What $20 Billion Can Buy You, By Aisha Oyebode

In the course of discussion last night, it suddenly occurred to me that I just couldn’t comprehend what $20bn could possibly buy. It began with my mother saying that is Two Thousand Million USD. Incomprehensible?

Now if I can’t comprehend, I am sure there are many out there like me who can’t either, hence perhaps the challenge with feeling enough outrage. So I went shopping on the internet. I bought things that I could find prices for. Some not so useful like 4 GSM licenses but just to get a sense of how staggering the amount is, my shopping is as follows;

What 20billion can buy


Too many to carry, I agree, how about:

1 1 Heathrow Terminal 5 $7,500,000,000 ($7.5bn) Commissioned March 2008 and cost 4.3bn pounds and described with pride  by her majesty as “a 21st Century gateway to Britain” .. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk/7294618.stm
2 1 Petroleum Refinery $9,000,000,000($9bn) www.ft.com › reports‎ Aliko Dangote builds up manufacturing with $9bn Nigeria refinery Oct 10, 2013
3 5 7 Star Hotel $3,000,000,000($3bn) Burj Al Arab  cost $600m http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burj_Al_Arab
    Grand Total  $19,500,000,000(19.5bn)  

I am not a mathematician and my calculator kept running out of zeros, but I think quite accurate. Have a great day!

*Ms. Aisha Oyebode, the Chief Executive Officer at the Murtala Mohammed Foundation, originally published this contribution to the civil society engagement discussion forum. It is published here with the author’s permission.


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  • akpos

    What will they do with all dt money stolen for
    God’s sake. ? They can’t finish it until they die

  • concernednigerian

    Ms Aisha, did you lose 20 billion Naira? When and to whom? There is a difference between facts and rumours. Those who can read and write should run away with facts instead of the other. The last time I checked Nigeria is totally reliant on oil revenue. How come we do not hear a lot of noise from the South-South? Could it be that they want the facts to be established first before roaring to high heavens. In that case we shall do well to emulate them.

    • Lawal Jibrin

      Concernednigerian, is the issue of corruption in Nigeria, a case between the South-South and the rest of the country now?. What a pity. And for your information the missing money (a fact not rumours) is $20b and not N20b.

      • concernednigerian

        It is not. Except that some of us call for people’s heads without establishing the veracity of the allegations being made against them. Is it a certainty that $20 billion of oil revenue went missing? Like the people of the South-South, I will only shout at my top-most voice in condemnation when the facts of the allegation have been established.

        • Lawal Jibrin

          So why not simply argue the lack of veracity of the allegation of the missing money without regionalizing the issue. In her banter, I have not noticed where Aisha Oyebode made any reference to any part of Nigeria…or are we missing something here Mr. concernednigerian???

          • concernednigerian

            Was it necessary for Aisha to dwell on the $20 billion allegation?

          • Lawal Jibrin

            Why are you so obsessed with Aisha’s banter? It is just a joke. We have seen many caricature cartoons of our heads of State in the past. I remember the cartoons of Shagari with his 7 storey Hausa cap, Babangida with a wide gate in between his front teeth, Abacha with an Indian woman feeding him with a poisoned apple and Obasanjo with thick lips and fountain looking nostrils…In all these cases we laughed and made jokes and no more. Why is Aisha’s joke on the $20b a bother to you? Or like I said earlier…are we missing something here???

          • concernednigerian

            I have no doubt, my brother Lawal, that you see it as a joke. Others see it as yet another weapon to beat a President they have never liked since the inception of his administration. Not because others before him were better but that he had no business being there. Therefore every spurious allegation becomes an issue to spin beyond recognition.

          • Lawal Jibrin

            Relax my brother (or is it a sister?). I assure you there are millions of people outside the South-South who supported and are still supporting the President. By regionalizing the issue you might be alienating this support. So why not enjoy Aisha’s banter and let destiny take its course?. Cheers.

        • Omo Odua

          What of the person they suspend without veracity? They said he is still under investigation! But suspend him

          • concernednigerian

            That was why he was suspended and not sacked. Perhaps prosecution is on the cards whereby he would be free to establish his innocence or otherwise.

  • nija pikin

    Its time for revolution violent one for that matter i e Ukraine elections should be suspended until after the revolution, terms of reference should be only against civil servants and political class

  • Tiger

    You missed out the reconstruction of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway which is ‘just’ about 1billion dollars.

  • Kehinde Hussain

    You are all crazy.how can the people in Nigeria condone these thieves, to get away with billions missing within the system.
    People globally are fighting for their rights but stupid us, we are still waiting for God to help us.God already does but its left to us to fight this endemic disease.If you raise up your hands as a child, your mama will help and if you don’t, your mama would think you are ok.so, protest against these people will make a positive response otherwise revolution may be the final solution.
    Let’s take action and root these people out.they are only less than 3000 of them making us suffer in a population of 160million.
    Come on people, we will out number them.
    Remember Bob marley ” he who fight and run away shall run away all the time”.action is the only way out not pen pushing and big big grammar in the paper will crush them but confrontation.
    These people already bought our medias with our stolen money, to stop them from publicity.
    If you dont go out and demonstrate, nothing will change and the worst is to expect the unions to give orders. No, they can’t, they only do when they are short of pennies in their pockets .
    Arise people, dont let them hold you down because revolution is the only answer.you can speak big english in the national paper but that won’t fill your stomachs.
    Remember middle east uprising and recent Ukraine crisis, thats what am talking about otherwise no wrstern or eastern will help you because they benefits from our falls.

  • Danjuma


    Election fund and building bank balance in case Nigeria fails?