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Okada Drivers’ Analysis of 2014 Budget By Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo

“Everyone is involved in the budget- making process. Both the intelligent and the unintelligent. Even okada drivers have become budget analysts.” Dr. Reuben Abati on SaharaTV.

“Everyone is involved in the budget- making process. Both the intelligent and the unintelligent. Even okada drivers have become budget analysts.” Dr. Reuben Abati on SaharaTV.

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(Somewhere in Oshodi, Lagos. Mid-day. Two okada drivers meet each other as they take a break. )

Driver No1: O’ boy, Happy New Year to you.
Driver No2: Happy New Year, my brother. How market?
Driver No1: O’boy things dey slow. Since this budget commot, nothing dey move.
Driver No2: Which budget?
Driver No1: The federal budget.
Driver No2: Oh, I never see am. I still dey talk about that huge crocodile captured in Omole Estate. Imagine, the thing spoke to people asking for a human being to eat.
Driver No1: Forget that long tori. This budget has better stories inside.
Driver No2: You get copy for here?
Driver No1: Yeah! (He dips his hand into a goat skin bag attached to the passenger seat. He brings out a worn out bound copy of Obasanjo’s Letter to Jonathan, he places it on his motorbike’s gas tank. He digs deeper, brings out Aba made copy of “Foreign Gods Inc.” by Okey Ndibe. Again he drops it on the gas tank. And then he finds a rumpled copy of the budget. He hands it over to Driver No2)
Driver No2: Wetin dey there? Abeg tell me, hunger dey wire me. I no fit read now.
Driver No1: Ok, wetin you wan know?
Driver No2: How much the president dey get for food allowance this year?
Driver No1: Very interesting that you went to that one. It actually came down this year.
Driver No2: To what?
Driver No1: Only N362 million.
Driver No2: Ah! They don tie someone belly be that.
Driver No1: For where?
Driver No2: For Germany.
Driver No1:No, I mean, they know say some of you go fix your eyes for that one so they cut am down. That should tell you all that the defense they put up the last time that the allowance was almost N1 billion naira was shakara. But they come shift the money to other places.
Driver No2: Like where?
Driver No1: They budgeted N872 million for generators in Nigerian embassies around the world including embassies in Washington and New York. Me, I never enter plane before but I know say NEPA no dey take power for New York the way dey take power for here in Oshodi.
Driver No2: They think say we be mumu.
Driver No1: There is more. They have N30 million in the budget for our embassies in Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Algeria, Ghana, etc to maintain their jets and boats.
Driver No2: Nigerian embassies get boats and private jets?
Driver No1: How I go know? I’ve never been inside any Nigerian embassy before.
Driver No2: Maybe the private jet na for emergency. Maybe if there is war in that country the ambassador will jump into the jet and fly out.
Driver No1: So, do you know how many embassies we have around the world? If they all get a jet, then we are finished. What’s the sense in getting a jet for the embassy when you cannot pay embassy workers?
Driver No2: They no dey pay our embassy workers?
Driver No1: I read that in a newspaper. Some of the workers say they clean toilets in places like Germany to make ends meet.
Driver No2: Me, I no go clean white man’s toilet. Instead make I stay here dey suffer. And about the boat… where man fit run go with a boat?
Driver No1: How I go know? Ok, now the president is using N1.9 billion to make a down payment for a new jet.
Driver No2: Wetin be down payment?
Driver No1: Na when you make a deposit and then make payment every month until you finish the whole payment.
Driver No2: Oh! Na so I dey take pay for this my okada. But come o, the president dey buy one jet every year?
Driver No1: I don’t know. Some papers say this will be the 11th presidential jet. While serious Presidents like Malawian president is selling off the only one they have due to high cost of maintenance, our man wey no get shoes few years ago dey add one a year. The down payment thing na trick. Before dey go just buy the thing outright. Now, thanks to Stella Oduah’s N255 million BMW strategy, they spread it out so that you don’t see the real cost and hala.
Driver No2: This people dey take us like real mumu.
Driver No1: It hasn’t finished o. The president is asking for N1.6 billion for Baylsea state.
Driver No2: For wetin?
Driver No1:To connect the state to the national grid.
Driver No2:Ok. That one good now.
Driver No1: But people say the job was completed in 2006.
Driver No2: So na ghost contract be that.
Driver No1: And so on and so forth. Two animals for villa zoo go cost N34.5 million. For foreign trips the president will spend N2.4 billion, without any guarantee that he will make a speech when he gets there. The executive branch will spend N7 billion just to travel this year. And listen to this one- the president who talk say power go dey stable before July this year but he still dey budget over N800 million for Aso Rock generator. That one suppose make you feel confidence say everything go dey alright.
