Welcome to this special edition of the Tonight Show. Two weeks ago, I went to Nigeria on an official visit. The night before I left for the United States, I decided to enjoy a quiet time in my Eko Hotel & Suites room. I was sipping a glass of Dansa orange juice when Basketmouth flashed me. I called him back. He asked me to come down to the ballroom and enjoy ‘An Evening of Excellence’. I declined.
“I was already having an evening of excellence,” I said.
“Not if you look out of the window,” he said.
Looking outside the window, I saw Nollywood actors Bob-Manuel Udokwu and Jennifer Eliogu on the red carpet welcoming guests. I saw beautiful people who were dressed to impress, leisurely walking on the red carpet. Each click of the camera from the Press widened their smiles. It was the Sun newspaper’s annual Man of the Year 2010 Award, I was told. The two award recipients, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Governor Danjuma Goje of Gombe State made their entrance with unusual swagger. Basketmouth flashed me again. When I called him, he said Ghenga Adeyinka, the Comedian of the Federal Republic, would entertain the guests.
“Coming?” He asked.
I still said no. Not even the music of Dan Maraya Jos that was filtering into my room made me change my mind.
Then one hour later, just before I put on my pajamas, I looked out of the window again. I saw a heavy set woman carrying three placards a few meters from the red carpet. Two policemen stood beside her as if their aim was to stop her from advancing towards the red carpet. I could not read what was written on the placards from my bedroom on the 10th floor. The movements of her mouth told me that she was yelling. I opened my hotel window to listen to her. She was raining curses on Aliko Dangote. “You’re no Man of the Year,” she screamed. “You’re the Fraud of the Year.” Her voice was hoarse. I could not make everything she was saying. I put on my jacket and went downstairs.
At the hotel entrance, I walked up to her. Lo and behold, it was Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke. Her pant suit was ruffled at the knee area. The armpit areas of her white shirt were dripping with sweat. The mascara on her face had been dissolved by a combination of sweat and tears. I spoke to the two police men and convinced them to hand her over to me. I promised the officers that she would not cause anymore problems. To demonstrate our commitment, she dumped her placards in a trashcan and followed me into the hotel lobby. Inside, we settled down at one quiet corner and began to chat. I must apologize for the quality of this video. It was shot with a flip camera.
Dr. Damages: Welcome to the show.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: My brother, thank you for having me. Can you believe that the whole media in Nigeria has shut me out? People I used to give transport money will not listen to my own side of the story.
Dr. Damages: First of all, I did not know I was your brother.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: Yes. We are from the same state.
Dr. Damages: Really?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: Yeah.
Dr. Damages: And what state is that?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: Anambra state.
Dr. Damages: The only way I know people from Anambra state is by looking at my list of people who spoke out when Andy Uba and his gang were burning down government properties at Awka.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: Oh. I’m from your state gan-gan.
Dr. Damages: So you were amongst the silent ones? You stood by as abomination was taking place.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: I won’t put it that way.
Dr. Damages: How will you put it? Oh, I know. Do you prefer that I say that ‘the hottest place in hell is reserved for people’ like you ‘who in times of great moral crisis choose to be silent’? Is that better?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: My brother, it’s not that simple.
Dr. Damages: Let me break it down for you. You did not want to upset Obasanjo by saying to him that what his domestic aide was doing was wrong? I understand that Andy Uba spent most of his time with Obasanjo giving the old man ritual baths? Wasn’t it?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: There wasn’t much I could do?
Dr. Damages: You could have said something? You could have resigned in protest.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: Resign?
Dr. Damages: Yeah! People who have conscience do things like that. In any case, it was better than the alternative which was to be booted out of the Nigerian Stock Exchange like a criminal.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: Let us just say that I was not a politician. I was just the director of the NSE. So I decided not to get involved.
Dr. Damages: Remind me again. How many billions did you raise for Obasanjo’s reelection in 2003?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: That one was different.
Dr. Damages: Ok, Whatever happened to the 100 million naira you raised for Obama’s 2008 campaign?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: I really want to talk about the treatment meted out to me at the NSE by the cabal that is now poised to take over Nigeria’s economy.
Dr. Damages: Is this cabal different from the one you headed for many years? The one you called Corporate Nigeria?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: Please hear me out. I was removed because I was the only obstacle to this man’s goal of taking over the Nigerian economy. I want to warn Nigerians about the dangers of allowing one man to take over the economy of a whole country.
Dr. Damages: You mean Aliko Dangote?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: Yes. He is a very dangerous man. I want Nigerians to ask why they were in a hurry to remove me especially when I had volunteered to retire on Nov, 2nd 2010? I will tell you why. Immediately I was overthrown, they allowed Dangote Cement, an unquoted company, to merge with Benue Cement Company. Something that is unheard of. And with that merger, that man now has 51% of Nigeria’s total market capitalization. No serious government anywhere in the world will leave its economy in the hands of one man. It is very dangerous. That man is very dangerous.
