Fifty Billion-Dollar Blues By Pius Adesanmi


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Pius Adesanmi

Pius Adesanmi

Aso Rock Villa. Yoruba music-themed day in one of the expansive presidential reception rooms. Ebenezer Obey is crooning from a sophisticated sound system:

A l’owo ma j’aiye

Eyin le mo

Awon to j’aiye l’ana da

Won ti ku won ti lo

(If you have serious money

And you don’t enjoy life to the hilt

That is your fucking business

Those who enjoyed life yesterday

Are dead and gone today)

General party atmosphere and genteel conversations in the ajebutter mode of the rich and powerful. Baba’s raucous peals of laughter are the only throwback to unpolished bush mannerisms. In the room, the usual suspects: President Goodluck Jonathan, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, Baba Olusegun Obasanjo, General Ibrahim Babangida, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, General T.Y. Danjuma, Chief Tony Anenih, all kinds of rebel Governors, representatives of the Northern Elders’ Forum, plenty of food, plenty of drinks, and assorted aides carrying the cellphones of their principals. President Jonathan can be heard above Ebenezer Obey’s financial advice:

“Ah, Baba himself! For the Baba himself! Ladies and gentlemen, it’s amazing how we all here continue to owe our necks and good fortunes to Baba’s quick thinking o!”

“Mr. President, I agree with you. You are absolutely right. I mean, look at me, I’m supposed to be Mr. Fix It. Yet, I was caught completely off guard by that idiot Kano prince. But for Baba’s quick action, we would all have been in a lot of trouble. I doff my hat and heart for Baba o”

(General murmur of agreement across the room.)

“Em, my people, if you praise me too much my head will swell o”

“Ah, Baba, let’s praise you. You deserve it. You have saved the President from a very tight corner.”

“Ok, praise me. It was my usual work of genius. As I sat down at the stadium in Johannesburg for Mandela’s funeral, I kept thinking of the damage that this lunatic Kano prince could potentially do to our plans with his useless letter. Then I thought of the one thing that never fails to work with Nigerians: emotion. You see, no matter how grown up and educated a Nigerian is, you must always remember that his emotion never develops beyond the Choco Milo stage throughout his or her life. Give children Choco Milo and you can divert their attention away from anything. I knew instantly that a letter containing more sensational tsunami than that of the Kano prince would divert their attention from our money. Throwing Nigerians Choco Milo worked for those who ruled them before us; throwing Nigerians Choco Milo has worked for us since we started ruling them; throwing Nigerians Choco Milo will work for our children who will rule Nigerians when we are dead and buried.”

(Thunderous applause in the room)

“Em, Your Excellency President Jonathan.”

“Yes, my dear General IBB.”

“Well, now that Baba has mentioned our money, I think it is time to get down to business. I still need to be in Minna today to receive another APC delegation. You know that those fools literally sleep on my verandah these days.”

“Ah, yes, you’re right General. Gentlemen, the meeting is about to start. If you are not supposed to be here, please exit now.”

(All aides exit. Patience Jonathan remains seated, beaming. Baba whispers into President Jonathan’s ear.)

“Em, Jona, your madam is still here now.”

“Yes now, Baba, I can see her.”

“Haba, don’t you understand? Tell her to go out too now.”

“Ehn, Baba, you want to kill me? Tell Patience to go out? Baba, leave matter, she is the real President o.”

“Ah, Jona, wo aiye e nta! See your life! Okay, let me help you get her out of here.”

“Ah, Baba, please I beg you, leave her alone o.”

(Too late. Baba is already approaching the First Lady.)

“My one and only Madam Peshe!”

“Baba, you are our father.”

“Peshe, Peshe! The lionness of Okrika! May Soponna strike any other woman who looks at Jona.”

“Baba we thank God. We thank you.”

“Ehen, Madam Peshe, shebi you know that whenever I’m here in the Villa, I will only eat what you personally cook because I am yet to see any woman who cooks soup like you in the whole of Africa.”

