Monday, July 6, 2020 8:10 am
By Nehru Odeh
He was Hushpuppi but he wasn’t hush. Rather he was as loud as his glittering designer wears and fast cars. The globe was his stage and he strutted it with panache. The world was his canvas and he painted it red. He courted controversy just as he hogged the limelight, flaunting his riches everywhere he went, both on social media and in real life. If he wasn’t posing beside a Rolls Royce, he was either disembarking from a jet or entering one or spraying dollars in a club. And he sure knew how to live the good life, hang out with celebrities and show off his new-found wealth like a peacock.
This is the fairytale story of Ramon Igbalode Abass, aka Hushpupill, whose grass-to-grace story was the street lingo in Lagos and everywhere. He was the boy next door yet far. He was the homeboy who became a global citizen. And many youth did not only see him as a “role model” and hero but also looked forward to “make it” as he did, no matter how.
He was the Robin Hood of his time. He was the ‘hero’ of his time. He was the refined Anini of his time. Yet he was on the radar of the EFCC, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Interpol and the Dubai police for crimes bothering on fraud.
Yet he knew he had created many enemies just as he had made friends – celebrities and politicians alike – who were wowed by his wealth and ostentatious lifestyle and wanted to identify with him. Yes, success has many friends, as the cliché goes. Yet he boasted he was the richest and the best of them all.
The best of them all? Of course, his was the stuff of dreams, dreams that everyone aspired to. He inspired hope in many youths, as he had always tweeted, that that was reason he exhibited his flamboyant lifestyle on social media. He was the guy to beat. Here was a guy who once sold bread and hawked second-hand clothes on the streets of Lagos and was allegedly fathered by a taxi driver. Here was a guy who was a nobody in Nigeria before he suddenly became rich like Alladin and his wonderful lamp. Here was a guy who revealed he was once a gambler hustling to make ends meet but ended up as a ‘big boy’.
A big boy? Certainly.While he was hustling on the streets of Lagos, one prayer he had prayed before retiring to bed every night was that God should “butter his bread and change “his story to glory”, his shame to fame, no matter how. That, of course, is the prayer of many youths in Nigeria. And God answered that prayer in no small measure. He rode the best cars, flew private jets, lodged in first class hotels, lived in the best mansions and frolicked with the most beautiful women. He was, indeed, “Lagos big boy” according to local parlance and Nigerian media..
However that was shortlived. His fame and flamboyant lifestyle have been hushed and aborted like a stifled sneeze, as his name implies. Hushpuppi had his secret fear, the fear of falling. And he prayed vehemently against it in a tweet just before his arrest. In that tweet, he thanked God for his many blessings, asking Him to “continue to shame those waiting for me to be shamed.”
But God didn’t answer that prayer. He didn’t grant that one request. He didn’t shame those waiting for him to be shamed. Rather he was the one shamed. And his success story has become a ‘once-upon-a- time’ story, one he had eschewed and prayed against in that tweet. He had literally shot himself in the foot and can no longer gallivant around the globe.
“May success and prosperity not be a ‘once upon a time’ story in your life. Thank you God for the many blessings in my life. Continue to shame those waiting for me to be shamed,” he tweeted. But now that he has been nabbed in Dubai and extradited to the United States, he has to wait a little longer, possibly behind bars for that prayer to be answered.