I do not know how to feel about this. President Goodluck Jonathan is being suggested for the Mo Ibrahim prize for achievement in African leadership, for his singular act of placing a phone call to General Buhari. Knowing how many times I have tried to call President Jonathan, Mo Ibrahim should think of a concession prize. A Mo Ibrahim prize for perseverance, for those whose many phone calls go unanswered. But that is not what this article is about. It is not about me. Because I was raised well, I will rejoice with the president when he wins the 5 million dollar cash prize. However, I think that he must share that money with a few people who all contributed to this almost-award-winning phone call. Permit me to explain why, how and with whom this money must be shared.
1. General Buhari
The first person who should receive a part of Goodluck’s 5 million is General Buhari. For picking up the phone. It would not have been a phone call if the other party did not participate. Buhari could have been in the loo, or had his phone on silent when Jonathan called. Buhari could have lost his voice due to wild celebration. Imagine that. Say Goodluck called and Buhari’s voice was half gone, and Goodluck couldn't hear what he was saying. That could have been construed as aggression and Goodluck might have changed his mind about conceding and activated his people to subvert the entire process. Imagine if like David Umar of Niger State who refused to pick all seven of Governor Babangida Aliyu’s congratulatory phone calls, Buhari did not pick when Goodluck Jonathan called. Buhari must get at least one million for taking that call and for speaking clearly.
2. Power Holding Company or Nigeria(PHCN)/ Chinese manufacturers of mobile power banks/ Importers of generators
Imagine there was no electricity leading up to the elections. You can say, well, we could have used generators. So, imagine there were no generators. And imagine that even if there were no generators, Chinese people had not flooded this country with mobile power banks for charging handheld devices. There would have been no phone call and Buhari might have gotten angry on one side and Goodluck angry on the other and who knows, we might have been at war now. PHCN, the Chinese, and importers of generators need at least 200,000 dollars each.
3. Telecoms providers
Now, imagine everything was right: Buhari had his voice, had his ringer on and phone charged, there were generators and power banks just in case, and there was electricity. Then imagine that in spite of all of this, the telecoms provider that Jonathan or Buhari was using went off. No network. And imagine that the telecoms provider gave that wrong message of a phone being switched off or being out of network coverage. Especially that “out of network coverage” one. Jonathan might have thought that Buhari had fled the country or was maybe in Libya or something. It would have made Goodluck declare a state of emergency or give an ill-advised speech about Buhari running away and how this implied defeat. Then Buhari would have done his own speech and, boom! We would have been at war. Whatever telecoms provider Goodluck and Buhari use, they each deserve like 500,000 of Mo Ibrahim’s dollars.
4. The person who gave Buhari’s phone number to Goodluck Jonathan
Imagine if he or she had gotten the number wrong and Goodluck called the wrong person. Imagine if, by coincidence, the person Goodluck called was a northern sounding person, who could have been construed to be Buhari, and the man said, “This is not General Buhari.” Or worse, if the man just started speaking Hausa, unable to understand what Goodluck was saying. Goodluck would have panicked and thought that already, before even being sworn in, Buhari had already begun trying to northernize the country. Goodluck would have thought that perhaps if Buhari was sworn in, he would change our lingua franca to Hausa and force all Nigerians to use it or be flogged or jailed. And this would have made him call in the service chiefs and declare a state of emergency. That would in turn have triggered violence across the country. CNN would have had a great time reporting from yet another conflict zone, emphasizing that as predicted, Nigeria was incapable of transferring power between civilians and had descended into chaos. Their reporters would have unpacked their helmets and blue bullet proof vests with “PRESS” written in white. CNN would have been hailed for their great reporting of the mayhem and killings and perhaps even gotten awards for brave journalism. We must thank the person who gave Buhari’s phone number to Goodluck Jonathan for getting that 11-digit number right and give him at least 500,000 dollars. Because a lot can go wrong in 11 digits.
I hope that Jonathan can wisely invest the remaining 1.9 million dollars that will remain after this distribution. A lot of good can be done with 1.9 million dollars.