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Reuben Abati: The Cost of National Depression



Reuben Abati“I hear the World Bank says Nigeria is now the worst place to do business in the entire world.”
“ I don’t believe it.”
“I also hear that of the 15 fastest growing economies in Africa, Nigeria is no longer on the list.”
“ I say I don’t believe that. And stop hearing bad things.”
“We are not even in the top 10 of the World Top 10 oil producers anymore. Yet, we used to be No. 6.”
“ I still don’t believe that.”
“Inflation is now 13.2%, or well may be 12.8%.”
“If you go to the market with N400 to buy pepper, that amount can’t get you enough pepper to fry two eggs.”
“Stop eating eggs. Too much cholesterol is bad for your health.”
“Moody’s has also just downgraded Nigeria in its ratings for end of March 2016.”
“Yes. It is a credit and investment ratings corporation.”
“It is called Moody? What do you expect, then, other than a moody report?”
“Our rating by Standard and Poor’s is also negative.”
“I see. Standard and Poor’s giving a poor rating. So?”
“We are talking serious economics, not word play”
“I hear you”
“Even Fitch says our economy is in the negative.”
“Let them all keep fishing for negative information, I say I don’t believe it”
“And as it is, it looks like Nigerians have adjusted themselves to the reality of paying as much as N200 per litre for fuel?”
“In your village? In our own town, fuel is just N140 per litre.”
“And you think that is okay? At a time the spot price of crude oil is dropping internationally?”
“Stop reading those foreign reports. Stop feeding into the Afro-pessimism narrative.”
“You don’t believe this. You don’t believe that. Everybody is saying a hell-hole has appeared, and you are insisting you don’t believe it.”
“The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics has also reported that foreign investments inflow into Nigeria is down by73.79%, the least in 9 years, and total capital importation has fallen by 89.13%. GDP growth is the lowest in 9 years.”
“Hold on, one second… Now listen to me in Minister Kemi Adeosun’s voice: we are implementing a planned economy here, dum-b-hea-d”
“The kind of phone calls I receive these days. All artisans that I know have been calling me to ask if I have a job for them. The electrician called yesterday to ask if my air conditioners were not giving problems. I said No. He said what of the television sets? I said they were all working. He even asked whether Madam has not complained about any appliance in the kitchen.”
“That is a potential burglar, staking out territory.”
“Shortly after he dropped the phone, the mechanic also called to ask if the car was alright. I said yes. He asked if I was not hearing any unusual sound. I said No.”
“Your mechanic is stalking your car. What is that? Call the police.”
“But don’t you understand? There are no jobs in town.”
“Who is saying so?”
“I am, based on the evidence of my eyes and what I have been hearing.”
“And you have not heard that the Federal Government has launched a plan to create 1, 000 jobs per week by getting people to become masquerade dressers?”
“Yes. Those masquerades that need 100 people to dress them; and another 100 to undress them. If every Nigerian community organizes a masquerade festival every week, all this nonsense about people not having jobs will end. It is the most profound official contribution to this unemployment narrative so far.”
“You just like to trivialize things.”
“How, it is simple economics. Imagine the number of tailors that will also be engaged.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“I am. Your electrician and mechanic will be better off joining the masquerade gang of Nigeria.”
“Who is proposing this?”
“ I don’t mention names, please. It is the idea that matters.”
“But come to think of it, I see some sense. We are actually a nation of masquerades. Masquerades in high and low places; masquerades behaving like ancestors when they are actually mere mortals.”
“It is the day motor jam masquerade that you will know he is a human being. Even the whole economy has become a masquerade.”
“But this thing about festivals.”
“It happened in ancient Rome. The Romans had over 170 festivals in a year. They were a source of unity for the Empire.”
“I don’t think Nigerians are asking for festivals, and an opportunity to dance, they want jobs and money in their pockets.”
“But you know the truth and why I don’t believe all these tales? Foreign investors will never give up on Nigeria. We have the biggest market in the whole of Africa. It is the source of our strength. If you like let a thousand kidnappers strike per day, all the airplanes on the Nigerian route will still be fully booked all year round. At the height of the Boko Haram and the Niger Delta crises, investors still rushed into Nigeria to look for opportunities. What they may be doing now is a kind of siddon look. It will pass.”
“If we sort out the economy.”
“What I know is that we are better than Venezuela.”
“So, Venezuela is now the standard?”
“They have oil, we have oil.”
“But Venezuela is now a failed state, for failing to manage its oil wealth very well. You need like a bag load of money to buy any essential commodity in that country. Is that what you want in Nigeria?”
“God forbid bad thing!”
“I say God forbid bad thing!”
“This is about God?”
“Everything in this country is about God. That is why I agree with people who are now saying that the way forward is to approach God for help. Even the masquerades will offer prayers and speak to God through the ancestors.”
“Well, some people are not going to God. One man in Lekki yesterday, decided to climb an electric pole. He threatened to hug the electric wires and die. He said he would only change his mind if he was given N5 million.”
“Only N5 million, not N45 million?”
“The people called the Fire Service. Fire Service said they should call PHCN. They called PHCN; those ones said call the police. The police came, the Fire Service too, after about six hours. They begged the man but when he didn’t listen, they just went away.”
“The officials left the scene?”
“Yes. Everybody tried to talk to the man. He insisted on N5 million or nothing.”
“Don’t worry, it is the Tee Billz spirit in every Nigerian. So what happened in the end?”
“ I don’t know.”
“The man was not ready to die. He should have jumped straight into the Lagoon instead of climbing an electric pole. And did he tweet and instagram his drama like Tee Billz?”
“Well, I think government should just make it clear that anybody who wants to die should not disturb public peace, they should just go ahead.”
“That’s cruel. I expected the Lagos State government to be pro-active and offer that man some money. May be N1 million, and then rehabilitate him.”
“One ginni? If anybody gave that man money, you’d be surprised by tomorrow morning, you will find half of Lagos on top of electric poles, asking for money. Even me sef, I fit climb pole or hug transformer, but my own no be to die oh, na to collect money.”
“That is it… the strongest sign of the state of the nation. People are just going crazy. That was how one guy went to a fuel station in Lagos, stark naked, saying he would not dress up unless he was allowed to buy fuel. Nobody listened to him.”
“Don’t worry, they will all get used to it. It is a matter of time. Or it may just be that Nigerians love drama. Everybody has become a Nollywood artist; there is more drama outside Nollywood today.”
“What I don’t even understand is why people use the social media these days to kill people. You’d just wake up one morning and read a fabulous story about someone dying when they are actually alive. It must be only in Nigeria that death is used as an instrument of blackmail.”
“They did it to Chief Tony Anenih. He has had to announce that his traducers will be the ones to die before him.”
“They also did it to King Sunny Ade, IBB, Desmond Elliot”
“I blame the media. It is called irresponsible journalism.”
“No, blame the bloggers. Using the social media to announce a death that has not happened should be taken as a crime: a clear case of attempted homicide.”
“Ha, wait oh”
“I just remembered something.”
“I hear Baba OBJ has just donated a chimpanzee to an animal centre. Do you want to know what the Chimpanzee is called, named by the Baba himself?”
“Just shut up that your mouth!”
“Hear me first now. Try and exercise some Patience.”
“I say keep the name to yourself.”
“This is your problem. You don’t believe things you should believe and yet you don’t have the Patience to learn about things you don’t know.”
“Thank you. So, what are you, yourself donating to the animal centre? How about you donating a cow?”
“Cow ke? I don’t want any problems, please. I may donate one of my dogs.”
“Hen, don’t try that! I’ll send you one article I have just read. It says dog meat is medicinal and that it can cure malaria. It is also fortifies the human spirit and when you eat the testes, it is like taking Viagra. Current research findings!”
“Nonsense, I can’t eat dog meat. A dog is a man’s best friend.”
“The article says it contains energy, fat, protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, iron, thiamine, niacin.”
“You are salivating! If any of my dogs should disappear, I’ll bring the police to your doorstep.”
“Which ones? The same police who cannot rescue a man who wants to commit suicide. They will rescue a dog?”
“Just don’t go about telling civilized people that here, in Nigeria, we eat dog meat to cure malaria and impotence. Argggh!”
“You think Oyinbo people don’t know? Sit down there.”
“I hear…”
“You and the things you hear”
“I hear the Senate is recommending death sentence for kidnappers”
“Kidnappers. How about rapists? Look, what we need, to save Nigeria, most urgently, is a National Depression Initiative. People are depressed. It is why they say and do stupid things. ”
“I also hear….”
“Ok. Enough of these things you hear. I have heard enough today.”