Dr. Damages: When did he become dangerous? Was it while your Transcorp was buying up all of Nigeria’s assets at give-away prices or now that you have been schemed out of Corporate Nigeria?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: Please listen to me. Ms. Arumah Oteh of the SEC is pushing the agenda of Dangote’s cabal. They allowed Afri Investment Limited, the financial adviser to both companies, to also act as the stockbroker of Dangote Cement. That’s not done anywhere in the world. Transparency is gone. Fraud and unethical behaviors are now the norm.
Dr. Damages: How is that different from your suspension of trade on Transcorp stocks as soon as Yar’Adua revoked the sale of NITEL? NITEL, which by the way, a foreign company wanted to buy for $1.3 billion and which you got for $750 million.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: Listen now! Just listen first. We will get to all that later. You see, the Federal government lost N25 billion in the Dangote Cement merger with Benue Cement. Dangote pocketed N20 billion which he paid into his personal account because the tactic, Offer for Sale, was used. And still, the NSE gave him a 90% discount. So instead of paying the NSE 2.4 billion naira as fees, he paid only 400 million naira. It stinks to high heaven. There was no diligence in the deal. Nigerians will regret what is going on today.
Dr. Damages: Is that it?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: All I’m saying is that Nigeria’s market has been hijacked. Investors are in trouble.
Dr. Damages: … and of course, your hands are clean.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: Yes. I worked hard for what I have.
Dr. Damages: Have or had?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: I really did. I brought real value to Nigerians. I tripled the market capitalization in my years at the NSE. For crying out loud, it was 12.6 trillion naira in 2008.
Dr. Damages: I know. You were hired in January of 1983 at N11, 400 a year. By February 2005, you were making over N25,000,000 a year.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: I tripled the value of the Nigerian stock market.
Dr. Damages: Of course. I understand that when you got into trouble you ran to your mentor, Obasanjo. He asked you to resign but you refused. You were busy scheming how to get your boy, Kene Okafor, to replace you.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: It was all politics, my brother. I had a succession plan. They just wanted to squeeze your sister out.
Dr. Damages: Eeyah? Poor you!
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: It’s horrible what they did to me, my brother. It’s unconscionable.
Dr. Damages: I know. The chicken has come home to roost. How dare it?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: My brother, help me tell my story. The man is going about boasting that no newspaper in Nigeria will publish my side of the story.
Dr. Damages: Talking about being your brother, have I not met you at several World Igbo Congress conventions?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: I don’t go to parapo meetings.
Dr. Damages: Oh, I see.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: But I can start going if that will help.
Dr. Damages: Noooo!
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: You want to know the truth; I’m really from Bonny, in Rivers state. I only married a man from Nimo.
Dr. Damages: Yes. So how come the people of Okpala Eziama contributed money to send your father to London where he studied law?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: I don’t want to go into that.
Dr. Damages: You are a child of privilege. You were born in Sussex, England. I want to know what you have given back. While you were at the top of Corporate Nigeria, you raised a lot of money for Obasanjo’s library, Obasanjo’s third term project, Obasanjo’s reelection, Obasanjo’s knickers, and even Obama’s election. What have you done for your father’s people?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: I don’t blow my own horn.
Dr. Damages: Your father represented that fictional Eze of the Eze Goes To School fame. So, Eze goes to school and then what?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: What do you mean ‘…and then what’?
Dr. Damages: What followed? What is the fate of the people who sent him to school?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: I followed.
Dr. Damages: And?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: I got a PhD. I also got the OON, Order of the Niger.
Dr. Damages: You made the honor list under Imo State.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: I don’t know where you’re going with this line of questioning. I want to return to the issue at hand.
Dr. Damages: Ok. Forget it. I think I know the best revenge available to you against these people who obviously hurt you so much.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: What is it?
Dr. Damages: You should write your memoirs?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: Really?
Dr. Damages: Yes.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: But I’m not a writer.
Dr. Damages: I can help you.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: Really? When do we start? I have to put on my Sunday best.
Dr. Damages: That will be a problem.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: Why?
Dr. Damages: I will help you under one condition.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: What is that?
Dr. Damages: You must tell Nigerians where the bodies are buried.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: Over my dead body.
Dr. Damages: Well, what if you’re already a walking dead woman?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: What does that mean?
Dr. Damages: If I have to explain that to you, you may have to return your PhD diploma.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: My brother, they used over 150 MOPOL, kill-and-go police men, to come and remove one woman. Why is that?
Dr. Damages: I don’t know? Maybe they were afraid that Nicholas Okoye was in your office ready to defend you, by any means necessary?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: Nickolas who?
Dr. Damages: Your friend.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: What friend?
Dr. Damages: Your … whatchamacallit?
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: I don’t know who you’re talking about. He was only a colleague.
Dr. Damages: Of course.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke: I mean it. Don’t start another rumor.
(The door to the ballroom swings open. Aliko Dangote walks into the lobby. He is heading towards the bathroom that is few yards from us. Without warning, Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke springs up from her seat. She blocks Dangote’s path to the bathroom.)
Dr. Damages: What followed next was a smack down between Aliko Dangote and Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke. We will play that part in the next edition of the show. Until then, from Eko Hotel & Suites, I say, goodnight.
… to be continued.