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Another Year …

By Reuben Abati
20 December 2009   |   10:40 am
"Ha. How time flies.. Another year don dey end be dat o." "You sound surprised. When a year starts, it must end. Me I no dey too worry myself about dat kin tin." "It was a tough year. But not quite what you will call annus mirabilis." "Anus mirabilis" "That was how the Queen of England described the year 1999." "An-us mirabilis. Every year in Nigeria is an-us mirabilis, my friend, if you understand what I mean. I can't remember when last a year ended in this country and the people had cause to celebrate. Na lie. Na so so gnashing of teeth. It is a miracle that we are alive"    

"That word is not anus mirabilis. It is annus mirabilis. See this is how you pronounce it. And I am not too sure it was the Queen that first used the phrase. It originally referred to the year 1666, and Dryden had written a poem of that title to describe the year of miracle."



"Oh, you like to worry yourself. Whether it is the Queen or Dryden, why do you bother? Am I sitting for an exam. What I know is that the year 2009 is Nigeria ‘s annus horribilis. Horrible year. I couldn’t even save N50, 000; all my investments in the stock market vanished. December don come now, man just dey use all kinds of tactics to dodge people"

"Who are you dodging?"

"I am doing Tiger Woods now o. Minding my business henceforth. Everything has been suspended till the new year."

"What are you suspending?"

"You don’t know that this is the time to give gifts? This type of year makes someone thoroughly useless and anti-social. The year started with financial meltdown, it is ending with fuel scarcity, and the reports we are getting is that year 2010 will be worse for Nigerians."

"Is that what makes the year horrible for you? What of people who could not even feed their families? I have just finished reading the story of a lady, a bank worker, who stole N2 million of depositor’s funds and her explanation is that she needed the money to be able to pay her children’s school fees. Now that is what I call horrible."

"Worse things have happened in Nigeria . Horrible things happen everyday. In 2009, so many people died from road accidents even the Road Safety Commission had to exclaim say de thing tire dem o."

"The roads are bad."

"No potable water"

"No power supply. Even the Power Company is saying de thing tire dem o."

"I read one article by Adewale Maja-Pearce in the current edition of New African magazine. After ten years of trying to be patriotic, living in his father’s land, he had to pack his things and run back to England ."

"There are many like him. They come home from their stations in diaspora, hoping to be part of an imagined process of renewal in Nigeria , but since 1999, I have seen many of them pack their bags one by one, regretting ever returning home."

"It takes courage to live in this country. Me, the struggle is my life. You must have a bit of the Mandela spirit in you. The ability to suffer and endure. One of my friends came back home like that, but the day his wife mistakenly fell into a pit latrine, when they went to visit some relations, he immediately evacuated his family. Pit latrine! Other people’s smelly matter."

"There is a limit. Everyday, I see people around me losing hope. They drown their sorrow in base pursuits; they give the country a bad name. It is sad watching the same film every year."

"Well, even if it gets worse than this, some of us won’t go anywhere."

"Suffering and smiling."

"It is a matter of degrees."

"I think the really tragic thing that has happened in this country is our loss of the sense of hope and security. Our faith was further assaulted in 2009."

"I am a Christian. My faith does not allow me to lose hope. My Father in Heaven is forever faithful. When the children of Darkness gnash their teeth at the Eleventh hour, the children of Light shall receive Salvation"

"Please can you save that for the Church? I am talking about personal safety, you are dreaming. I went through this year with fear and anxiety. I know people whose relatives were kidnapped, murdered, raped. And the police could do nothing."

"As per that, you have a point. The police are saying de thing tire dem o. This Xmas even, I am not going home. We are celebrating Xmas in Lagos . We are honouring our Lord in Lagos ."

"I hear kidnappers are waiting along the Highway. This year, we saw how kidnapping got elevated to an art and a profession. If anybody is angry with society, he or she can just go and kidnap somebody and collect ransom. It is the new job for the unemployed. Except that it is innocent people that suffer."

"Some rich people have been made to cry too."

"Leadership is the thing. This year, the number one topic has been the failure of leadership. Look at all the major issues of the year. They are linked together by the failure of leadership. A nation without leaders is in jeopardy."

"It is on a sick bed actually. Leadership was also the issue last year."

"You are right. And the year before."

"Every year "

"Did you see the picture of the Queen of England taking the train ahead of Xmas 2009. The common touch. Identifying with the people."

"I can’t imagine a Nigerian leader riding the okada to church. It is not possible."

"We are talking about the Queen riding the train, you are talking about okada?"

"I am trying to come up with the Nigerian equivalent."

"Well, that is it. Nigerian leaders don’t identify with the people. They don’t even want to be seen near them. Isn’t that why the Abuja authorities want to build new houses for the leaders of the National Assembly? They say because too many people now live close to them, that amounts to a breach of national security. Where Obama lives in Washington DC is right inside town. You can touch the fence, you can peep inside, you can even go inside and have a look on a visiting day. Our leaders here run away from us."

"They won’t maintain petroleum pipelines, so every year there are pipeline explosions claiming many lives."

"Ha, na wah."

"The stock market crashed. The banks collapsed. We saw big-time bankers, the role models of last year, being pushed around by security agents. Big men became fugitives, hiding from the law. I learnt some lessons from that."

"Good for those people. Politicians have also not changed. They are still snatching ballot boxes."