  1. pope

    May 6, 2016 at 3:39 am

    …lol, dis is some gud writeup…you kno hw to bring back laughter.tank u.

  2. banana

    May 6, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Trying hard to stay relevant………when you were in the corridor of power with Jonathan, how many articles did you write?

    • Get Over It Already!

      May 7, 2016 at 3:18 am

      Er … he was actually relevant BEFORE the political appointment. And, he’s only continuing to do what he always did. Writing and public speaking were major things he was known and sought for. He’s simply just gone back to his day job. And, FYI, he doesn’t write for BN. BN culls his articles from the Guardian.

      I don’t agree with all he says all the time but facts are facts and this Jonathan narrative (and convenient scapegoating about apparently everything under the sun in Nigeria) is so old and tired AND boring AND childish now.

  3. Bee

    May 6, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    Am I the only one who finds this style of Reuben Abati’s writing incoherent?
    If you want to write an article, write it.
    If you want an essay, write it like an essay.

    Given the subject matter he’s discussing, the style he has used here is a bit no-no.


    • Get Over It Already!

      May 7, 2016 at 3:45 am

      Writing in which the grammar doesn’t make one wince, writing in which the spellings are actually correct, writing that actually has discernible structure, writing in which the underlying and core thought and themes are not only clear but actually developed, writing that takes deep issues of national and societal importance and interrogates, discusses and communicates these to the national consciousness in a style and manner to make memorable yet less weighty on the mind; that, in itself, a laudable skill and feat.

      No, I do not find Mr. Abati’s writing “”incoherent””. On the contrary, I find it concise. In this day and age where it seems almost nowhere is free and safe from mediocrity and illiteracy and half-baked/semi-literacy (including posts and copy by BN itself and by its featured writers), I find his writing a most welcome relief! Stanley Macebuh and so many others who reminded us of what Nigeria once was, what greatness and excellence she had, what exemplary standard of education she had that students came from all over Africa and from Asia to study in Nigeria, these greats, these intelligentsia, these literary master-swordsmen are all but gone now; so, please, allow those of us who just appreciate and long for excellence, no matter where it’s coming from, to enjoy what meager offerings are left to us in today’s world.

      You, can enjoy the illiterate distortions and tortuous fractions of the English language that the sms/text message, twitter, etc-generation have bequeathed to us.

      I guess, after being used to just 140 characters, anything longer just cannot cohere in the mind.

    • Weezy

      May 7, 2016 at 2:09 pm

      I disagree completely. I don’t like his style of writing. Twitter has nothing to do with it. Trust that I read more than you and in many more genres than you. I read literary fiction, fantasy, memoirs, business, personal finance, technology blogs, and various political books and news sites.

      Frankly, only a Nigerian newspaper will publish this stream of consciousness, hypothetical conversation about God knows what between two people nobody cares about (one of them imaginary) and call it an op-ed article. Go and read Al-Jazeera, NY Times, BBC , even fashion mags like Vogue, Vanity Fair, etc. You will not find a piece like this in reputable media sites outside Nigeria.

      Stop supporting low standards. In the past our parents generation were quick to lionize people who were just okay because they liked some things the writer said. They confused good message and reputation with good writing. Objectively, this isn’t good writing.

  4. Rayva

    May 7, 2016 at 7:16 am

    A million likes for your in depth comment @ get over it

    • Get Over It Already!

      May 8, 2016 at 2:28 am

      Then, God bless you a million times, @Rayva. Thank you.

  5. Get Over It Already!

    May 8, 2016 at 1:06 am

    @weezy, “trust that I read more than you, etc, etc.”” What kind of out-sized, blind ego makes such stupendously arrogant statements? And, you progress, or rather, regress to purport and presume to ‘recommend’ to me. And your recommendations? As if these are some really exclusive, really uncommon organisations and publications one would never have heard of or had the ‘privilege’ to read or hear. Your post makes it abundantly clear there is no need, no point attempting to have an intelligent conversation with you, at least on this topic. It’s just that your monumental ego may cause you to further delude yourself that you had cowed me into silence with your ‘brilliance’. After this riposte, however, no more. And, I would never see the need neither point in detailing my educational and literary background and habits to someone who means absolutely NOTHING to me, and neither on social media; most of all, certainly not to someone who says to “”go and READ Al-Jazeera … BBC.”” Vanity Fair, indeed!

    • Get Over It Already!

      May 8, 2016 at 1:20 am

      Typo correction: read not “”READ””
      Next time you make “”recommendations”” to people (not to me), especially after such a build up about your literary prowess, please detour from your banal “”recommendations”” given in your post, and recommend things that are truly, truly great and uncommon.

  6. Tosin

    May 8, 2016 at 6:35 am

    el-o-hel 🙂

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