Driver No2: They don finish us for this country. But wetin Ngozi Okonjo Iweala dey say about all these things? I hear say she’s coordinating the economy.
Driver No1: Na she take the budget go present to the house.
Driver No2: No, she didn’t.
Driver No 1: Yes, she did.
Driver No 2: Why she no remove all those fake things in the budget?
Driver No1: Maybe she did not read it.
Driver No2: How can she present what she didn’t read? With all her Harvard education?
Driver No1: You no hear say $10 billion was missing from the Federal Account because NNPC failed to report it? Did Ngozi, the minister of finance and the coordinating minister of the economy say anything about it? Eh? You no hear say she tell the National Assembly that she didn’t know anything about N200 billion kerosene subsidy. She said na NNPC go explain it.
Driver No2: And she is the coordinating minister of the economy? Na like that she take rise come become Vice President for World Bank? Eh! So na true say all of dem full of dorti-dorti?
Driver No1: Capital expenditure na only N27%. Others na debt servicing and recurrent expenditure.
Driver No2: Wetin be the difference between capital and recurrent?
Driver No1: Capital na new things they wan do. Recurrent na the money wey dey done spend jeje.
Driver No2: E get as e bi. All those people na winchi. Otherwise how dey go turn 150 million of us into mumu. As for the government, why do they do these things to themselves? Tomorrow they go shed crocodile tears. This one, no opposition media made them table this kin budget.
Driver No 1: Na yawa!
Driver No 2: But em, I hear say the budget na just a proposal. The National Assembly will surely strike out useless things in there.
Driver No1: Which National Assembly? These people wey go just collect bribe from ministers and close nose sign off on it.
Driver No 2: E don reach like that?
Driver No1: In fact, they go insert their own ojolo into the budget to swell the stealing. To tell you how serious the thing is, the budget is $29 billion but NNPC alone cannot account for $10 billion oil revenue in one year.
Driver No2: My prayer be say make God butter my bread this year. I go join them and get my own share. Na awoof everybody dey look for. No be so?
Driver No1: You suppose start with that crocodile you were talking about. If you had taken it to Abuja, it could be the first animal in the Villa zoo. You go begin to chop.
Driver No2: E get as ebe. This country get money yet man pikin dey suffer.
Driver No1: You know you can change career.
Driver No2: Like what?
Driver No1: Be a militant. 30,000 of them are taken care of in the budget. They are getting paid. Millions!
Driver No2: Man pikin don tire o. So who dey look out for people like me and you in this budget? Dey go chop remain for people like us?
Driver No1: Everyman for himself. That’s Nigeria for you. They talk say the economy dey grow by 6% every year. So if you open your mouth well well, one day roasted cricket go fall in.
Driver No2: (Screams) Comot for road! That kabu-kabu driver dey drive like a drunk man.
Driver No1: (Dodges. His Okada falls on the ground. He recovers and picks his okada up and gathers his papers on the floor.) Chie! Who send am? No be me he see. It’s not my portion.
Driver No2: Just like that, everything for dabaru now for you.
Driver No1: See me see trouble! (dusts off his pants)
Driver No2: About that Aso Rock zoo, is it late for me to find that talking crocodile seen in Omole Estate? We fit sell am to the president.
Driver No1: Why will he want a crocodile?
Driver No2: Mobuto had one. So did Idi Amin. He go dey feed the animal with his enemies. And save money.
Driver No1: Despite the talk about Sniper List, the president is not a violent man. E go better if you sell it to him as an Aso Rock resident that will be producing crocodile tears for the villa.
(Driver No3 pulls up near Driver No 1 and Driver No2. They exchange pleasantries)
Driver No3: Wetin una dey talk about?
Driver No1: Na this 2014 budget.
Driver No3: So wetin Reuben Abati talk na true?
Driver No 1: Wetin he talk?
Driver No 3: He talk say unintelligent Okada drivers dey discuss budget too. Ah!
Driver No 1: Na lie. The man don lose his mind, I know but he no fit talk something like that. Ah. He no go dey government forever.
Driver No 3: I swear. I read am for Punch newspaper today.
Driver No 1: (Calls on a vendor passing along the other side of the road.) Vendor! Vendor! Vendor! You get Punch?
Driver No 3: Lookia my friend, leave the vendor alone. Who reads newspaper hardcopy these days? Come make I show you the story on my phone internet.
Driver No2: (Rubs his right hand over his stomach)My man, e don do for me. Abeg, make I go fin passenger. I no fit sit down here dey talk while the people who dey chop dey chop and dey wipe mouth.

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