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MTN Nigeria Plc has reported a loss before tax of N177.8 billion compared to a pre-tax profit of N518.8 billion a year earlier. The losses resulted in a wipe-out of shareholders’ funds. 

The company attributed the losses to a massive foreign currency loss of N740 billion up from N81 billion reported in 2022.

This is the company’s first-ever loss since it became a quoted company in Nigeria.

According to MTN, “the loss was significantly due to operational changes to the Nigerian Foreign exchange market, including the abolishment of the segmented/parallel structure announced by CBN in June 2023.”

MTN also stated that it has used an official (NAFEM) exchange rate of N907.11/$1 as of 31 December 2023 suggesting losss could be wider if the current exchange rate between the naira and dollar persis by the end of March when it publishes its Q1 results.

Key Highlights 

  • Revenue (2023 vs. 2022): N2.469 trillion vs. N2.012 trillion, +22.69% YoY. 
  • Operating Profit (2023 vs. 2022): N773.660 billion vs. N734.164 billion, +5.38% YoY 
  • Finance Income (2023 vs. 2022): N25.815 billion vs. N13.768 billion, +87.50% YoY 
  • Finance Cost (2023 vs. 2022): N236.927 billion vs. N147.287 billion, +60.86% YoY 
  • Net FX Loss (2023 vs. 2022): N740.434 billion vs. N81.822 billion, +804.93% YoY 
  • (Loss)/Profit after tax (2023 vs. 2022): -N137.021 billion vs. N348.727 billion, -139.29% YoY 
  • (Loss)/Earnings per share (2023 vs. 2022): -N6.38 vs. N16.76, -138.07% YoY 
  • Total Borrowing (2023 vs. 2022): N1.177 trillion vs. N689.673 billion, +70.69% YoY 
  • Total subscribers increased by 5.3% to 79.7 million
  • Active data users increased by 12.7% to 44.6 million
  • Active mobile money (MoMo PSB) wallets increased by 163.2% to 5.3 million
  • Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) grew by 12.3% to N1.2 trillion
  • EBITDA margin decreased by 4.5 percentage points (pp) to 48.7%
  • Net loss for the year has resulted in a depletion of its retained earnings and shareholders’ fund to negative N208.0 billion and N40.8 billion, respectively

Other updates

MTN Nigeria communicated that due to the substantial currency devaluation and its repercussions on retained earnings, the Directors will not propose a final dividend payment, given the resultant loss for the year ended December 31, 2023. 

  • However, it is important to note that MTN Nigeria had on July 27, 2023, approved interim dividends of N117.48 billion for the year ending December 31, 2023, amounting to N5.60 kobo per ordinary share. 
  • MTN Nigeria Communications Plc (MTNN) closed at N222.90 on the last day of February, representing a year-to-date (YtD) loss of 15.6% for shareholders. 
  • Shareholders’ worries are compounded by the fact that MTNN has lost 19% of the stock’s value from February 1st to date. 
  • MTN also stated that despite the losses, they maintained strong free cash flow generation (up 11.6% YoY to N631.6 billion).

Company Commentary: “2023 witnessed a very challenging operating environment characterised by rising inflation, currency devaluation and foreign exchange shortages, complicated by geopolitical disruptions and cash shortages in Q1 arising from a redesign of the naira.

These factors created severe headwinds for our customers and our business during the year. The inflation rate increased throughout the year, reaching 28.9% in December 2023 – the highest reading in 18 years – with an average rate of 24.5%.

This was further exacerbated by higher fuel prices, arising from the removal of the fuel subsidy in May 2023, with the average prices of diesel and petrol up by 66.4% and 257.1% in 2023 to N1,416.8/litre and N600/litre, respectively. In June 2023, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) adopted a more liberal foreign exchange management system and reintroduced the ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ model.

This has resulted in a 96.7% unfavourable movement in the exchange rate against the US dollar from N461.1/US$ in December 2022 to N907.1/US$ (Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEM) rate) in December 2023.

This development contributed meaningfully to the upward pressure on the cost of doing business in Nigeria, and for MTN Nigeria in particular, significantly increased the costs in relation to our tower leases.”



