BY CHRIS GYANG
Oh, there is still another option. Godfathers (please don’t refer to them as ‘moneybags’ because it tarnishes their integrity and rubbishes their otherwise good/patriotic intensions), they could also come to your rescue. Certainly, godfathers are still very much around and willing to lend a helping hand. You think that the ‘Not Too Young to Run’ thing drove them out of business? No.
They are too smart and have an uncanny understanding of the shadowy underpinnings of Nigeria’s power dynamics to allow a mere piece of legislation drive them out of town. To the godfathers and the political class, it was largely a whimsical law inspired by the puerile inclinations of starry-eyed youth who do not understand the inner workings of the highly convoluted business of politics and power.
Certainly, the sordid falling apart of Adams Oshiomhole and Governor Godwin Obaseki on one hand and the bitter parting of ways of Tinubu and Osinbajo has not diminished the grandeur and indispensability of godfathers in Nigeria’s body politic. If you ask me, godfathers are very relevant today more than ever before because the stakes in the game of politics are at their highest today.
As long as you and your godfather have a firm grasp of the intricacies involved and understand the immense mutual benefits that are accruable, you are good to go. You are in good, clean business. But both of you must never allow the ever-present foul spirits of selfishness and betrayal come close to this lucrative partnership.
Now, you still don’t agree that the N100 million for the APC presidential nomination form is chicken change? Then you must be from planet Mars. Only the other day, terrorists who abducted the chief executive of a federal government owned bank during that deadly attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train demanded a ransom of N100 million. Their demand was promptly met and they proceeded to release him.
Early this year, the Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC) revealed that it paid N250 million for the release of students abducted from Bethel Baptist College, Kaduna. President of the NBC, Rev. Israel Akanji, told Nigerian Tribune in an interview on January 15, 2022: “Initially, we didn’t want to spend money…. That was how we began. I even said openly that we would not spend money but I am saying openly now that we have had to spend money.
“We were forced to spend money… we had to weigh between our money being in our pockets and our children being released to us. We preferred to lose the money. Since the government would not help us, we had to resort to self-help. That was what happened and we had to spend so much money.”
On Thursday, April 21, Daily Trust newspaper reported that the abductors of the founder of Solid Rock Kingdom Church, Apostle John Okiriko, had demanded a ransom of N100 million from his family. The octogenarian was abducted Tuesday night from his church premises at Ibekwe Akpan Nya in Mkpat Enin LGA of Imo State. As we write, the outcome of that situation is not yet clear.
But these three cases barely scratch the surface of this unending nightmare that has become a daily occurrence in most parts of the country. Terrorist kingpins such as Bello Turji, Auwal Daudawa, Shehu Rekeb and other such notorious outlaws who control large swathes of Nigeria’s North West routinely make tens of millions of naira daily through ransom payouts and levies/taxes extracted from citizens in ungoverned territories abandoned by governments.
These terrorists and criminals now control billions in both foreign and local currencies. And you can only understand and gauge the full measure and worth of the Nigerian Naira when you start counting it from hundreds of millions, according to the terrorists’ standards. Bandits and terrorists have set the template for the appreciation of Nigeria’s currency. That is why it has become very easy to set the value of goods, services and costs of nomination forms at seemingly outrageous sums.
This may appear untenable to ordinary citizens suffering under a debilitating inflationary trend which has hit the ceiling. But it is normal to our political leaders who have easy and unfettered access to our commonwealth. They, just like the bandits, make a million naira look like peanuts.
Terrorists have become a new, awesome, economic bloc to such an extent that their interests/holdings now determine the way we perceive and deploy financial resources and conduct business – such as fixing the costs of nomination forms for elective offices.
Critics say that this new phenomenon has, consciously or unconsciously, permeated the general Nigerian society and found its way into the reckoning of the business of politics. As a result, our perception of the national currency is today partly determined by the widespread, overarching, terrorism and lawlessness that have become daily occurrences throughout the country.
