Diezani Alison-Madueke came to political limelight following her appointment as Minister of Transport on July 26, 2007. In 2008, she was moved to the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.
She was later appointed the first woman Minister of Petroleum in Nigeria by President Goodluck Jonathan in April 2010, a position she occupied until recently when Jonathan lost the last presidential election.
Before then, Alison-Madueke who studied Architecture at Howard University in the United States, was involved in Shell Petroleum Development Corporation. In 2002, she decided to continue studying at Cambridge University for her MBA.
In October 2010, she became the first woman to head a country’s delegation at the annual Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) conference. She was also the first female Minister of Transportation, and the first woman to be appointed to the board of Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria. On November 27, 2014 she got elected as the first female President of OPEC.
On working in male-dominated sectors, Alison-Madueke said she warned the young women she mentored while at Shell to “change their mode of thinking”.
In June 2008, she was subject to a Senate probe after it emerged that as Transport Minister, she had paid N30.9 billion ($263 million) to contractors between December 26 and 31, 2007. She is said to be worth over N1billion.
However, she has never been officially charged or tried for these allegations and has strongly denied any wrongdoing. She was alleged to have spent billions of dollars inappropriately on private jets while many Nigerians suffer. She is also alleged to be responsible for some missing $20 billion dollars and is widely accused of reckless spending of government funds.
In September 2008, there was an unsuccessful attempt to kidnap her in her house in Abuja with her son, Chimezie Madueke.
In October 2009, the Senate indicted Alison-Madueke and recommended prosecution for the alleged transfer of N1.2 billion into the private account of a toll company without due process and in breach of concession agreement.
However, the allegations have never been taken to court and she maintains her innocence. Alison-Madueke was born in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on December 6, 1960.