As Nigeria’s vice president cut the ribbon on Procter & Gamble Co.’s diaper production line in 2017, the $300 million facility near Lagos was hailed as a symbol of the country’s economic ambitions. In December, P&G said it was leaving the West African state.

The US consumer goods giant is not alone. In recent months at least three other global conglomerates have announced they are exiting Africa’s most populous nation, and second biggest economy. Among them GSK Plc, Bayer AG and Sanofi SA. Last year Unilever Plc cut some of the products it was manufacturing in the country. Nestle SA has posted losses from its operations.

At the heart of the exodus is a scarcity of the dollars international businesses need to repatriate earnings. The central bank has devalued the naira twice in the past eight months and is still struggling to clear a backlog of demand for greenbacks companies require to pay debts and import raw materials. A near complete absence of a reliable electricity supply and congestion at Nigeria’s ports are compounding the malaise.

“It’s news because it’s P&G. It’s news because it’s GSK. It’s news because they have been in the country for a long time — but there are others that have died quietly,” Segun Ajayi-Kadir, director general of The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria advocacy group said on local television after the P&G announcement. “If the current situation doesn’t improve, certainly we’ll have more closures.”

Some of the world’s largest oil reserves, ample fertile land and a rapidly growing population should have created a lucrative market for consumer goods producers following the restoration of democracy in 1999. Instead policy missteps, corruption and an over-reliance on oil fueled dysfunction in the economy. The middle class didn’t expand as much as expected.

The implications for Nigeria are bleak. Its oil-dependent, $394 billion economy is already hobbled by high levels of imports. The corporate exits — $187 million in investment left the country in 2022 compared with an inflow of almost $9 billion in 2011 — will only exacerbate pressure on the naira, which has depreciated 86% over the last eight years, and deal a further blow to long-standing diversification efforts.

President Bola Tinubu has already introduced unpopular policies to revive the economy since taking office in May. He must now convince business that he can staunch the leak of big name multinationals from the country.

Taxes and duties are being simplified and a committee has been set up within the office of the vice-president to cut red tape, and there’s a plan to improve infrastructure, according to Temitope Ajayi, a spokesman for the president. Tinubu has also vowed to end jihadist violence and criminality that has made shipping goods in much of the north virtually impossible for many major companies.

“They can make a marked difference,” said Pieter Scribante, a South Africa-based senior political economist at Oxford Economics, of the government. “But it will take time — not a couple of years.”

Many companies can’t wait. On Feb. 7, PZ Cussons Plc, a UK-based maker of soap and other personal care products that counts Nigeria as its biggest market slashed its profit expectations for the whole group. Cadbury Nigeria Plc has had to convert loans from its UK parent into equity because it couldn’t find the foreign currency to repay them.

Nestle and Unilever are still operating on the sprawling industrial estate where the P&G production line was shuttered. But outside the walled complex, 65-year-old Raphael Babalola said he isn’t as busy loading boxes onto his truck for distribution as he once was. Some days he even drives off empty. “Companies just aren’t producing like they used to,” he said.

Adigun Daniel, 63, another driver, said he’s idle most of the time when only a few years ago he would transport goods to the east and north of Nigeria, a country almost three times the size of Germany, at least twice a week. Other drivers have given up altogether and sold their trucks, he added.

Nigeria suffered two recessions in eight years after a drop in prices of crude drained foreign-exchange coffers and Covid struck. Of the 230 million strong population, 130 are now multidimensionally poor, and with inflation at a 27-year high, fewer and fewer Nigerians can afford anything but the basics.

“Twenty years ago, 15 years ago it wasn’t a mirage, it was a real business opportunity,” said Adedayo Ademuwagun, a Lagos-based analyst at political risk firm Songhai Advisory of Nigeria. “But given the complications it’s starting to look a lot less attractive.”

Other companies that have tried and failed to crack the Nigerian market include South Africa’s Shoprite Ltd., Africa’s biggest grocer, which left in 2021 — 16 years after opening its first store in a country it then envisaged as the linchpin of its planned expansion across Africa, which has largely been a disaster. Clothing and food retailer Woolworths Holdings Ltd., fashion chain Truworths International Ltd. and cereal and food producer Tiger Brands Ltd. have also packed up.

