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Reuben Abati: Leave Matter for Mathias



Reuben Abati - December 2013 - BellaNaija“I saw something yesterday. I thought it was a joke.”
“What happened?”
“Nigerians and their sense of humour; we always manage to squeeze laughter out of every situation, no matter how sad.”
“I don’t like the suspense. What is it?”
“I attended a wedding engagement ceremony.”
“When the groom’s family was presenting gifts to the bride’s family, do you know what they did?”
“I am with you”
“They suddenly brought out two 50-litre jerry cans of fuel, which they presented to the bride’s father, with a declaration that they don’t want their in-law to go through any stress during this season of fuel scarcity”
“Correct in-laws!”
“We all burst into laughter. Even the bride’s father was almost sprawling on the floor with laughter. He quickly gave his daughter’s hand in marriage.”
“Trust Nigerians.”
“It turned out that the bridegroom’s father owns a petrol station. Talk of using what you have to get what you want.”
“Free fuel for life. No more fuel scarcity in that family. The bride chose well. In this type of country, you have to marry wisely.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Must people choose husbands because of fuel, something that should be taken for granted?
“Dey there. This fuel crisis is so serious at least two universities have had to shut down and send the students home.”
“I read the statement by the University of Lagos authorities. The university had to be closed due to the collapse of municipal services. No fuel. No light, and the students had become riotous.”
“That must be the first time in the entire world that a university would have to close down because there is no fuel in the country. Terrible indictment.”
“Well, that’s Nigeria for you. But I expect the students to show understanding. It is not the fault of the university authorities.”
“Hardship is difficult to understand. Many of the students had to trek from the campus to their various homes.”
“They should not complain, please. It is called Trekking for Sai Baba. After the election last year, didn’t many of them trek for Sai Baba? They certainly didn’t know that was just a technical rehearsal and that serious trekking will soon come. Anybody wey no get fuel, make e trek.”
“I hear some people are even planning Occupy Nigeria protests.”
“Because of fuel scarcity?”
“Because a litre of fuel is now about N350 per litre.”
“They better don’t get themselves shot. Hen hen. If they think it is that kind of Occupy Nigeria that they tried with GEJ, let them go and try their luck this time around. You better tell that your stubborn brother not to go to Ojota to occupy anything oh, I don’t want to write a condolence message. What we need is not protests. That won’t bring fuel. What we need is a different kind of citizen action.”
“Which is?”
“The truth is that some people are sabotaging Nigerians. Independent marketers are hoarding fuel deliberately, so they can sell at a premium. And many of them are sadists. Even when they have fuel, have you not noticed that they usually sell from one pump? What stops them from selling from three or four pumps at the same time? But apparently, seeing a long queue, and people in agony makes some of them happy.”
“I even understand that some fuel station managers tell the pump attendants that they must deliver N50, 000 to them daily. That’s why when you buy fuel in many of these stations, the attendant tells you upfront that you will have to drop something.”
“And at the end, you don’t even get what you buy in full measure, because the meters have been tampered with.”
“Nigerians are their own problem. We like to inconvenience one another and yet we blame government all the time.”
“The people are the government. The ones in public office punish the people; those outside inflict pain on each other. We are all guilty as members of a large community of sadists.”
“So, have you started your fuel business? The NNPC Mega Station of jerry cans of fuel that you talked about.”
“I am still on it”
“You plan to start when fuel scarcity ends?”
“You think this thing will ever end? Look, do you know that it is actually a good business. I went to visit a friend the other day, and I told him I didn’t have fuel. He just made a phone call. Before I knew it, somebody brought fuel in two big jerry cans.”
“Home delivery?”
“Yes. People are now doing home delivery of fuel as if they are delivering Pizza. N500 per litre. Some people collude with fuel station managers. They store fuel in jerry cans and they do home delivery if you are willing to pay. I saw it with my two eyes.”
“By the time this fuel scarcity is over, some people will become billionaires. In my own case, when I was looking for fuel, my driver took me to a house where the gateman spoke to the landlord and they brought out fuel. It was as if I was in another world. A small-scale business has developed around this fuel scarcity crisis, and while you and I are wailing, some people are hailing the change that has come.”
