The cost of national depression By 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.”