For manufacturers there’s an added difficulty: competition from lower cost rivals like Turkish diaper-maker Hayat Kimya AS, and a unit of Singapore’s Tolaram Group Inc. that makes Indomie Noodles, a national dish of sorts in Nigeria. While these companies are also struggling, they are too invested to leave, said Girish Sharma, chief executive officer of the Colgate Tolaram joint venture in Nigeria. “Things are tough right now,” he said, but adding “exiting is not an option.”

P&G declined to comment on the closure of its plant. When the news was announced in December, its Chief Financial Officer, Andre Schulten, said; “It’s very difficult for us as a US dollar-denominated company to create value,” and “it’s also difficult to operate, because of the macroeconomic environment.”

The government says Nigerian firms can step in and fill the gap left by the corporate exits. But they are bleeding too, with many of them among the 767 companies that shut down in the first quarter of last year alone. The disused P&G factory did however present an opportunity for Fouani, a local manufacturer, which now makes sanitary pads and diapers in the same complex.

Nigerian firms should be the priority, Ajayi-Kadir said of the Nigerian manufacturers group, adding that he’d like to see less taxes and more lines of credit. “FDI is excellent, but it should come secondary to empowering the local manufacturers,” he said. “That is when you have certainty that come rain, come shine, they will be with you.”

While Tinubu has taken measures that economists and investors in Nigeria’s capital markets say are long overdue those steps are causing misery for ordinary people and sapping the popularity of his government.

Some, like Tolaram’s Sharma, have faith in Tinubu even if the benefits of what he is doing are yet to be seen. “He’s got a tough job,” Sharma said. “He will do things to fix the economy. As we speak lots of things are happening.’’



Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has revoked the licences of 4,173 bureau de change (BDC) operators for failing to observe regulatory provisions.

In a statement signed by Sidi Ali, CBN’s acting director, corporate communications, on Friday, the apex bank said the BDCs failed to observe at least one of its regulatory provisions, such as payment of all necessary fees, including licence renewal, within the stipulated period in line with the guidelines.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in exercise of the powers conferred on it under the Bank and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 2020, Act No. 5, and the Revised Operational Guidelines for Bureaux De Change 2015 (the Guidelines), has revoked the licenses of 4,173 Bureaux De Change Operators,” CBN said.

Other provisions not adhered to are rendition of returns, compliance with guidelines, directives and circulars of the CBN, especially anti-money laundering (AML), countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) and Counter-Proliferation Financing (CPF) regulations.

The apex bank said it is revising the regulatory and supervisory guidelines for BDC operations in Nigeria.

“Compliance with the new requirements will be mandatory for all stakeholders in the sector when the revised guidelines become effective,” CBN said.

The financial regulator advised the public to take note.

Some of the affected BDCs are;

  • Mountaintop BDC LTD
  • Movement BDC
  • Pointless FOREX BDC LTD
  • Protected BDC LTD
  • Reading BDC LTD
  • Roundtable BDC LTD
  • Shares OF Time BDC LTD
  • Stop Over BDC LTD
  • Surging BDC LTD
  • Valid BDC LTD
  • Unical BDC LTD
  • Turnover BDC LTD
  • Couple BDC LTD
  • Happy Ends BDC LTD
  • Village WAY BDC LTD
  • Welcome BDC LTD
  • Oyinbo BDC LTD
  • Oyoyo BDC LTD
  • Lamshade BDC LTD
  • Internal Curry BDC LTD
  • Give And Collect BDC LTD
  • Give and Take BDC LTD

The full list of the affected BDCs can be found here.


The Cable

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) says corruption is prevalent in the Nigerian judiciary.

A representative of the UNODC, Melissa Omene, said this on Friday at a judicial accountability event in Abuja.

The event was organised by Tapinitiative, a not-for-profit organisation

Speaking on a 2019 survey conducted by the UNODC and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Omene said the survey “found that 20 per cent of those who had contact with the Nigerian judiciary were confronted with a request for the payment of a bribe.

