One of these days, as this article warns, we are just gonna run out of our precious oil. In fact, folks in the World Bank have gone to purchase the dust jackets for the files marked “Nigerian Oil”. Just like that. No warning, no announcements. And that would be the end of the whole freaking show. And when that day finally arrives there is a particular person’s face I’ll be eager to see. Hell, I’ll even pay good cash for that privilege.
Of course, as an avid reader of this blog, you know who I’m gunning for: that future president of the not-so-distant future Nigeria. The scenario where this realization takes place would be something straight out of a Nollywood farce. And in this blog’s continuous attempts at widening the scope of your imagination, let’s fast forward 40 odd years from today and see how the final act of our funny play pans out.
Mr President has recently been sworn into office and he is ready to begin some hard work like any honest African Head of State.
And to get things started, the elated president calls in his recently appointed, Harvard educated and fresh-faced Minister of Finance into his office so the two of them can delineate how the sweet oil money would be spent by the new administration—and as every self-respecting politician will tell you, fixing your own salary and allowances is very satisfying work.
This time around, however, affairs are not so joyous. The minister nervously informs the president that the federation account is empty, the external reserves are depleted, the sovereign wealth fund has been devalued, and in short, no money.
“Well, so raise some taxes, export some cash crops or minerals, whatever! This is a goddamn country, man, not a university undergraduate. We can’t just be ‘broke’!” The enraged president thunders.
“Sir, even if we start to implement all of these now, it would take up to 10 years before we can raise the amount needed to cover the presidential budget, let alone the legislature and other allocations.”
“Then go into the streets of Lagos and other major cities, and tax the businesses seriously. Collect all the money! Bring all the food! Whip the people if necessary!”
The recently appointed, Harvard educated and fresh-faced Minister of Finance gives his president a very strong are-you-kidding-me look and promptly tenders his resignation on the spot.
That is the moment it clearly dawns on this not-so-distant-future president that things have gone really, really bad. That awesome moment when tears are springing from his eyes and his fingers shake on the table. That swell moment when he remembers how he bribed and begged his way to the presidency, spending personal money to get to the top—and he realises that he has been cheated out of his turn at the national cake. That fantastic moment when he understands that he has nothing to look forward to as president of a hopeless treasury, and he contemplates resigning—yes, freeze the frame on that fine moment. The president’s face at that point, that’s the face I want to see, badly.