Dollars, Dollars everywhere…Where are yours?

“Big Ghana-Must-Go bags were streaming into a big man’s mansion in Lagos. They regularly go in there. When they go in, they don’t come out. A concerned associate wondered what the big man would say if videos of these cash-filled bags found their way onto television screens. His instant response was that the bags contained just laundry…And everyone laughed and respected more the leader and his brain.”

“Brilliant man…he used the right word ‘laundry.’ Did you note the tinge of sarcasm there? Is the story true? We can work on it.”

“I won’t confirm that for you. Are you now a whistle-blower? I can’t confirm anything. Nothing at all but it is the usual truth you pick in political jokes…There is another story. A reporter who witnessed it won’t stop regaling me with its lurid details. You remember the strongman of Ibadan politics? His home used to be the preferred choice of politicians with careless cash and burning ambitions. A retired General wanted to be governor of Oyo State. The man went there with N50 million cash to buy the kingmaker and the throne. You know what happened?”

“What?”

“The old fox set to work immediately: ‘Give this to this; that to that and these bales to those up there. This is for the boys. The last one million, drop it there for tomorrow’s amala and gbegiri.’ He distributed the money – that moment – to the last kobo in the presence of the General. Then the old man looked at his guest, smiled and suggested that he had not yet brought his own gift…”

“Wow! Fifty million naira, just like that?! So, what did the man do?”

“The General ran away. He was sensible early enough to know he won’t satisfy that basket pouring his water into it. He would be ruined. He ran. You cannot be a serious candidate with peanuts. Even council chairmanship, you can’t buy with miserable money. That is not the kind of money real politicians spend. They need billions in local and foreign currencies to get power. They need even greater sums to keep the power. Money is the spirit that guards the throne, and, day and night, it must not sleep too far from them. The reason they build chests at home and on the farm.”

“I know they rarely use banks to settle political bills. And they plan ahead. Money to be spent in 2019 must be breathing in some underground detention centres by now. Real money that breathes and thumps its nose at poverty. Where these people get the liver to look at the mountains of raw cash and still sleep, I don’t know.”

“Cash pyramids in every home! We used to speak of cocoa and groundnut pyramids.”

“Cocoa and groundnuts? Do people still cultivate those ones? How much would they fetch you when you can wake up in Abuja or Lagos, drive round some godfathers’ homes to do rankadede and make millions daily. The millions are there if only you will wake up and move.”

“Move where? Now, listen. These big men you worship, has it ever crossed your mind that they have used you for money ritual?”

“God forbid. That won’t be my portion. Why would you drive a discourse with a curse? Abeg. Too early for that please.”

“It is not too early for me to wake you up. Wake up. You are a plate of sacrifice on the altar of some alien gods.”

“Gods or gourds of money? But why this sermon today?”

“This country is greatly blessed. Did you not see the heaps of dollars in that Lagos flat? Even Bill Gates would be jealous.”

“And you are this wretched? Your small gods in Lagos and Abuja have bigger vaults. You don’t think so?”

“Don’t look at those places. Look at the tall Ikoyi building, the huge safes and the tear-rubber dollars. Oh my God!”

“The Towers. Twenty luxury flats of four bedrooms, two palace pent house flats, all exquisitely finished with Italian fittings.  Big building built by big man for big boys… Boys buy flats, you know. Big men build…”

“And big women…”

“Yes, women…and big girls. What was the purchase price per flat? Can you guess?”

“Guess? It must be as horrendous as the reputation the building now has.”

“Someone put it at around $1 million.”

“Wow! That should be about N400 million. Just a flat. And big girls are there. Shows women have arrived. What a man can buy, a woman can get too. Women are no longer just ornamental beds and treadmills to keep men fit. They have become owners of minting factories, no man mounts them again.”

“But some people are rich. You would think only Trump built towers. I used to think that that Lagos tower and others were government-owned. So, a former governor built it. Now I know there is a difference between governments and governors. Government may be broke; some governors are forever rich.”

“Yes. Very rich. But buying flats or building single towers is still chicken change. Some guys are building rows of towers on the high seas, in the middle of the Atlantic as we speak, remember?”

“I know. But it is only their bucks we see. Where are their shops?”

“Nigeria. Nigeria is their shop. They stopped working years ago, in their thirties and their children don’t have to work at all. The country works for them, day and night. Is that okay by you? They own everything – land, water and sky. Even when you die, your corpse will pay into their golden vaults if you want to sleep in peace.”

“And Forbes hasn’t remembered to rank such people. It is not fair. Not fair at all.”

“You saw those bales of dollars. The aroma alone could intoxicate…”

“Or suffocate…But do you sincerely want such money?”

“Why not? Cool millions in dollars, even if in Naira. Why not?”

“Oh, come on, you don’t need what you cannot own publicly. You don’t have to be a problem for your children, your generation.”

“But your poverty, isn’t it enough problem for your children and their children’s children to wonder and ask what their patriarch was doing when the elephant was being shared? Some are taking the legs, some the head, the liver and the heart. The meat is finished, bros! What is yours in this matter? You can’t pay school fees, can’t pay rent. You can’t be a husband to your wife, father to your children. You are already a problem? Wake up bros, pray and strive that your own won’t be in vain.”

“You scare me. I don’t want that kind of wealth. It is blood money. And when you commit yourself to a life of desperation as this, there is no redeeming chance. It is like a babalawo who makes daily bank savings. His troubled clients are in greater trouble. His lot is to prescribe daily doses of cash and goats for his gods of greed. The clients’ lot is to sweat and service his savings, daily…”

“Is that not what you and I do for the big men who run our affairs? With the commonwealth, they are doing daily contributions, the Yoruba call it ajo ojumo. They do it in government houses. They do it in parliament buildings. They do it in palaces and power sanatoriums. Imagine! It is scandalous but what can we do? They are in government. They are in power. And we know it.”

“But seriously, what is in this for all of us?”

“You are dumb! There is no one bearing ‘All of us’. That person died a long time ago. He does not exist in Nigeria again. What exists are power and powerful people. People who grow dollars and Sterling and Naira in their home gardens. People who build towers and stuff them with unearned, unspendable dollars. A special breed with special taste.”

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