“Ah, Baba, you are flattering me again o.”

“It is not flattery o Madam Peshe. This one that you are seating here with us. It means you want me to eat food cooked by Villa cooks today?”

“Ah, Baba! Okay, let me leave you men alone and go and personally cook your own meal.”

“That is what I’m talking about my daughter. Thank you. O kare omobinrin yi.”

(The First Lady exits)

“Ah, Baba, how did you do it?”

“Leave me alone jare Jona. O ti de ju. Must I teach you everything including how to flatter a woman to get her to do anything you want? Start the meeting jare.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are all here to review Operation Fifty-Billion-Dollars-For-2015. Now that Baba, through a stroke of genius, has been able to divert the country’s attention away from the money and to his letter, we have to move quickly and discuss the sharing formula.”

“Your Excellency.”

“Yes, Mr. Fix It.”

“First I want to congratulate you for raising the fifty billion dollars.”

“I didn’t raise it o. Nne One and Nne Two did it. I only provided Presidential leverage.”

“Ah, Jona”

“Yes Baba”

“Sorry for interrupting you but how do you go about picking those your Nnes? One bought bulletproof BMWs for some cool dollars and another two have raised fifty billion dollars for 2015. Anyway, Mr. Fix It, you have no mouth to congratulate anybody o. When we put you in works, how much were you able to raise? Now ordinary women have raised fifty billion dollars and you are talking. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

“Baba, please let’s stay on point. General IBB, your opinion?”

“Well, President Jonathan, have you determined the traditional courtesy cut for us the elder statesmen here? How much is going to Baba, General Danjuma, General Abdulsalami, and I? And since General Integrity will never attend these meetings and will reject his share if we send it to him, we can add it to ours. So, as usual, we take our cut first and decide how to disburse the rest for 2015.”

“Yes, General IBB, in view of all the contending issues, I have fixed the traditional courtesy cut for you elders at ten billion dollars. As usual, you will work out the sharing formula among yourselves. We are left with a balance of forty billion dollars. Baba, I hope that works for you?”

“Jona, you know by now that no amount of money works for me but let me not be an agbaya. Let me agree this time. Now let’s move on to these noisemakers in the Northern Elders’ Forum. General Abubakar should handle that side.”

(General Abubakar turns to the representatives of the NEF and speaks)

“Folks, I’m a man of few words. Four years of waiting is nothing if you are busy investing ten billion dollars. Take ten billion dollars and bury your agitation for the Presidency to shift to the North in 2015. You don’t have to openly work for President Jonathan. Just go and get busy investing your share of the ten billion dollars and disappear from circulation. Remember that if you refuse to take this money, he has the might of the Nigerian state and will still rig that election anyway. Guys, grow a brain. Don’t lose both ways. Take ten billion dollars and advise the North to wait for 2019.”

“Okay, General Abdulsalami, we hear you. But this ten billion is for how many of us? Can the President add three oil blocks to it?”

“Alhaji, don’t push it. Ten billion and nothing more. It’s dollars o. The sharing formula is for you members of the executive of the Northern Elders Forum to decide when you get back to Kaduna.”

“Ok. We agree.”

“Your Excellency.”

“Yes, General Abdulsalami.”

“We have the north. Ten billion dollars.”

“Ok. Baba, shey you hear. We are down to thirty billion dollars.”

“Ehen, these rebel rascals, there are seven or eight of them?”

“Well, Baba, they are all here but I don’t know in what combination. They were seven. Then they were five and two, and then they were five and one and one. But we have seven of them here.”


“Yes Baba”

“Give them one billion each and let them go and sempe”


“Cool temper.”

“Ah, ok. That makes seven billion dollars. But Sule Lamido already cornered ten billion naira through his sons. Should he also get a billion dollars?”

“Jona, give those boys what I said. By the way, where is Rotimi? Rotimi! Rotimi!”

