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OPINION: 2 Billion Dollars To ‘Buy’ Aso Rock!



The business of politics globally involves money, filthy lucre, hubris and dirty tricks. The dirtier you are, especially in Nigeria, the more chances of scoring it big during an electoral contest from the local government level to the presidency. Sometimes, wealthy men used their enormous financial resources to gate-crash into power. Example, the former US President, Donald Trump. And the late Nigerian billionaire business mogul, Bashorun MKO Abiola.

The only difference here, perhaps, is that while the combustive Trump trumpeted his way to power by investing heavily he tasted presidential power for four odd scandalous years the late Abiola used his national goodwill and fiscal muscle and benevolence to convincingly win the June 12, 93 presidential poll. Alas, the generous Bashorun never tasted power for no fault of his.

The military Generals, call them militricians if you like, Babangida, Abacha and co, conspired criminally to deny the deceased great Nigerian the popular mandate he was freely given. He was consequently incarcerated and killed extra-judicially in the military gulag!

What that tells us is that an Emmanuel Macron, the charismatic French President, or a Barack Obama, the former US President, may not ‘smell’ the aroma of Aso Rock given their lack of resources to win power by popular electoral exclamation.

Many foreign publications (especially those based in the States and the UK) had taken the Buhari regime to the cleaners, at one time or another, over its abysmal failure in almost every sphere of governance. Recently, the London-based Financial Times upped the ante by publishing a scathing assessment of the 7-year presidential pestilence of Muhammadu Buhari.

In a report entitled “What Is Nigeria’s Government For”, the Africa Editor of the British newspaper, David Piling, drew critical attention to the rampaging terrorism, corruption and banditry and kidnapping prevalent in the entire country under Buharism.

READ ALSO: OPINION…Asiwaju Tinubu: The Bourdillon Declaration!

I had read that report and nothing Editor Piling said could be considered strange a happening in our country. Who never knew before now that Buhari was a failure presidentially? Or that he had overseen two recessions in a space of two years? Or that terrorists and organized criminals (including politicians) are becoming more powerful and determined to cut out their own ‘cake’ in a nation led by a slumbering incompetent leader?

However, what sounded totally strange to us was the allegation that it would cost a staggering two billion Dollars to get the next President elected into office next year! Two billion Dollars to get a Buhari replacement? Whoever says Nigeria is not a rich country with majority poor population? You have just hundreds of the rich dominating elite lording it over the rest of us!

The presidency had angrily reacted to the Financial Times critique by calling out its African Editor. Mallam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity, to the President, in his usual garbage-spewing, had hit back at Mr Piling in particular and Financial Times in general.

Though the Nigerian politics at the federal level is known to be an exorbitant investment (with ‘investors’ expected to reap bountifully upon gaining power by hook or by crook) it was stunning the revelation that an aspirant to that powerful exalted office would have to shell out a whooping two billion Dollars to achieve his objective.

By the time a politician spends billions of Dollars to gain official ‘entrance’ into the Villa what would obviously be paramount in his mind would be how best to recuperate his investment and reward those (security forces, electoral umpires, thugs, stooges etc) he used to rig his way to power.

Two billion Dollars to be able to ‘buy’ Aso Rock temporarily for four years sounds more like a dream in a nation where the minimum wage is less than a hundred US Dollars a month? If that is the case then any wonder why we are still where we are, stuck in underdevelopment?

Besides, come to think of it, does that then mean that all the presidential hopefuls, incuding the Lilliputians like Governors Dave Umahi and Yahaya Bello, possess the billions in American Dollars to prosecute the electoral ‘war’ next year? Well, your guess is as good as ours.

Suffice to say, however, that the heavyweights among the aspirants can boast of millions, billions and trillions in Naira, Euro and Dollars. Atiku Abubakar and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, for example, had looted so much that any idle talk of spending two billion Dollars to ‘buy’ over Aso Villa could be said to be infantile an imagination.

Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, the former Governor of Abia State accused rightly or wrongly of gubernatorial grand larceny is known to be a rich man. Whether he had looted the Abia State treasury like Senator Rochas Okorocha did when he governed Imo State for eight fraudulent years is no longer the central issue of the moment.

Senator Kalu had boasted recently of his capacity to outspend even Tinubu in the event of a competition for power at the top! Kalu, to be fair to him, made money even before dabbling into politics Nigeriana.

Aso Rock may not be up for sale to the best of our knowledge but if it takes a dizzying two billion Dollars to book occupancy of the power Villa for four years then politics in Nigeria must be ranked by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most expensive ‘business’ in the whole world.

That then means that it is much more lucrative than Boko Haram organized terrorism. Nigeria we hail thee!

AUTHOR: Ozodinukwe Okenwa

Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.

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