"Wait till next February. All roads lead to Anambra."

"I hear Soludo has asked Peter Obi to prepare his hand-over notes."

"Even before the election?"

"That Anambra election will be hot. You will think all the gubernatorial candidates are preparing for a civil war. Well, what am I saying? Every election in Nigeria is war by another name…"

"Let me ask you something. Who is your Man of the Year?"

"Man of the Year… ? Me, now. I. Me. Myself."

"Come on, be serious."

"Man suffer no be small."

"We are not looking for suffer-heads. I am talking about someone who made a great impact on Nigeria or the world, for good or for ill."

"Let me see. International or local?"


"I will choose Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Governor of the Central Bank, for his banking reforms."

"Yes… and No… The fellow talks too much."

"Are you looking for a mumu? And what is wrong with talking? It is a democratic right to talk."

"Sanusi is a work in progress."

"Okay, President Umaru Musa Yar’çdua."

"Haba! Man of the Year or Sickler of the Year?"

"Yes, Man of the Year. Was there a day you didn’t have to talk or worry about the man throughout the year? The President is ill o, the president is well oh, where is he o, what is he doing o? He was the most dominant factor in our lives."

"Hen, hen."

"Then look at what he did in the Niger Delta with the Amnesty programme. Not even Obasanjo could get the militants in the Niger Delta to lay down arms. For his major breakthrough in the Niger Delta, he deserves to be Man of the Year."

"Any other thing?"

"The man returned money to the Nigerian treasury. Last year, he did so. This year too, he has saved money. Before him, government officials used to spend public funds anyhow. You can say one thing for him, he is a decent man."

"I am not persuaded. Returning money and doing nothing. Even the failure of your so-called amnesty programme has been exposed. On December 18, MEND militants armed with assault rifles, heavy calibre guns and rocket launchers attacked a Shell/Chevron pipeline in Abonnema, Rivers state."

"You mean someone has returned all the arms and ammunitions seized by the President before he left for Saudi Arabia ? Because the President is not at home? That is treason."

"Calm down. Nobody needs to return anything. Those boys were playing games with the government. They never believed in the amnesty idea. You think they surrendered their real weapons? If the Federal Government likes to stage a circus, the boys have shown that they will play along"

"But this is now the time for the likes of Henry Okah, Tompolo, General Boyloaf, the Governors, all the friends of President Yar’Adua in the Niger Delta to stand up and defend the peace process. For them, it should be a matter of honour."

"You think it is that easy?"

"What I can say is that this is happening because the President is not in the country. When he returns, all those boys will stop the nonsense, because he will simply order the troops to go after them."

"He will send soldiers to the Niger Delta? That will amount to a declaration of war."

"Which kin country be dis sef?"

"Try another Man of the Year."


"He was everybody’s Man of the Year last year. Don’t ruin the man with too much praise."

"Okay, Tiger Woods."

"Why, Tiger?"

"For his stamina, mai broda. He alone 15 women! Na work de man do o…"

"No. That’s not what we are talking about. Public impact, not private impact."

"If I carry 15 women give you now, you fit? 15 sef too plenty; if I get one original one, those kill and go types. Afterwards, it is hotel staff that will report the outcome when they discover your corpse. Here lies… He died on very active and special duty! "

"E be like say you don shack? Small craze dey worry you."

"No. You make a suggestion then. Every one that I suggest, you reject."

"Fine. You know my Man of the Year?"

"I can’t read your mind."

"I will suggest the ordinary Nigerian, the man on the street, the common man, for his resilience, year in, year out."

"Which man on the street? That is too vague. Look, that your common man is his own worst enemy. He is part of the problem. Which common man? The same common man who will not obey traffic rules and regulations, the same common man who picks pockets at bus stops, the same common man who is an internationally-acclaimed fraudster, the same common man like that salesgirl who will collect your money and refuse to give you your change?"

"These are victims of the system."

"Victims! Okay what of the four school principals in Niger State who encouraged exam malpractices in the last WAEC May/June examinations. They declared their schools Miracle Centres and asked students and parents to pay a special fee and get wonderful results. These same principals organised a group to help the students to write their papers. So, are these your common men? Are the willing parents and their wards part of your common man? And the useless principals?"

"Not the kind of common man I have in mind."

"The Niger State Government has ordered a demotion of the four principals, but some other common men, the colleagues of the principals, teachers, and parents are begging the government to temper justice with justice. Your common men!"

"Those school principals should be dismissed from service and charged to court. In fact, they should be shot. They are criminals."

"There you are"

"Or will your common man also include the Speaker of the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly who was said to have contemplated asking a juju man to help him trace a missing $15, 000 removed from an allowance of $50, 000 paid to him by the state government, which he kept in his bedroom."

"Do they now pay government officials in dollars, these days? He won’t qualify as a common man definitely."

"If you know the number of people who will claim to be common. We no longer need common men who are heroes of acquiescence and vague resilience in this country; we need common men who can stand on the side of good values."

"But I think the man has since denied the juju story and he says he has not lost any dollar notes"

"I believe he has never even seen a dollar note in his life. This is not a good time to go about talking about dollar notes. I hear kidnappers are on the look out for information."

"See how we are sweating to locate a good man in Nigeria ."

"Just don’t come and say your wife or your Pastor or your G.O. is man of the year. That won’t work. "

"Okay. Alright. Come on, let me buy you a drink."