“All the people profiting from the people’s agony should be reported, arrested and publicly shamed as saboteurs.”
“That doesn’t require citizen action.”
“But the people must report sharp practices at fuel stations, and the illegal conversion of private homes to fuel dumps!”
“Who should they report to?”
“The Police. The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).”
“To do what?”
“To check meters at fuel stations, to arrest marketers who are punishing the people and making government look bad. There is a Weights and Measures law in this country for Heaven’s sake.”
“Police. DPR. You will just create another layer of fraud. You’d be surprised the officials that should enforce the law, will be bribed with fuel and cash.”
“Then such officials should also be reported.”
“I beg. Leave that matter for Matthias. The last time I slept at a fuel station, I saw uniformed men asking for officer’s price.”
“Officer’s price, how?”
“Exactly what it says. Three guys came to the station. They flashed their identity cards or well, what looked like identity cards, and they said Oga sent them to buy fuel, and they wanted officer’s price.”
“Meaning they would not pay up to N200 or N350 per litre.”
“And the manager agreed?”
“Would he not agree? We were all there gawking as the officers loaded about twelve jerry cans into their vehicle and left the rest of us there.”
“And nobody protested?”
“Protest? Have you not heard about people who have been killed at fuel stations by officers?”
“The martyrs of fuel scarcity! I hope NNPC will remember to send condolence messages to the affected families.”
“Na NNPC kill them?”
“No be NNPC kill them?”
“Na NNPC pull the trigger? Small time now, you’d say NNPC also killed the man and his two children who stored fuel in their room and got engulfed in a fire accident.”
“No be NNPC kill them?”
“But what happened to the promised April 7?”
“Did I not tell you nothing will happen on April 7, and that it was wrong to put a date to the end of fuel scarcity.”
“Next month, then.”
“Or the month after.”
“Don’t be pessimistic.”
“Okay, until the right steps are taken.”
“Like succumbing to the blackmail of fuel importers?”
“No. Like throwing anybody who tries to sabotage Nigeria behind bars, be they pipeline vandals or greedy fuel importers looking for free cash, waivers and patronage.”
“I hear you. But for government to work, you must still allow some people small space to enjoy government.”
“Sorry. Nation-building is not about enjoying government. It is about service.”
“I hear you.”
“That’s why government officials have now been told that they cannot travel First Class.”
“I am not really sure anybody travels First Class in government.”
“Are you sure?”
“I think the highest level is business class.”
“Well, whatever. But really, the rule should be that every government official must travel Economy, if the ticket has to be paid for by government. Economy. And if you want to travel Upper Deck class, you pay from your pocket.”
“Yes, economy.”
“That will amount to punishment. Even poor me, I don’t like economy. People yawn, snore, and open their mouths in your face, they talk too much, and some people in economy class are so crude, they actually fart and pollute the air.”
“But the plane will get to the same destination and everybody will come down and go their way.”
“We are talking comfort here.”
“If it is your money, no problem. But even when it is your money, I am always angry when I see people putting their children, babies that are under 10, in Business Class and First Class. Nigerians like to waste money. Some of those children will grow up and may never in their lives be able to travel so richly, so what happens to them?”
“You don’t have to curse other people’s children. One of the rules of capitalism is the freedom to make your money and spend it as you wish.”
“Some government officials spend government money to take their wives and children abroad and they put them in Business Class.”
“Such people should be sanctioned. But you know, everything failed long ago in the public sector.”
“I know. We all know.”
“And to save Nigeria is not an easy task.”
“I know. I know. But that does not mean some people should sleep on the job.”
“Like who and who?”
“All I know is that some Ministers are not just asleep, some of them are even snoring.”
“There is no budget yet”
“And that calls for snoring?”
“Okay, name up to ten Ministers in Abuja.”
“Why should I know their names? Do they know me?”
“You see?”
“You know?”
“That’s right?”
“When you are given a job, you do it. You have to be seen to be doing the job. Going to Abuja to sleep and snore on the job? That is not service. That is disloyalty.”
“I have an idea. For a Minister to function, he or she needs to be empowered. Empowerment. Very important.”
“I beg. Leave matter for Matthias.”
“I think you just picked up that slang. Everything Matthias. That was how one Matthias spoke roughly at a fuel station and he earned a swollen face for his effrontery. You better watch your mouth.”
“Leave matter for Matthias. Let’s discuss something else.”


