A group of Ijaw women known as Ijaw Women Connect (IWC), have said that they would resist attempts at victimising a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The group made the vow in a statement on Tuesday, adding that attempts were being made to intimidate her because of her recent comment on the erosion of social values in the country.
It would be recalled that Alison-Madueke had while speaking during a virtual conference organised by Ijaw Nation Development Group (INDG), lamented that fraudsters better known as “yahoo boys” have become role models in the society.
This got many Nigerians on social media talking, with many asking her to return to the country from her United Kingdom base to answer for corruption charges levelled against her.
IWC, in the statement signed by its President, Rosemary John-Oduone, said Alison-Madueke’s attempt to reform and introduce transparency into the oil sector “made her persona-non-grata”.
According to her, the former minister’s lecture was not about “Yahoo boys” but on some problems affecting not just Ijaw people or Nigerians but young black men around the world.
“We shall never allow the press or indeed any organisation to victimise any Ijaw woman especially our sister who we coaxed out of solitude to demonstrate the character and strength of the Ijaw woman at the conference.
“We salute her courage and bravery to come out and answer the call of her people, presenting her strong voice, in spite of the travails she faces, which we know are only mere distractions that will not quench the fire that burns in her for the betterment of her people and the nation as a whole.
“She also compassionately called for Ijaw-women to take their place in contributing to Ijaw-Nation development from a point of view of self-reliance and self-development.
“Let us remind the venomous nay-sayers that our daughter is a proud but not arrogant Ijaw woman”, the IWC President said in the statement.
John-Oduone also contended that the allegations against Alison-Madueke are unsubstantiated, adding that while in office, Alison-Madueke pushed for far-reaching institutional reforms in the oil and gas industry.
“Our sister even asked to be joined in charges a couple of years ago and was prepared to return, if possible, in order to defend her name and this was refused by the EFCC and the Nigerian courts! Her main accusers, in the form of the EFCC, are currently even now facing far more grievous financial misappropriation charges themselves. So, let no one call her guilty.
“If there are any charges against her, then let us wait for them to be answered in court – no one can be guilty until it is proven! This is the law.
“The travails of Dr. Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, are a metaphor for the Ijaw experience. We are teaching Ijaw women to focus on Ijaw self-driven development and to ensure that we seek out our own and stand firmly with them”, she said.