That said, if you still think that N100 million is too high a price to pay for the nomination form of Nigeria’s ruling political party, you may wish to consider the possibility of becoming Nigeria’s petroleum minister when you finally get the plum job. Yes, just like President Buhari, you may decide to make yourself the minister of that most lucrative, ‘Grade A+’, ministry which oversees the goose that lays Nigeria’s golden egg.
That way, you will forever remain immune from the ravages of this poverty which has selected to make Nigeria its most comfortable perch in the whole world. Furthermore, occupying the position of petroleum minister as president will automatically save you the embarrassment of leaving office with the shame of debts hanging over your neck like presidents Thomas Jefferson ($30,000), Jimmy Carter ($1 million) and Bill Clinton ($16million) of the United States of America who refused to exploit the huge potentials of the office of president to do good business even when they were in deep personal financial distress.
Troubled by the full weight of the debts on their heads, Carter’s distraught wife, Rosalynn, according to The Washington Post, said, “we thought we were going to lose everything.” That will never be the lot of the wife of a Nigerian president who is wise enough to occupy the office of petroleum minister.
And, after all, what is the value of N100 million in dollar terms today? You shout that N100 million is too much money because you do not handle dollar notes. Convert N100 million into dollars and you will pity yourself for wasting your breath, shouting yourself hoarse, over this inconsequential matter. Convert N100 million into dollars and you will find that it will occupy very little space in the kind of bullion van Tinubu used to stock cash on the eve of the 2019 presidential election which he deployed to oil the wheels of President Buhari’s re-election.
One hundred million naira appears to have gained traction as the most common and least amount for conducting this business of politics. For instance, there is a running scandal in Lagos about a bribe of N100 million Bola Ahmed Tinubu allegedly offered a chieftain of the Lagos4Lagos political movement to buy his conscience, which led to his sack. See how N100 million is now trending on the country’s political space?
You are making a mountain out of this molehill because you are not as popular as Buhari was in 2015. If you were popular, your friends should also gather money and purchase a form for you. You think it is easy to be Mr. Integrity? In fact, if you are a truly detribalized and patriotic Nigerian who is not a religious ideologue, like President Buhari, then you should have no problem assembling only 100 friends from across the country to donate a mere one million naira each towards the actualization of your struggle to gain access to the palatial Aso Villa. As political entrepreneurs who fully understand the huge returns on such an investment, contributing only a million naira each should not be a big deal.
Already, Aminu Suleiman, DG of the Tinubu Support Organisation (TSO), has offered to singlehandedly buy the N100 million APC form for Bola Ahmed Tinubu. But even before then (on March 30, 2022), supporters of the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, revealed that they had raised N67 million towards purchasing the form for him even before the cost was announced. They said that they were looking forward to raising N100 million before the end of that week.
Even the labour minister, Dr. Chris Ngige, who said that he had previously budgeted N50 million for purchasing the form, has now disclosed that his good friends and supporters would contribute to make up for the shortfall. Now, that is the business spirit!
But the serving minister may actually be able to afford the N100 million. But his friends may want to help out as in view of the immense benefits they will make should he become president. Still, SAHARA REPORTERS (April 21, 2022) has alleged that Ngige owns a sprawling edifice under construction in one of the choicest parts of Lagos – No. 23, Milverton Road, Ikoyi. The online publication quoted sources as saying that “the apartments in the ongoing building are being sold for $3million (N1.74 billion at the prevailing exchange rate of N580/$).”
If this allegation is true, it may well substantiate the prevailing belief among Nigerians that, indeed, this business of politics has become extremely lucrative in Buhari’s sweet Nigeria.
(GYANG is the Chairman of the N.G.O, Journalists Coalition for Citizens’ Rights Initiative – JCCRI. Visit our website: https://jccri-online.org. Follow us on our Twitter handle: @jccri1. Facebook page: facebook.com/jccrionline. Emails: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com)