Saturday 30 October 2021



I was thinking this morning..... about the Benjamins. No, I am not talking about the Benji you know. I was having a casual conversation with a fellow Waffarian days ago about how tough it has become for breadwinners to meet their obligations and how it is now imperative to do everything legally possible to earn more money. As we wrapped up, my friend said 'It's all about the Benjamins' like they say in Warri.' 'Who are the Bejamins?' I asked ignorantly. He giggled and said 'it means it's all about the money.'

Warri! Warri!! Warri!!! I hailed. When I got home, I consulted Google to understand the origin of the phrase. I found out that 'It’s all about the Benjamins' is an american expression which means “it’s all about money” coined from the portrait of Benjamin Franklin seen on the $100 bill, the highest US currency denomination.

But why would waffi people be using an expression that is based on the US dollar? Why can't they rather say 'it's all about Mai-Bornu and Isong,' whose faces are on the highest denomination of Nigeria currency, the N1000 note? While Mallam Aliyu Mai-Bornu was the first indigenous governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Clement Isong was his successor. I was almost given to the idea of 'It's all about Mai-Bornu and Isong' but when I remembered that $1 is worth over N550, I aligned with my waffi brothers that 'It’s all about the Benjamins.'

I still had doubts whether we should not change the narrative to being about Mai-Bornu and Isong when I ran into a former colleague. When I asked how he was doing at work, he responded that he resigned. 'Why on earth would you do that?' I asked in disbelief. He smiled and told me that he got a new job where he is being paid in dollars. In the voice of my mum, I could hear myself saying 'Obajor' translated  'no wonder' in Itsekiri. Would you blame him for abandoning Mai-Bornu and Isong for the Benjamins? $10k monthly salary amounts to almost N6m per month. Where in Naija will you earn N6m per month? Truly, it's all about the Benjamins.

Yesterday at the NLNG sponsored Nigeria Prize for Literature, when Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia novel 'The Son of the House' was announced as winner, her joy knew no bound. She was happy with the prestige the award brings but when I looked at her face when the dummy cheque of $100,000 was presented to her, I knew 'It's all about the Benjamins.'

In Nigeria of today, it's a major challenge to stack up 'Mai-Bornu and Isong' and even more so the Benjamins. But Deuteronomy 33:12 says 'About Benjamin he said: “Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him.' It is on this basis that I am confident that it doesn’t matter what I am up against, God no go shame me because I am resting secured in Him and not on the Benjamins.

Stay hopeful. God's got your back.

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey

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