The Delta airline plane landed at Abuja’s Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and I bid farewell to a group of fellow travellers I met on the plane: Bert Nwakamma flies from Atlanta to Abuja more often than I go to Wal-Mart on Hwy 85 Riverdale; Oputa, an attorney from Delta State shuttles between law offices in New Jersey and Abuja; Jim, a Caucasian Idaho farmer is on initial agricultural management consultancy trip to Nigeria; a group of Nigerian and white passengers are in business suits with sealed lips unwilling to discuss the missions bringing them to Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory. I shook hands with a Yoruba-Igbo couple just returning from visiting the Yoruba man’s sister in Florida, The man looks like Prof. Okanira or Ifekanku with just a little more meat to the skeleton, though just as unattractive as my Igbo friends.
I have decided that NIGERIA IS THE BEST PLACE FOR NIGERIANS TO LIVE. The country is bursting at the seams with oil money. People are relocating to Lagos and Abuja on assignments or to share in Nigeria’s affluence. When will the budget be announced? Why is the Finance Minister paying civil service salaries late? I’m in deep reminiscence: Friends I know in the USA can do wonders to develop my home country. I am spending about N1,500 ($10) every hour on MTN recharge card just to keep in touch with friends. The N5,000 Etisalat internet I am using to send this email will soon finish and and I’ll spend another N5,000. This is just a partial list of the possibilities.
1. Odunukwe Eye Clinics
2. Oranika Small Loans Servicing
3. Ifekanku Metro PCS
4. Ofuaka Residential, Commercial & Auto security
5. Onyeagba Funeral Directors
6. Cadibex Real Estate and Construction Companies
7. Oge Tire & Mechnix Shops
8. A & G Petroleum Products (refinery and Sales)
9. Onyirimba, Nwosu & Okeke Law Firms
10. Marbleton Killimanjaro Night Club
11. Igwebuike Hospitality and Travel Services
12. Ojunta International Schools & School for Children with Special Needs
13. Green & White Limousine Services
14. Kalu Fried Chicken )KFC)
15. Okafor Amusement Parks
16. Airport Shuttles
17. Six Flags Over Abuja & Six Flags Over Lagos
18. Nigerian Museum of Arts and History
In Nigeria, there are no impossibilities. You just have to believe. If Diaspora Nigerians can Western Union $20billion each year to folks back home they can conquer the seemingly impossible task of building wealth with a fraction of that much. There is so money in Nigeria if you have patience and can wait.
My Ndizuogu driver whom I was paying N15,000 ($100) for a few hours of work each day, has just fired me. This is a country where the legislature had set the monthly minimum wage at N18,000 ($120), My driver is now a millionaire with a simple idea . His wife fries 800 akara balls each day. Eight hundred akara balls at N10 each give my former driver and his wife an income of N8, 000 a, day or N240,000 a month , or N2,880,000 each year. Double this amount when you add income from khunu, kpoff kpoff, chinchin, bread, iced water, garri, rice, kerosene, and soup ingredients. My driver grosses roughly close to N5.5million ($40,000) each year. As I was questioning him for this report, I noticed a sly smile on his very dark, rat-like face. The akara balls sell out before 10am each morning. The rest of the day is spent sleeping or coming over to preach at me about the Kingdom of God while his teenage sons man the store till past midnight. I paid him N1,600 for bottles of khunu (non-alcoholic, fattening Hausa beverage) visitors come to visit me with “oke akpiri” (greedy appetites) .
I am just returning from Zuba, 25 minutes north of Abuja, a city the Igbos are developing with leaps and bounds to serve as warehouses to store goods moving from Lagos to Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto and far-off North in preparation for FG construction of 1,000 schools. Nigeria has lots of money. I went to a Lagos market to change some dollars to Naira and the Awusa man I approached asked if I wanted to change $1million. I looked at him with disdain, and he led me to a room with bales and bales of new US dollars. You can easily fly the Delta with $20,000 in your pocket. I ate at the home of this 40-year-old Igbo importer. “How much are you worth and how do you make the millions I hear you make each year?” I asked. He answered: “Thank God.” Politicians stealing billions of Naira from the treasury make my A** hurt when asked how they amass great wealth and they tell you “Thank God” as though God were the chairman of their robbery squad. I hate this type of answer.
I got the same answer from classmates, retired Army General, Navy Rear Admirals, and Ambassadors. Even the builder that graduated from IMT years after I taught there as Senior Lecturer gave the same dumb response. So did the importer who sells exotic building materials from China and Turkey (I watched him sell a huge double oak door for N450,000 ($3,000) for a N150million ($1million) mansion, to an Igbo woman. The builder with diploma from IMT specializes in building nothing but estates for thieving politicians, with prices starting at N900 million. He once asked me to buy a N300million property. I asked him: “Did you buy your first house for N300million and where do you expect me to find that money? Rob the Central bank of Nigeria?” I’m not jealous or easily intimidated; just want my share.
Wealthy Nigerians have stolen enough while serving as politicians, in the armed forces, on government contracts. Now, upon retirement, they run huge farm and animal husbandry with subsidized implements. One old classmate swears he has no money but visits pieces of property at Abuja, Lagos, Jos, and runs government engineering construction contracts. I am driving to Jos to lodge at one of his hotels and bed-and-breakfasts. I’m sick of these classmates asking me: “What kept you away from Nigeria for too long?” My usual answer is :”Damn. Just give me government contracts, my friend. Shit!” They show me their mansions and ask me to show mine, “I can get a mansion but you can’t get my bookology.” I turn and switch my Atlanta butt, then flash a smile.