“Indeed, corruption in the Nigerian judiciary is extensive and both male and female judges are party to it.”

Giving a comparative analysis of the issue, a UNODC study on gender and corruption in 2020, disclosed that “male judges are far more likely to be involved in bribe-seeking conduct than their female colleagues.”

The study said corruption amongst judicial officers had eroded “public confidence in the judiciary.”

‘Why public trust in judiciary waning’

Weighing in on the quality of justice dispensation by Nigerian courts, a lawyer, Jibrin Okutepa, blamed lawyers and judges for the loss of public confidence in the judicial system.

Okutepa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and a former member of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC), said the country is in a moral decay.

He decried the conduct of senior lawyers who compromise judges to get favourable verdicts.

“There is no accountability from the judiciary because the Nigerian society does not demand accountability,” he said.

The lawyer criticised the process of appointment of judges that is based on “rationing.”

Okutepa pointed out that recent judgements of the Supreme Court on crucial cases dealt a fatal blow to public confidence in the judiciary to do justice on matters that come before it.

“The Supreme Court has elevated the rules of court above constitutional provisions. There is no accountability from the Nigerian judiciary,” he submitted.

He lamented that the age-old principle of judicial precedent has been bastardised across the courts in Nigeria.

“You can see five different decisions of the Supreme Court on one issue that are inherently contradictory,” Okutepa said, adding that “precedents are set based on who is before the court.”

In the build-up to last year’s general elections, the Supreme Court delivered two separate judgments affirming the candidacy of Ahmad Lawan, a former Senate President, and Godswill Akpabio as authentic ticket-holders for the National Assembly elections in their respective states of Yobe and Akwa Ibom.

Lawan and Akpabio were presidential aspirants in the All Progressives Congress and could not have been aspirants at the same time for the parliamentary polls because of the latest provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.

But the Supreme Court in 2022 declared them winners of the legislative primary elections of the APC, a development that drew outrage amongst close observers of the Nigerian judiciary.

Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom State and minister under ex-President Muhammadu Buhari, would later win the main election to become the current Senate President.

Similarly, a panellist at the event, Chioma Onyenucheya-Uko, said the judiciary missed an opportunity to bolster its public image when the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja last year rejected requests by the two leading opposition candidates – Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi – to have the court’s proceedings televised.

The panel, moderated by Lillian Okenwa, a journalist and lawyer, said nepotism was commonplace in judicial appointments.

But, a former judge of the Federal High Court, Ibrahim Buba, rated Nigerian judges high in the discharge of their duties.

Delivering a keynote address on the topic, “Impact of judicial accountability on public trust in the legal system,” Buba said Nigerian judges stood up to dictators and democratic leaders in their judicial functions.

“…having regards to the conditions and environment of work, with all modesty, I say KUDOS to the Nigerian bar and the Nigerian bench, take away politics, where people differ on opinions and questions of law and both may be right, the Nigerian judiciary has given a very good account of itself,” Mr Buba said.

He explained that politicians “who cannot have their way undermine the independence of the Nigerian judiciary, not only starving it of funds but ensuring an erosion of independence of the judiciary and having friction and try to remove the chief judges unconstitutionally.”

“Nigerian judges are courageous, very, very courageous, they have dared the military, they have dared the political class, like every society, they have also dealt even with their colleagues who are found wanting.”



A BUA truck conveying cartons of spaghetti has been attacked by hoodlums at Dogarawa axis of Zaria-Kano expressway.

Dogarawa is a settlement located on the outskirt of Zaria along the expressway.

This is coming barely one week after desperate residents hijacked trailers loaded with foodstuffs in the Suleja area of Niger State, stealing bags of rice and other food items amidst widespread hardship in the country.

The trailers were said to be heading for Abuja from Kaduna when the mob blocked the road and made burnfires on the highway.

An eyewitness disclosed that the Friday incident occurred around 3.15pm after the driver of the truck parked by the road side to observe prayer.

He said immediately after the driver parked, the mob started carting away cartons of spaghetti.

The eyewitness, who described the incident as unfortunate and regrettable, said such act had never occurred around the area since he had been trading there for more than 10 years.

