Tolu Ogunlesi: Suddenly, suddenly (YNaija Frontpage)

On Wednesday afternoon a vulcanisers stumbles on a sheet of paper that allows him to receive billion-naira payments for importing petrol, by Friday he’s the biggest client at Club Chillin’, buying VSOP for the upwardly-mobile young ‘uns whose tires earned him a living only a week earlier.

Twenty-four hours is not a long time in Nigeria. It is Eternity. We all know that Nigerian who drove a ramshackle Volkswagen Beetle out of his ramshackle flat in the morning, and returned in the evening, chauffeur-driven in a gleaming Bentley, to take one last look at the hovel he’d no longer be returning to.

As a true Nigerian, you’d probably not be shocked; you’d simply assume he’d been to “London” (Abuja) to see the “Queen” (an ex-schoolmate now placed high up in the pecking order of Abuja Big Men) who suddenly awarded him a contract for the supply of N10 billion worth of toilet rolls to public school toilets across Nigeria.

In Pentecostal circles, we’d call this a “Breakthrough”, courtesy of Jehovah Effizy, the God of “Suddenly.”

One moment, Obasanjo is a newly-released prisoner; the next, he is president-in-waiting. One day, Gbenga Daniel is the Lord of the Den and Senator-in-waiting in Ogun State; the next, he is a humiliated, embittered man granting a series of newspaper interviews filled with the sort of ranting that’d make Charlie Sheen green with envy.

Pentascope materialises out of thin Dutch air, and is in no time brandishing NITEL as its possession. And then before you can say, “EFCC”, it is gone again, as though it never existed. Ditto Transcorp – one day it is the “Chaebol” that will transform the corporate face of Nigeria, the next day we are singing a dirge for it, and the billions of naira that appear to have vanished with it. And then it is back again, thriving and promising to pay dividends.

On Wednesday afternoon a vulcanisers stumbles on a sheet of paper that allows him to receive billion-naira payments for importing petrol, by Friday he’s the biggest client at Club Chillin’, buying VSOP for the upwardly-mobile young ‘uns whose tires earned him a living only a week earlier.

Think of how Nollywood is actually no more than an elaborately constructed expression of a national obsession with the theme of Startling Reversal (e.g. Billionaire today, Begging on the streets tomorrow).

Our good friend, D’Banj, captures it brilliantly with his song, “Suddenly”. Suddenly, Suddenly. “When I remember the time when just to get a girl to be mine, dem go tell me say I no fine… dem no even send me at all at all…”

D’Banj has since suddenly gone from not getting the girls to getting even the President.

I suspect these startling reversals happen all the time all over the world. Nigeria probably does not have a monopoly on them. But something also tells me the Nigerian scenarios stand out, for their scale and speed; for the audacity with which they happen. The Audacity of Oh!

One minute we’re debating a cashless policy, the next we’re being asked to welcome a new currency note five times the value of the largest existing denomination. And na de same Papa born de two policy!

Suddenly, suddenly.

I like to throw ‘yabis’ the way of Big Men; but on this occasion, I must salute the courage and resilience of the Aliko Dangotes and Mike Adenugas, who run multi-billion dollar businesses in Nigeria’s wildly unpredictable circumstances. (I have written elsewhere about the law of ‘invisibility’ that rules business in Nigeria: “That you didn’t see it last night doesn’t mean it won’t be there this morning” – where “it” is everything from strange taxes to puzzling policies).

And a tip of the hat as well to everyone working as a columnist cum commentator on the politics of Nigeria. There must be easier ways of ensuring that your obituary will contain the words ‘hypertension’.

The opening line of British writer L. P. Hartley’s novel, ‘The Go-Between’, is: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” Let’s remix that a bit: “Nigeria is a funny country: they do things suddenly there.”

A version of this article first appeared in NEXT

 

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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Comments (2)

  1. Look, iDon't care how horrible this Country is, this is a laugh, a big fat ass LAUGH!!! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. this is just the beginning. we must decide to die before we can get our selves out of these blood suckers called pdp. this is what i call; COMBINATION OF FRESH AIR 2011 AND FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL.(FOIB).what is freedom of information if you are arresting el rufai for just one article when we have millions of articles to write and post?i don't know if i will be arrested if i say this, this same jonathan that was telling us that there was no need for zoning is turning back to pick ministers from all the states. why didn't choose his ministers from one or two states? mr. freedom of information.i know very soon, nigerians will make use of the egyptian style to pull down this pdp in a very shameful manner.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail