...Frugal Party for Expensive Freedom

September 26, 2015.

When was the last time you heard our Government set aside anything less than #100million for anything? What was he thinking? Does he realise this is the giant of Africa and the continent's largest economy? What he has done is nothing short of a disgrace to the status and integrity of the federal republic of Nigeria.

How can President Buhari reluctantly approve a budget of #70million for this year's Independence Day Celebration. Has he not heard that anything worth doing is worth doing well? In previous administrations, that amount could not even cater for logistics. Wont the President buy a new suit for that all-important speech- specially ordered from Milan? What about the shoes to go with it? This man doesn't know what he is doing.

Did he also consider the cost of media coverage and publicity? I know you might want to call that propaganda, but Christians call it Faith- substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen. So by stating on national and international media "those things that be not as though they were" is an act of Faith.

We have to project Nigeria in good light and that requires a lot of media mobilization- from media hospitality, transport stipends, independence bonus and kits, to souvenirs and editor's tips- all these cost money and cannot be achieved with a paltry #70million. We cannot afford objective reporting. We will pay with our true image- so we must mobilize.

What about the celebration proper? Has he considered the cost of putting together a mega event that is befitting of a mega country like Nigeria? We need to make a strong political statement with this year's celebration, that despite everything, we dey "kampe." Moreover, we were at one time the happiest people in the world. We can be happy again.

The ministry of embellishments (or what Victor Ehikhamenor calls Ministry of Effizzy) alone requires more than #70million to put these things in place. The huge posters that will display the faces of the President and his Vice, alongside those of our Nationalists and past presidents and heads of states must be of the highest quality, designed and produced in Europe or America.

That is apart from the decoration of the Federal Capital Territory, multimedia expenses, and cost of hiring the services of entertainers like the Koko Master who will thrill our guests at the event. Hospital for invited guests and so many other diplomatic obligations that require money must also be considered. President Buhari should have also thought about funding the different committees that will be set up to handle the different aspects of the anniversary. These are patriotic men and women who have been called to serve their country in this exalted capacity. We cannot starve them of funds.

What about the After party? I hope Mr. President does not intend to expunge our 'Owambe' culture? If he is, I rebuke such plans by the Holy Ghost fire. If he is not, then he needs to consider firing his Advisers on Celebrations and Festivity Planning. Did they consider the current price of a single cow and how many will be required for the event? I am not sure they took cognisance of the price of a bag of rice, because as Mr. President knows, we still import that very important staple of our national diet.

Non-stop music must fill the air- from ever-green highlife by Victor Uwaifo, afro-pop by Sunny Neji and contemporary vocal mumbo jumbo by the likes of Wizkid, Olamide and a host of others. If Buhari needs tips on this selection, he should contact his predecessor. Oga Jona knows how to spice a party with a blend of hot and reigning Nigerian music stars. But that too, like every other item on the agenda, costs money.

This is why I like Oga Jonathan. That Ijaw man knows how to throw a big party- Nigerian style. At one time, he set aside #10billion for the same Independence Anniversary celebration (although we can't say how much was actually spent on the event).There was enough to eat and drink- although ordinary Nigerians like you and I were not invited- we managed to see it on television, but we drooled and "vibed" along. We could feel that something was happening.

I know some of you would want to say that money is enough to build five standard universities in Nigeria (if honestly managed) to take care of the annual rush and over crowdedness of our universities. My friend, there is time for everything. Oga Jona simply knew how to jollificate when it was time for jollification. We did wake up the next day to realise that our problems had not gone with the razzmatazz.

The President, through his SGF, had said that this year's celebration is in consonance with the cost-saving policy directive of his administration. The government may be broke but Nigeria is not. This country boasts of Aliko Dangote, richest man in Africa and Madam Alakija, richest black woman on Planet Earth. There are so many other Nigerians who would gladly bankroll the independence anniversary without blinking an eyelid- and I am talking about nine figures.

President Buhari should realise that there is a difference between prudence and frugality. We refuse to make do with the monthly earnings of just a few Nigerian Senators as budget for our Independence Day celebration. We refuse to believe that is all Nigeria can afford. We, the Owambe-loving Nigerians demand a review of the budget until it befits our status and accommodates enough jollification for us to dance and forget our problems.

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