11 April 2014, Abuja – A group of sponsored protesters comprising mostly women on Thursday protested opposite the corporate headquarters of the Nigerian National Corporation, Abuja, to support the embattled Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
This is the second of such protests organised in support of Deziani in the last 48 hours.
A similar protest purportedly by the National Association of Nigerian Students was organised to support the minister on Wednesday.
While the protest on Thursday was going on opposite the corporation, it was gathered that both the NNPC and the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources were holding “crucial meetings.”
The meetings, which stretched for hours, had senior officials from both the corporation and the ministry.
Meanwhile our correspondents observed that those involved in the Thursday protest which held under the aegis of concerned Women of Nigeria, were different from the elite group of Nigerian women with a consciousness on political issues.
A good number of those who took part in the protest mostly from the nearby Nasarawa State could hardly speak English.
The women were accompanied in the protest by a group of youths who wielded the same placard with the erroneous inscription ‘live Deziani alone’ printed boldly on them.
The mistake ‘live Deziani alone ran through almost all the placards carried by the self styled concerned women led by one Martha Yaduma.
Yaduma who was received by a General Manager of NNPC, Umar Farouk, said that the women were at the Central Area to tell Nigerians that Deziani had not done anything wrong to warrant being put under pressure.
Yaduma claimed that those behind the travails of the minister were only out to pull down women in high places.
“We are here to tell Nigerians that the accusations that are being levelled against Mrs. Alison-Madueke are not true. She has not done anything that should warrant the pressure being put on her.
“Please, she should be left alone to continue her work of reforming the petroleum sector. The accusations are not correct because to the best of our knowledge, we have not seen anything wrong in her conduct.
“She has not stolen or mismanaged Nigeria’s money. We want her to continue as minister and we want the National Assembly to stop their continuous harassment of the minister. People continue to bring up false allegations against the minister just because she is a woman,” Yaduma said.
As early as 7am, there were signs that there could be protest against the NNPC headquarters on Thursday as stern looking soldiers were deployed to take over the open space for public parking opposite the corporation.
However, when the protesters got to the open space, the soldiers and indeed all the security personnel around the area gave them protection rather than chasing them away.
The petroleum minister had been embattled for months for allegedly spending N10bn tax payers money on private jets for her personal use in the past two years.
Sources at the NNPC told one of our correspondent that the meetings had to do with the allegations surrounding the whooping amount spent on private jets by the minister as well as other pressing issues about the ministry.
When contacted, the spokespersons for both the ministry and NNPC promised to get back to one of our correspondents but none did till the time of filing this report.