(Rotimi Amaechi approaches the centre of the room and kneels down. Baba addresses him)

“Ehen, Rotimi, your drama has gone on long enough.”

“Yes, I know, Baba.”

“You will leave this meeting with one billion dollars. The money is to organize your campaign for the Senate in 2015. Once you leave this meeting, go back to Port Harcourt and engineer how to lose your ongoing battle with the Presidency. You understand that the Presidency must not be seen to have lost out in a battle with a governor.”

“I understand Baba.”

“Okay, Jona, what else do you have for Rotimi.”

“In addition to the one billion dollars, he gets two oil blocks. He gets to continue his association openly with APC but must come back to us once he is elected to the Senate.”

“Rotimi, shey you hear President Jonathan. Do you agree?”

“I agree Baba.”

“Okay, go and arrange how Bipi will impeach you. Protest a little and disappear into APC. See you at the Senate in 2015. Jona, where are we?”

“Well, Baba, ten billion for Elder statesmen, ten billion for the Northern Elders Forum, seven billion for the rebels. That’s twenty-seven billion dollars.”

“Okay, we must earmark ten billion dollars for Bode George now that he is completely free to work for us again.”

“Haba Baba! Ten billion dollars for Bode George?”

“Jona, I think you are underestimating the importance of Lagos. Until we take that state, we cannot really say that we own Nigeria even if you win in 2015. You understand that the owner of the treasury of that state is singlehandedly financing APC and poking his rude finger in our noses all the time just because he owns that treasury? Whatever we do, we got to capture that treasury. Capturing the treasury of Lagos state is a do or die affair.”

“But Baba, we can always fly him here in the dead of night and cut another deal.”

“That will be another temporary solution. Bode is the only stormy petrel capable of handling him. But Bode needs money.”

“But Baba, what will ten billion dollars do? Do you know how much the man rakes in monthly from that treasury he owns in Lagos? Lamorde showed me his file last week and I nearly had a heart attack.”

“That is why you will give Bode five oil blocks in addition to the ten billion dollar mobilization fee. Besides, something will work for us. Sooner or later, the people of Lagos will get tired of their money being used to build a personal empire across the southwest. They will begin to insist that the money for Lagos must be spent exclusively on the development of Lagos. Once that happens, we move in for the kill.”

“Okay, Baba, ten billion for Bode George. So, we have run through thrity-seven billion dollars. What about Nne One and Nne Two?  Without the extraordinary work of those two women, we won’t be here.”

“Ah, yes, they tried. Encourage them with $1.5 billion each.”

“That’s three billion dollars. We are at forty billion dollars.”

“I think the whole house here would agree that the remaining ten billion dollars should be disbursed at your discretion, Mr. President.”

(Outside the room, some eavesdropping disgruntled aides whisper)

“Chei, Ruby.”

“Wetin now, Renoks?”

“You no hear? The money don remain ten billion dollars o.”


“What do you mean ehen?”

“They have not mentioned aides now. And the money don nearly finish. It takes billions to effectively monitor social media these days…”

“Haba, Renoks!”

“Wetin now, Oga Doyin, was I talking to you? I was talking to Oga Ruby.”

“Ole ni e. You are a thief. No respect for elders. Elders are sharing money that will guarantee your future here beyond 2015 and you are doing longa throat. Foolish boy.”

“At least nobody in Benue and Imo states has accused me of contract jibiti.”

“Ehn, Renoks, are you talking to me? Ruby, you are here and this small boy is insulting me? I will…”

(Madam Peshe’s voice screaming from the kitchen interrupts him)

“Renoks! Ruby! Doyin! Where are these boys when you need them? Renoks! Ruby! Doyin! Have you set the table?”

They all roar, “Yes Madam!!” and rush to the kitchen.

Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola is aNaija247news' Southwest editor. He's based in Lagos and writes on the Yoruba Nation political issues, news and investigative reports

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