The Subsidy Video



 By Damola Awoyokun

‘Yes, Femi speaking.’ ‘Femo la la!’ ‘Who is this? The line is faint. I cannot hear you very well.’

‘Ho-nou-rable Fa-ro-uk’

‘Frank Owl? Of the British High Commission?’

No, this is Farouk of Bribery High Commission.’

‘I don’t know you. Wrong number. Goodbye.’

‘I know whom I am calling. Femo, if you drop that call, walahi, I will drop you in jail. Kai! Sege dan buro uba!’

‘Ok, what can I do for you?’

‘I have done a comprehensive investigation on you. You pay your income taxes, social security, customs and excise tax, VAT, mineral rights, stamp duties, you service your joint venture licences but you treasonably forget to pay your National Assembly taxes. Since 1999 you have dodged this important tax. Femo la la, you can run but you cannot hide.’

‘Honourable, I dey laugh o! With all due respect, you sound like a tattered policeman at a checkpoint on Benin-Ore expressway who, having seen all the car documents he had asked for, started asking for marriage certificate of the vehicle, what is your car’s JAMB score, did it meet the cut-off mark? If not, park here.’

‘It is disrespect like that that makes me wish to bring back the Abacha era. Gaskia, I would have had you thrown in Gashua prison for an untrue coup. Is it because I am a pint-sized, baby-faced man who can fit easily into your briefcase that you disrespect me so much? You are speaking to the internationally acclaimed lion of anticorruption in the House, the dispatcher of Speaker Etteh, the life chairman of Integrity Group and the longest serving legislator in the history of the country.’

‘I repeat, what can I do for you?’

‘Femo la la, the wind has blown and the hen’s beautiful fluff has unravelled to reveal the ugly and stinking ass beneath. You drive a sardanapalian Bugatti Veyron heretically on Nigerian roads! Sege daniska! You have villas in several cities in Nigeria, and all over the world. But I, Honourable Farouk, have uncovered the corruption enriching you. You have been collecting subsidies for petrol that never arrived, transporting it on a canoe in Benin and calling it a ship from Berlin.’

‘My company is not involved in the subsidy racket.’

‘Megida, that na story. Two of your companies are No 5 and 6 in the report. I, Lion of Anticorruption, will             soon publish and send it to EFCC for further action. Remember what happened to your friend Cecilia Ibru.’ ‘Honourable, I am clean, please.’

‘Even your Bible says, “If you O Lord should mark our guilt, who shall survive?”’

‘Well, that same Bible criticised those that are not prepared when the Lion of Judah comes.’

‘There you are! Femo la la, I know you are prepared for me, you are just pretending. I understand, I too pretend a lot. Anyway, we need to buy a small eraser to wipe off your companies from the corruption list. The eraser is produced and sold only in National Assembly stationery stores. It costs just $3 million.’

‘No way!’

‘It was the same eraser Chuba Okadigbo used to remove his name from the conclusions of Idris Kuta report. It works.’

‘My international partners will break their juicy ties with me if they realise my audited financial report contained expenditure for an eraser from the National Assembly Bribery High Commission. I cannot tarnish my international reputation sir.’

‘You think your international reputation matters more than your National Assembly reputation? Are you are not a patriot at all? I am ashamed of you. Let the kite eat and the eagle eat, if one tries to prevent the other, may its wing break. Masalam.’

‘Wait Honourable, don’t cut off yet. I’ll consider it. But this is Friday afternoon. It’s already late to withdraw that amount from my bank. Will you accept bank transfer?’

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‘Bank transfer? So that they can later trace me? Do you think I am a fool? I am a honours graduate, remember?’

‘I only have a mere $700,000 in cash at home for the weekend.’

‘We can start from there, Chief OteDollar.’

‘Mr. pls, Mr.’

‘Chief or Mr., it is the rolling Dollars that matter.’

‘That means I would go hungry for the weekend if you have everything’

‘Don’t worry, you are doing it for your fatherland. Listen, Femo la la, meet me tonight at the usual place with the suitcase.’

‘I don’t know the usual place.’

‘You don’t know the hotel downtown Abuja whose 13th floor all National Assembly deals like this are settled with suitcases? The 12th floor is where cases with the Presidency are settled. The 11th floor is EFCC’s, the 10th CBN’s, from basement to the 9th floor is PDP’s. And the busiest floor is the 14th, for NNPC matters. I have seen you there many times with big luggage. Your tricks can’t work with me, I am too clever. You kow the place.’


‘Also book a room on the 15th floor directly above NNPC and install two handkerchief-clothed heavy-duty chassis girls there for me. I am like Napoleon. Being a short man, he liked to do big things at big places.’

‘Honourable, I am not happy about this blackmail at all.’

‘By the time I present the report to the nation on Monday and the other subsidy thieves begin to crumble, you’ll be the last man standing, then you will remember your Honourable Frank Owl and you will be grateful for wetting his beak earlier. Femo lala, one more thing: the girls may not be educated but make sure they are graduates. They may have STDs, that is, Sexually Transmitted Degrees from any southern university but make sure they are HIV-free o. As a mallam, I don’t believe in wearing socks before putting on shoes. I hate subsidising risks.’

‘Honourable, I learned a warning from my father. He said I should beware when life begins to resemble movies. Movies should imitate life not life should imitate movies. ‘

‘So? I didn’t ask for alcohol to spice up my Friday though I am from Kano. I only asked for women and here you are lecturing me about movies. How dare you? If you don’t take time I will run you out of the oil industry completely, then you can go and imitate movies in Edidi lane.’

‘Lights, camera, action! I will bring the suitcase by 11 p.m. But remember, when the Axe first came to the forest, the trees said to themselves do not be afraid, the handle is one of us.’


‘I dey laugh o. Honourable, don’t mind me. I am trying to be funny. I know you are a serious man unlike other National Assembly representathieves. I know meticulous research has gone into the subsidy report. My maritime insurers in London informed me your adhoc committee came over for enquiries into my ships. Like the policeman at checkpoint on Benin-Ore expressway, you asked if the spare tyres of my ships are ok, if their brake lights and reverse lights work well. If two tyres burst at the same time on the high seas, is there a good jack on board to change them without causing oil spillage? Sir, I have absolute faith in the seriousness of your report. Do me well please, the Napoleon of the House, the notable leader of Integrity Group!’

‘I will erase your companies’ names before Monday if you sort me out properly tonight. See you later Femo la la! Bye!’

‘Bye.’ Honourable, you are toast.

‘Yes, hello, Committee for Relevant Arts? It’s Femi calling. I want to know the best director in Nollywood today…Chief Hubert Ogunde? Good. Can you fly him over to my office as soon as possible please? We need to discuss.’

•Awoyokun wrote this piece for TheNEWS magazine from London.

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