  1. liz

    April 10, 2016 at 5:36 am

    It sounds funny but as a Country we are failing, our leaders are failing us because we always have this moving on spirit. We shall get it right someday I believe…..

  2. Sochi

    April 10, 2016 at 6:04 am

    Hahaha. Very interesting write-up.Something has to be done on a more serious note. Sai baba and his cabinet need to be cautioned, threatened, begged or warned seriously to find a solution to the current state of the nation asap or be replaced.

  3. Tosin

    April 10, 2016 at 6:57 am

    This is true stuff.

  4. Zandyzay

    April 10, 2016 at 8:57 am

    What did he do with his opportunity when he had it if he knows these much?

    • Puzzles

      April 10, 2016 at 11:04 am

      Are you not tired of asking this question?

    • Iris

      April 10, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      I have been waiting for someone to ask this question since this man began his spree of write-ups. Before GEJ he was talking. After GEJ he is talking. He is talking as if Nigeria was a utopia and then President Ajalahtravel came and dried up foreign reserves, vandalised all pipelines, took back the payment from petroleum suppliers and sat on the price of oil until it nosedived. Gerrarrahere. I can never take him seriously again.

  5. meelikey

    April 10, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    Ha ha ha……dont I just love Mr Abati

  6. Tolu

    April 10, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    So my pastor got me angry today in church as he has always been doing and maybe like your pastor too by saying ” even if fuel price is 1k he can still buy it cus God has provided for us to still afford it”. Maybe he said this probably out of pride or the I’m richer than you syndrome that has brought this country to her kneels. The saddest part of this is that people scream with excitement like slaves. I must confess to you that my pastor is as insensitive to the situation of his church as the politicians are insensitive to the masses and maybe yours too is like that thou.

    • Omolola

      April 10, 2016 at 5:51 pm

      Maybe you misunderstood him? Or he was talking in faith?! Psalms 37:19 ” They will not be disgraced in hard times;even in famine they will have more than enough”. Me I love to hold on to this regardless of my circumstance…….

  7. Gerrard59

    April 10, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    Nigerians voted change and change they got. They shouldn’t complain.
    Next time they hear change, you’ll ask, what kind of change?

    Had it been Goodluck Jonathan was allowed to fully remove the fuel subsidy, all these wouldn’t be happening.

  8. A'lizle

    April 10, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Lolsss, nicely written jaree…Zandyzay leave matter for matthias. forget about the past, let those there now promote the change they proclaimed

  9. Deejay

    April 10, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    I have always been an ardent reader and lover of Mr Abati’s write-ups because he was a strong critic of government actions. In actual fact, fuel scarcity has been with us since 1900 it is not this government of change that brought it. When he took appointment with the GEJ government and since they all left, I have not been able to make any serious sense out of his articles again. My question is when he was with GEJ, what action did they take to ensure that the petroleum industry gets better than when they met it. All his master did was to squander all our resources in the name of fuel susbsidy and made a few people richer to the detriment of the Nigerians. Gave Diezani a free hand to do whatever she liked at NNPC. Methinks this government of change that he is busy criticizing now is in the right path. The truth is, no pain no gain. Nigerians let us have some patience I am very optimistic that things will get better for us shortly. If proper investigation is made I hope Mr Abati was not part of the beneficiaries of the fuel subsidy scam because you cannot trust anybody now. Gbogbo nkan ti e nse ni ikoko kedere ni loju Olorun. Mr Abati go and take back seat some of us have lost respect for you (yimu). Shior

  10. Kanilai Jarju

    April 11, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    Change always comes with positive/negative situations ,we improve on the positive ones and whilst strive to overturn the tables on the negative ones.With due respect if Mr Abati and his crew left something in the coffers ,i am sure the present administration would have settled by now,but for Abati to all of a sudden become a star writer,he needs to check himself and the administration that has just been removed by the people,if a finger is pointing to others,three are pointing at you the very pointer,so thanks for your literature but ask your self what did the present administration inherit from the immediate past administration?

  11. ekywrites

    April 11, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    You guys are still on this level………the corruption happening in our own personal lives nko?

    are we not the ones (i dont mean you o) bribing our way at gas stations..
    arent we getting people to write jamb for our kids..or buying expo that a government thing too..
    are we not the ones falsifying our age..
    are we not deceiving people in ordinary boy/girl friend relationship…is that change…
    Are we not specially recognizing and “gifting” the teachers in our children’s schools?
    Are we not the ones “dashing”money to latsma or the police when our vehicle papers are incomplete..
    Are we not the ones calling on PHCN officials to illegally reconnect our lines..
    I even hear people have a way of bypassing DSTV and running “free to air stations””. ok o
    Do we not shunt simple queues.. and gist about our sharpness?
    when last did you come out on sanitation Saturday to clean up…o, you hired people to do it in your estate..when last did everyone pay estate dues…. #smartness..

    What has to change is our value system..
    not the government. …………………….change is not the certainly isn’t Buhari.. …….change begins with me and you.
    Before you eat me up, remember its #myopinion


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