15 Things We Could Do With $15 million In 15 Days

Posted: September 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

By Sonala Olumhense

If you have yet to hear the joke: here it is: The chairman of the Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is offered the sum of $15 million as bait by a certain widely-known former governor. His name: Nuhu Ribadu, and his actual word: bribe. Mr. Ribadu takes the money to the Central Bank of Nigeria to be used as evidence. Apparently, the EFCC lacked the height or depth or breadth for that kind of money, or perhaps for that kind of currency.

In any event, all of this takes place in the presence of another senior official of
the EFCC. His name: Ibrahim Lamorde. Mr. Ribadu and Mr. Lamorde are
currently employed by the government, where Mr. Lamorde chairs the EFCC. Despite this “family” relationship, there is a “mystery” about the loot: where it
came from, who gave it to whom, and for what purpose. It is not clear whether
anyone received a receipt or who may have signed it.

Viewed this way, it is even more amazing to me that there are such few
claimants of this money. I am astonished there aren’t more businessmen;
contractors; former governors; Senators, ancient and modern; or Senior
Advocates of Nigeria wearing their wives’ bleached wigs. Think about it: there may have been no electricity at that material time to sign the receipt, or to pick it up if it fell down.

The corridors of our courtrooms, like the roads to the presidential palace and to the bedroom of the Inspector General of Police, ought to be jammed with affidavit-wielding claimants. Partly because of this situation, some people are asking: what should be donenwith the money? If ours were not such a hilarious comedy club, I would have joined those compatriots eager to offer innovative quick-impact proposals in poverty alleviation, education and health. But experience teaches us that in 15 days, our $15 million—like Abacha’s $2.5
billion loot—would have disappeared in a puff of hilarity, leaving behind only
embarrassment for all who took the matter seriously. Here, therefore, are 15 ways of spending the money that will keep our country united but not necessarily advancing:

1: Give the money to Olusegun Obasanjo. Here is a man who knows how to
hold water in a basket and credibility in a bucket, and never have his head
inspected for noise or his agbada for termites. With $15m in new money, instead of buying Transcorp shares, he will buy Transcorp. Instead of running a farm in, he will make Otta his farm. Instead of watching Nigeria travel all the way to Australia to print controversial new Naira bills with Securency, he will print the money at the foot of Eko Bridge. Instead of having to use MMA, the same airport where he was beaten up by a young man with fists of stone two years ago, he will build an international airport behind his home in Abeokuta and become a one-man tourist destination.

2: Give it to the Peoples Democratic Party. A good umblella does not develop
holes, and it is ridiculous that Africa’s largest party should run out of money.
Only three months ago, the PDP was roasted alive in Edo State, and unless we
help them, that could become a streak.

3: Give it to Tony Anenih. I mean, this man has suffered enough. First, he
faced the indignity of being called upon to account for N400 billion he received as Minister of Works. But he then also became Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees only to be cast aside overnight by Obasanjo. But for President Jonathan, he would have remained on the fringes of the party. Give
him the $15 million for his pain and suffering, and watch him light up the PDP again.

4: Give it to all of the nation’s Ministers of Works in the past 30 years. Among other achievements, they have made construction of the Lagos-Benin Road a perennial, perpetual and permanent enterprise.

5: Give the money to Diezani Allison-Madueke, the Minister of Petroleum
Resources. To begin with, this woman was never rewarded as Minister of Works for her memorable Nollywood performance of mixing cement with her tears one afternoon, and her eyes are still swollen. Since then, she has also labored in vain at Petroleum Resources simply watching the nation’s wealth travel around her. It is an insult that she is not even among the 123 Nigerians recently reported to have spent billions of Naira on private jets.

6: Give it to Stella Oduah, the Minister of Aviation. This is the woman who
“mistakenly” suspended the licence of Dana Airline after the June air crash. She has now helped Nigeria borrow N106 billion from China to develop 11 of our
airports. She announced two weeks ago that some of these mysterious airports are being “remodeled;” have reached 80 percent completion and will soon be inoperation. All of this is happening while Murtala Muhammad Airport rots and is managed worse than the average motor park.

7: Give the money to David Mark, President of the Senate. This former Minister of Communications it was who, last October, expressed public “anger” that the executive arm of the government had simply ignored the collapse of NITEL and NIPOST. Mr. Mark, deeply aware of how and when all public institutions decay or are shared by the privileged, is now “angry” again, calling for the heads of those responsible for the decay of the National Stadium in Abuja.

8. Give it to members of the Senate. Each of them would only receive a small
change of about $100,000—perhaps not even enough to buy a new LandCruiser—but it would demonstrate we recognize their importance. We have never given them anything, because all they have is what they have taken.

9: Give it to Ibrahim Jimoh, a titan of Nigerian business who has hit a road bump. The $15 million would help him to buy a new road map and serve as a
reminder that the PDP invests in its own. 10: Give it to Professor Soludo, the former Governor of the CBN. The money arrived during his tenure, and he was never rewarded for anything, including his genius with the Africa Finance Corporation or his decongestion on the couch of the American ambassador. Or perhaps to Lamido Sanusi, his successor, who stays awake to make sure the money is all there and has not been replaced with 419 counterfeit bills.

11. Give the money to the person who coined the term, “Transformation
Agenda.” His is a gold mine that yields diamonds as well.

12. Give the money to Michael Aondoakaa, the former Attorney General. He is the only person in the Jonathan Years ever to have been kicked aside with
ignominy, but that was before the smoke cleared. $15m would be a nice
apology.

13. Give it to Sani Ahmed Yerima, the former champion of Sharia law who parlayed his governorship of Zamfara State into a Senate chair, and then took a child bride. This man has never been honoured for the way he embodies the prevailing values of our political elite.

14. Give the money to the man who draws up the annual National Honours List. This man should run the electoral commission.

15. Give the money to President Jonathan, who has worked so hard that in his
first year Nigeria’s debt profile rose to N1.21tn. It will demonstrate our
appreciation that he doesn’t give a damn.

*sonala.olumhense@gmail.com

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