• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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BusinessDay

Palava: Send the bill to KPMG

Nigeria’s box office generated N278m in February

Right now the crowd puller on Broadway, New York, is a show at the Appollo Theatre with the title, ‘Send the Bill to KPMG’. The iconic theatre was originally billed to host the legendary Bill Cosby live but owing to allegations of sexual harassment/rape against him by a series of women, the show was cancelled leaving the theatre with a vacancy that had to be filled at short notice.

That was how the Senior Elder Citizens (ex-partners of KPMG who are still waiting to collect their gratuity and pensions) decided to take the chance of a lifetime. They pooled resources (their entire savings) and launched the show with the title ‘Palava’ with barely any rehearsals. The basic theme is that the ubiquitous partners, rather than surrender to despair and penury, have chosen to stop paying any bills. Instead, they insist that henceforth all their bills should be sent to KPMG for payment.

Word soon spread like wildfire. The show has become an instant hit with long queues stretching all of six blocks. Each night before the curtain is drawn the audience participates vigorously in singing the theme song: “Palava! We have given the best years of our lives, now is payback time.”

For some strange reason, many of those who have seen the show insist that it not just a play or opera – it is a therapeutic experience with magical healing powers. Bye-bye to arthritis, migraine, diabetes, esophagitis, glaucoma, etc. Indeed, it is a most unconventional show which has pushed originality and creativity to their uttermost limits. Instead of the orthodox interval, what you have is “stoppage time” during which the ghosts of Nelson Mandela and Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. descend on the ex-KPMG retired partners and exhort them to make the most of the stoppage/extra time the Good Lord has magnanimously granted them – and just have fun but be prayerful.

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Other highlights of the evening were the totally unexpected cameo appearance of the legendary wizard of Omaha, Nebraska, Warren Buffett, the second richest man in America after Bill Gates of Microsoft, and the former chief executive officer of General Electric, John Francis Welch Jr., who is undoubtedly the most outstanding CEO of his generation – both asking for the scalps of auditors who signed off on the financial statements of several major American banks and financial institutions just before the financial crash of 2008, without any qualifications. Within a matter of a few weeks, several banks crashed. Warren Buffett even wanted the wives/husbands of auditors jailed along with their spouses for monumental negligence – or at the very least their jewellery and property should be seized!

Even more remarkable was the invasion by hordes of sleek lawyers who were offering their services to the ex-partners of KPMG free of charge – they would send their bills to KPMG! The entire audience rose to its feet and delivered a resounding standing ovation when a representative of the secretary-general of the United Nations delivered the following soliloquy:

“It is all about the commercialization of religion. The way churches and mosques (as well as auditors) conduct themselves leaves much to be desired. They have lost their focus within the context of THE PURPOSE OF MAN AND HIS RESPONSIBILITIES IN CREATION. The servants of God, including Jesus, Prophet Mohammed and others who came to the world before now only preached the kingdom of God and not religion. Some people say that Christ gave us the truth. Did Christ talk about Christianity and religion when he was on earth? I want somebody who tells me they are students of the Bible to tell me where Christ spoke about religion. He spoke about His Father. He did not create religion. I will like any ardent Muslim to tell me where Prophet Mohammed spoke about religion. He spoke about the creator.

“We have brought religion into existence and it’s a very simple way to deceive ourselves. I’m going to say very bluntly, religions and various groups of religious activities are nothing but hunger for power and for money. I can assure you that you cannot use money to buy your way into heaven. Nobody has been able to achieve entry into heaven or paradise through commercialization of the word of God. It has never happened and it would not happen.

“Let’s face it, you have to use your own two legs and hands to walk the path of truth, examine it yourself and not anyone else telling you what to do. You came into this earth as an individual and you shall return as an individual. What did Jesus do to the Pharisees and Sadducees in the synagogue? He took a cane and drove them out, that they have turned His Father’s house into a den of robbers. Is that anything different from what we see today? There is no difference. The basic thing is that we have decided to sell our souls to the devil because it’s the easy way out.”

While the actors were savouring the innumerable curtain calls, the entire theatre was thrown into darkness while bright spots of technicolour lights beamed the following “BREAKING NEWS” by Al Jazeera based on the front page headline of Daily Trust newspaper of January 23, 2015: “Idowu-Fearon: Clerics Are Embedded In Nigeria’s Crises”.

As confirmation that the show is not really a play in the conventional sense, the ex-KPMG partners insist that it is meant to be a “Therapeutic Experience” [TE] – to uplift the spirit and replace despair, anguish, rancour and revenge with hope, dignity, respect and “joy de vivre”.

In any case, the play spilled into the streets of Broadway. That was when the real party commenced in full earnest. The true spirit of “New York, New York” took over – a hesitant but spontaneous recovery from deeply mourning the loss of two policemen Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu who were shot by a deranged gunman Ismaaiyl Brinsley while on patrol in their police car.

The boisterous revelling carried on till the morning and those on their way to work were somewhat bemused to receive as free gifts wristbands with the inscription: “Je Suis [I am] KPMG”.

J.K Randle