The Pursuit of Money

by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

Skin or hang yourself if you don’t have money. And I don’t mean small change, I mean the big bucks. Correctly or incorrectly, money is all that matters in present-day Nigeria. How much are you worth? Without money your opinion will most likely not count; most people will not pay you attention or consider you to be of substance. Ok, you are learned, so what? (People like you are dime-a-dozen.) You are nice and kind and loving, so what? (The movies and religious houses are full of people like you.)

True but painful: most of the times, most people don’t care about your ideas and ideals and worldviews. Do you have money? Are you rich? How and when it was acquired is irrelevant. Most people don’t care about the source of your wealth, and so forget legality or illegality: do you have money? That’s the question. And what’s your answer? The most important and ballsy Nigerians today are the money bags. They are mostly bastards, but that’s ok, Nigerians love duplicitous bastards; Nigerians kneel and prostrate for them.

To be honest: I am jealous of rich people, especially the really wealthy people. Having never been a rich or wealthy person, I cannot imagine how it feels to live one’s life free from everyday financial restrictions and challenges.

It must be nice to wake up in luxury and opulence and with some of the most beautiful women nature can afford, be able to fly to Paris for weekend shopping, have unfettered access to the rich and the powerful, be able to snap your fingers if you wanted it to rain.

It must be nice to have people pay attention to your every sneeze, coughs, debris, and pronouncements. Even when you expel a flatus through your anus, people pay attention, they smile. I am thinking it must be nice to have an array of people at your beck and call.

When you have such riches, combined with power, you just might begin to feel like a god. Well, I really wouldn’t mind being a god. Personally, I have never really been fond of modest and self-effacing people. They bore me. Humility should be a crime.

I know what the Bible and the Koran and other holy books say about riches and power and arrogance and other worldly possessions. But hey, I don’t care. Poverty is a nasty state of being. You have to be foolish to detest riches; and dumb to be humble and meek.

Common, what’s the point in being meek? You want to inherent the earth? Oops, that’s nonsense. You won’t. You can’t. Meekness will get you nowhere. People will walk on you, spit on you and boss you around if you are weak and meek and obedient.

The more I think about my current status — and it hasn’t changed in the last twenty-five years — the more I get angry at myself. I had the opportunity to play and party with the big-boys, I didn’t. I had the opportunity to keep a slice of what belonged to me, I didn’t.

Damn, I had the opportunity to grab some of the petro-dollars but I didn’t. Contract papers were everywhere. When I lived at 35 Queens Drive I knew politicians and Officers and people in between. In other words, the opportunity was there for me, but I didn’t go for it.

A quarter century later, I am still as poor as a church rat. Let me tell you something: when I was a little boy growing up in Nigeria, one heard about fabulously rich men. We heard about them and about their lives and lifestyles mostly from songs.

The role, place and status of these men were heralded in music performed by such artists as Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, the Oriental Brother, Shina Peters/Adwale, Haruna Ishola, and others. We also saw them on the pages of newspapers and society-magazines.

To see some of these men in public, you’d have to attend access-only parties in places like Ikeja, Apapa, and Ikoyi, or the elite clubs that dot Lagos. I don’t know how these men made their money; but, in my recall, they were not as hated as the rich men of today.

For the past several months I have been thinking: how do I alter my financial condition, how do I move from poverty to riches and from financial want to financial surplus. There has to be a way. In fact, I have devised several ways, but I am not telling. Why should I?

The next you see me, I will be swimming with the big-boys, I will be dancing with the stars, I will be in the company of the most beautiful women on this or the other side of the Atlantic. I will be here and there and everywhere. I’ll be rich. I go dey Kampe!

But first, I have to be a journalist: a practicing journalist in Nigeria. Nigerian journalists are a rich bunch. Now, I am not talking about the street-walkers. To make the big bucks, you have to be high up on the ladder, i.e. be on the editorial board, be an editor, etc, etc.

If you are high up in the Guardian, Vanguard, ThisDay or other media, you get to “meet with” the folks at Aso Rock or the various State Houses, the National Assembly, the financial and security establishments and other power houses. No separation of power.

Journalists and managers who “sleep” with government officials are rewarded. Not all journalists and managers are corrupt, though. No, I am not going to say that. I don’ want to upset everyone. It is one thing to offend government, quite another to upset the media.

These journalists are rich and powerful. They write about things they really don’t mean. Did the folks at ThisDay, Punch, Vanguard and the Guardian mean what they wrote about Obasanjo and his government? The owners didn’t have the balls to go after OBJ.

Today, they are in Yar’Adua’s camp. Ok, let me stop here. Stop! You see after I wrote some uncomplimentary stuff about “the big guys in the big media houses,” they stopped publishing me. They banished me, bruised my ego and self-esteem… Stop…Stop…Stop!

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