I was in Saudi Arabia for Christmas…
Me: Salaam alaikum.
Abubakar Muhammad: Salaam alaikum my brother, how may I help you.
Me: I am here to wish my country’s president a merry Christmas and to convey the wishes of the country to him.
Abubakar Muhammad: Ah, I suppose you are Nigerian?
Me: Yes I am. Is it that obvious? I thought my accent is quite English enough. I didn’t realise some traces of my Nigerian background still seeped through.
Abubakar Muhammad: No, sorry effendi. It is not your accent, in fact I was pleasantly surprised with your fluency when you said “salaam alaikum”. It is just that we do not have any president in our country, except of course the president of your country. Right now we are even slightly unsure of the protocols to extend to him, since our country is ruled by a monarch.
Me: I must apologise for the minor inconvenience that our dear president has constituted since his arrival here. But you should also look on the bright side, not many countries have the privilege of hosting the ruling president of another country for 32 days. In fact, we are considering conferring on Jeddah the status of the second capital city of Nigeria. As part of our gratitude to your nation for taking excellent care of our Excellency, we would grant Nigerian citizenship to all the citizens of Jeddah. I have come here with 4 million blank passports for this purpose.
Abubakar Muhammad: Em, that is a practical step to take, I mean the second capital city status for Jeddah. However I am not sure we would encourage our citizens to take the dual citizenship offer. I can’t think of any benefits that might accrue to them if they do, other than ridicule at many airports should they choose to travel with their new Nigerian passports.
Me: Ah my brother, I should enlighten you. With a Nigerian citizenship, you are guaranteed many rights that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Freedom from conviction for any minor crime like looting the treasury is guaranteed for instance. In addition, your Nigerian passport means you can be appointed to work in government in Nigeria and believe me when I say this, if you are so appointed, you will never be poor again. And the beauty of this arrangement is that being citizens of Jeddah, you do not even have to travel to Nigeria to be appointed. My brother, the advantages are immense.
Abubakar Muhammad: You mean my potential Nigerian citizenship grants me these benefits? So if I defraud the Nigerian government, I won’t be prosecuted?
Me: No, I didn’t say you won’t be prosecuted. I said you won’t be convicted. You may need to settle some prosecuting officers in the process, but you would come out relatively unscathed. In fact the more you loot, the better for you. It also helps if you can influence the appointment of the chief prosecuting officer of Nigeria. Then the sovereign might of the country will be brought to bear to ensure you are not convicted.
Abubakar Muhammad: That sounds like a looters paradise to me.
Me: I won’t put it quite like that, but as a nation we give our citizens some leeway where government fraud is concerned. It is part of our fiscal policies for wealth redistribution.
Abubakar Muhammad: Well, let me take you in to see you President. But I am afraid he is in no position to see anyone or talk to anyone. Though in the spirit of your Christmas, I will let you in. As you must be aware, we do not celebrate Christmas in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Me: Thanks. Can you tell me in confidence, when is the president likely to come back to work?
Abubakar Muhammad: Are you joking? We trying to get him back to life. Getting back to work is virtually out of it. Do you want to kill him?
Me: No, heaven forbid. Why would I want to kill him? Actually, we only need him back in the office for a day.
Abubakar Muhammad: A day?
Me: Yes. So he can sign the budget for the next fiscal year and also to appoint the new Chief Justice of Nigeria. After that, we promise to return him to you.
Abubakar Muhammad: Are you kidding me?
Me: My brother, I am not a man for jokes. I have not flown here on a $5 million per day project to crack jokes. In fact, to show you the gravity of my mission the Christmas card for him which I have here is worth $1millon. The contract to supply this was granted 2 days ago to my brother-in-law. This is an expensive mission not a joke-cracking one.
Abubakar Muhammad: A million dollar Christmas card?!!! That must be a world record. Where was it made? What is it made of? Me: My brother, you still do not understand how this thing works. The card itself cost less than $20, but the contract to supply it is $1million. That’s how we roll in Nigeria, don’t you get it?
Abubakar Muhammad: Oh, an inflated contract?
Me: Did I say anything about inflated contracts? There is just a minor disparity between the cost price of the card and the total contract value. That difference is the supplier’s profit. You won’t object to making a profit, would you?
Abubakar Muhammad: I am speechless. Here we are, there is the President.
Abubakar Muhammad: There.
Me: Where there? I can only see tubes, machines and a pile of bandages.
Abubakar Muhammad: Yes, that’s him all right. If you look carefully, he is in the middle of all the tubes and machines, neatly wrapped in bandages like you called them. That’s what is keeping him alive.
Me: Can he hear me?
Abubakar Muhammad: No.
Me: Can he speak?
Abubakar Muhammad: No.
Me: I guess he can’t see what’s going on around.
Abubakar Muhammad: You guessed right.
Me: That’s good.
Abubakar Muhammad: What?
Me: Yes, it’s good. I will stay in Jeddah for the next few days. Would you be kind to show me the interesting sights in the city?
Abubakar Muhammad: What about your reason for coming here to see your president?
Me: Obviously he can’t see me. And I have $15million allocated for this trip, $5million per day. If I go back to Nigeria immediately, I may have to forfeit the allocation. But if I stay and moonlight for a few days, then it’s a successful mission.
Abubakar Muhammad: So what would you tell your government when you get back to Nigeria.
Me: Ah, I will convey the goodwill message from the president in Jeddah, that he is recuperating quite fast and would return to Nigeria soon, insha Allah.
Abubakar Muhammad: But you have not spoken to him, neither can he speak to you.
Me: Yes, but you are the only one who knows that, and I am leaving a third of the $15million for you. Your new Nigerian passport would be in a bag with a draft made out in your name. I am sending it to your house once I leave here.
Abubakar Muhammad: But how did you know my name and my house address?
Me: That is easy, I am a Nigerian and you are one now as well. Merry Christmas my friend.