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Welcome, the real great depression

‘Please help me beg Mr Thomas’ wept Cynthia as she came back from that day’s ‘marketing’.  Mr Thomas was the Director of Finance at one…

‘Please help me beg Mr Thomas’ wept Cynthia as she came back from that day’s ‘marketing’.  Mr Thomas was the Director of Finance at one of the country’s many parastatals, which are saddled with the onerous task of ‘finishing’ billions of Naira in budgets every year.  It didn’t matter if there was nothing to show for so much spending.  Staff milled around at this parastatal with very little to do each day.  Cynthia continued, salt water flowing freely from her tear glands; ‘I told him I didn’t want anything sexually with him, but he won’t let me rest.. and he calls himself a Pastor’.  ‘Today when I entered his office he started harassing me’.  As she narrated this to me, all I felt was anger.  Anger at Mr Thomas, anger at Nigeria and what we’ve all become…  

Across the road in one of the banks whose name proclaim trust, reliance and all other good things, but in which no one trust themselves, Aisha, one of the bank’s operations officers was thinking about the same matter.  Though she was in operations department, and her biggest daily worry should be how to process her cash and cheques accurately without errors, and how to prevent frauds, she had been awarded a ‘target’ by head office in their renewed ‘deposit drive’.  Now she found herself committing many errors as her mind strayed to the problem at hand every so often.  They had all been given such targets in her department, with a warning that whoever failed to achieve same, should consider themselves fired.

When Aisha had found time to go and visit one of the ‘big men’ she thought she knew in his office with the sole purpose of getting him to part with some deposit to assist her, the first thing the man said to her when they were alone was ‘Did you bring a condom?’  Now as she stared at the ceiling of the banking hall, she half-regretted storming out of the man’s office in anger.  Six of her siblings were in school and they depended on what she earned monthly.  Her ageing parents also looked up to her.  Now all that seemed ready to disappear through the window…  Perhaps she should go back and beg the ‘big man’ for forgiveness, and this time she should carry the required instrument along…  

Afterall, Chinwe, that popularly loose girl became an AGM five years after youth service just for ‘doing’ the right thing… and Aisha had been there at the last MPR (Management Performance Review) when her MD had told one of the branch managers ‘it is not my business that your father is a poor man, get your target or you are out, stupid fool like you!’, in front of 100 other people. The previous MPR session, they stood one of the female managers in front of the audience and washed her down with words like ‘look at you, you can’t even take good care of yourself, you stink!  How did we make you manager self?’  The lady wept and wept that day.  ‘What kind of life is this?’ Aisha thought…

Everyone in the bank knew Mr Pee.  That was his alias.  Young guys in the bank looked up to him.  You could smell his Paco Rabane perfume from a mile away.  His suits were dapper and well-fitting.  They were sown by that Indian guy who visits from Hong Kong.  Each suit cost at least $1,500 and they were made of the rarest materials on earth.  His shoes were vintage and his white shirts always glistened.  He was also a ‘car freak’.  In his house in VGC are parked the latest edition of Lamborghini and the late 2008 edition of Porsche and Carrera. There was also a grey Bentley and the cream-coloured Rolls Royce Phantom which he only used for special occasions.  On normal days he rolled out in a navy blue Mercedes Benz S Class, custom-built and bullet proof.  These were separate from his other official cars, which included a 2009 Toyota Landcruiser, a 7-Series BMW and a 2009 Honda Accord.   Mr Pee is only a Deputy General Manager, but a billionaire many times over.

Everyone knew Mr Pee was a ‘deals man’.  No one obtains a loan from his department without parting with 30% of the gross.  If you committed to giving him his cut, he would ensure you got the loan.  Now his bank’s bad and delinquent loan portfolio is growing in leaps and bounds, but Mr Pee still appears to be in good spirit.  He flies first-class all around the world, with the best ‘chicks’ in tow.  His marriage was in tatters, but there was money to spend and life to live.  However in the deepest recess of his heart, he knew he was the most fraudulent, and dumbest liar in the world.  But no one has told him to stop…

Alhaji Maikudi frowned at all the papers on his desk.  It was another day at the Secretariat which almost seemed for him like second home now.  He had worked in at least 8 ministries and gathered tremendous experience over the past 24 years before rising to the level of Deputy Director.  Haba, he thought, how can they expect anyone at his level, three wives, 14 children, 8 of which were in university, to survive on N120,000 per  month.  That is even his consolidated salary after that Obasanjo man came out with his monetisation.  Well, thought Alhaji, every signature should fetch him something, and he must survive, and survive well at that.  He was a turbanned chief in his village and there were expectations.

He thought about the visit yesterday from the Executive Director of the International Global Trust Bank.  They had negotiated to retain the funds meant for treating leprosy patients in a current account.  His monthly cut was 10% until they could no longer hold the funds and either returned it to government or had to spend it on the people it was meant for.  Who cares anyway; life they say, is unfair.  Government itself was unfair to civil servants.

Nigeria and its banks have created an uncontrollable atmosphere for crime and corruption. Many people within the banks don’t like what’s going on. They yearn that a Messiah may come and save them from the path of destruction… Who will cast out the demons from this banking industry?