Mr. President, I have just left the presence of Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed who discharged and acquitted me in a $9.8 million corruption case. You may not remember me so well, sir, because I was not the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation under your tenure. But it may interest you to know that even though I am out, I am as good as being in office as the GMD. My contacts remain intact in the oil industry so I can still make dollars in retirement. That’s the beauty of ever holding any high post in NNPC, even though I’m certain Mr. President doesn’t know it.
You can’t know it, sir, because you’re of a different kind. I hope you know what people say. They say if the president doesn’t want cool cash, he shouldn’t hinder those of us who want to make cool cash. Now, I have a confession to make to you, sir; I want to state that I have my reasons for what I did, and my confession is in recognition of your threat that those who loot should refund before you send the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission after them. Meanwhile, I didn’t put my hands in NNPC’s treasury, although I hope those boys at the EFCC won’t be smart enough to look in the direction and look well. I know they won’t look well because as it is they saw just $9.8 million in my house and they rushed to court. They’ve only rushed to free me. But I can tell you, Mr President, business has been good as GMD.
Sir, I hope it hasn’t occurred to you that I got all things right when it came to my friends giving me gifts worthy of my position as GMD in aggregate form and not$ “in one fell swoop” as I informed the Judge. If the $9 million and hundreds of thousands of pounds sterling in gifts are translated into naira, that’s a tidy sum in billions of naira. However, when it comes to getting the refineries to work while I was in office, I didn’t make sure to get that one right. No GMD ever did and it’s only natural. After all, one Nigerian tribe says when one holds the hoe one can’t fail to pull the best to one’s side. I pull the best to my side, sir; I can tell you that much.
By the way, did you notice that my lawyers didn’t call attention to their own shrewdness which ensured His Lordship saw things my way and threw the money laundering charges in EFCC’s face? Instead, my lawyers sanctimoniously pointed the glory heavenwards for my astounding victory? Sir, the giving of glory won’t stop there. I may still show up in a place of worship where I’m sure religious leaders will join me to allot glory for this knockout I gave EFCC. They will, even though I imagine they suspect no GMD can get so much gifts in millions of dollars if he hasn’t been adept at cooking on an open fire in low grass thatched huts. I’m adept at it, sir; I mean transacting lucrative personal businesses as GMD. All GMDs are, sir.
Mr. President, it’s good His Lordship ordered the EFCC to return my $9.8 million to me. I have things I want to do with it, including going into politics. Of course, I don’t need to tell you that one, sir; you know it’s what we all do after we’ve filled pockets behind our desks as government officials. Those of us who leave the NNPC become the biggest moneybags in the states we come from. Even under your regime, you have former NNPC employees who have become ministers after they contested and lost governorship and senate seats. With the $9.8 million that EFCC knows about, and what I have that EFCC doesn’t know about, I can become state governor, then minister, after which I can retire into the senate. The cycle is complete that way, I mean the cycling and recycling of funds raked in from the national cake.
But there’s one angle to this that I haven’t let you into, Mr President. You know, when we leave office, I mean top government officials, we mingle with our kinsmen, expecting them to say it in our ears that we’re good for the post of governor, senator, president. Just spread the largesse and those who know they can make even more money from you will soon sound it loud that their son, the retired NNPC official, is available to serve in a higher capacity. I like the claim of being “prevailed upon to contest,” so I’ll listen to those who organise protests and who insist that I “must contest.” Meanwhile, joining politics was actually my target when I began to strike lucrative on-the-side deals that brought in those dollar gifts, which I stacked in my house, not in bank vaults. Cash is politics, you know. Politics is cash. But this isn’t even where I’m headed, Mr President.
The point you might have missed, sir, is that once some of us step onto the political tuff, we make it seem so easy to win. It isn’t. I’ll explain. We have a cheap but highly effective campaign tool and most politicians use it. We talk about our experiences in government, and in the process tell our kinsmen that their problem is the ‘other tribe’. It’s the other tribe that has looted the treasury, has given jobs to only members of their tribe, collected percentages on every government contract they signed and thereby destroyed public institutions. We don’t corruptly enrich ourselves in public office, no member of our tribe does. We’re religious people, the only people who recognise a Supreme Being. The other tribe doesn’t and they weren’t created by the same Supreme Being. They’re devils, every one of them; we can’t have anything to do with them. We can’t, even though we have a religion that says reaching out to all people is one reason we have the religion. Our religion has become our ethnic identity, you know, exclusive to us. None of my kinsmen would listen to you, Mr President, if you told them anything different.
So, would-be politicians must say what their kinsmen like to hear. The ‘other tribe’ narrative is basically the clincher, sir, the trick to getting elected faster than those who preach ‘United Nigeria’. In a community already filled with tribal sentiment and hatred, the narrative that the other tribe is the cause of all of Nigeria’s problems works like magic. Add details of how the other tribe discriminated against you, your tribe, your religion as well as how they hindered you from performing in public office, and your listeners would understand why you couldn’t get NNPC to refine one litre of crude oil while you were the GMD. They understand that one but they wouldn’t understand why EFCC persecuted me, their son, who had cleverly stashed away $9.8 million, a safety measure all past GMDs are popularly expected to have taken too.
Mr. President, when I state that business is good as GMD, I mean it. People who have worked or have run their private businesses for decades should regret they didn’t join the NNPC. Think of it, sir, how many Nigerians make billions of naira, which is the worth of my $9.8 million, even after they’ve been in business for thirty years? How many Nigerians can become a billionaire like me, just by collecting gifts from friends in aggregate form as GMD of NNPC?
Sir, being GMD is good business and I’ll be GMD of NNPC again and again if given the opportunity. But it can’t be my headache that NNPC doesn’t refine one litre of PMS; we’re all waiting for Dangote Group to complete their refineries, aren’t we? My headache, what matters to me, is that no one will call me a fool for being GMD and failing to do some good business for myself. Mr President, you know this is what kinsmen call their sons who leave public office but don’t have $9.8 million cash to sleep on as I do. Members of the other tribe are the cause of all of Nigeria’s problems though. Lest we forget.