“Not a single cartoon of the spaghetti was left by the hoodlums on the truck,” the source added.

It was learnt that a police team deployed to the scene of the incident arrested five suspects.


Daily Trust

US to airdrop humanitarian aid into Gaza — how it can help and why it's so complicated

President Joe Biden on Friday announced that the U.S. will begin airdropping sorely needed humanitarian assistance into Gaza amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Here’s what you need to know:


Biden said the airdrops will be coordinated with Jordan, which has conducted several rounds of airdrops into Gaza in recent months and will begin in the “coming days.” The first deliveries are expected to be pallets of food -– military rations known as MREs — with other assistance potentially to follow. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby didn’t offer a more exact timetable for the airdrops but said the first round would not be the last.


The Biden decision comes after at least 115 Palestinians were killed and more than 750 others were injured on Thursday trying to access aid in northern Gaza under disputed circumstances, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry. Witnesses said Israeli troops opened fire as huge crowds raced to pull goods off an aid convoy, while Israel has said it fired only when its troops felt threatened and that most of the civilian casualties were from trampling.

The U.S. has been pushing Israel to speed the flow of humanitarian assistance into Gaza and to open a third crossing into the territory, but Friday’s violence showed the challenges no matter the circumstances.

“The loss of life is heartbreaking,” Biden said Friday as he announced his decision to order airdrops. “People are so desperate.”


Asked how the U.S. would keep the supplies from falling into Hamas’ hands, Kirby told reporters that the U.S. would learn over the course of the aerial operation.

“There’s few military operations that are more complicated than humanitarian assistance airdrops,” he said. Kirby said Pentagon planners will identify drop locations aiming to balance getting the aid closest to where it’s needed without putting those on the ground in harm’s way from the drops themselves.

“The biggest risk is making sure nobody gets hurt on the ground,” Kirby said. He said the U.S. is also working through how the airdropped aid will be collected and distributed once it’s on the ground.


The U.S. believes the airdrops will help address the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, but they are no replacement for trucks, which can transport far more aid more effectively — though Thursday’s events also showed the risks with ground transport. Kirby said the airdrops have an advantage over trucks in that planes can move aid to a particular location very quickly. But in terms of volume, the airdrops will be “a supplement to, not a replacement for moving things in by ground.”


The U.S. and allies have tried to broker a new temporary ceasefire between Hamas and Israel that would see the release of more hostages held by the militant group in Gaza, the freeing of some Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and an up-to-six-week pause in the fighting. If a ceasefire were secured, the U.S. hopes it would allow large quantities of aid to flow into Gaza over a sustained period of time. Biden on Friday also said the U.S. was working with allies on establishing a “maritime corridor” to provide assistance to Gazans from the sea.




CIA has ‘many bases’ in Ukraine – FSB boss

The CIA has “many” bases in Ukraine, the head of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Aleksandr Bortnikov told Russian television on Thursday, when asked about a New York Times report on the spy network.

The US newspaper described a decade-long record of cooperation between the American spy agency and Ukrainian special services.

According to the article, which was published last Sunday, the CIA has 12 secret bases on Ukrainian soil which are actively working against Russia. The paper wrote that over the past eight years, the CIA has trained and equipped Kiev’s intelligence officers in underground bunkers, some of which are nestled deep in the forests of Ukraine.

“They [US intelligence] had entered there a long time ago and are using this resource to do the dirty work, on their own and with the hands of the Ukrainian special services,” Bortnikov told Channel 1.

He said “work is ongoing,” when asked whether Russia can get to the CIA sites.

Earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov suggested that the Americans have far more outposts in Ukraine than the 12 bases reported by the NYT. Russia was not oblivious to the clandestine Western activities within the borders of its hostile neighbor, officials in Moscow have said.

The new report confirms that Ukrainian commando units involved in anti-Russian sabotage had received special training from American agents, who also helped them track Russian troop movements. Kiev was also behind the targeted assassination of several high-profile figures in Donbass over the years, the newspaper said.

Last year, The Washington Post published a similar expose on the CIA’s role in turning Ukraine into a tool against Russia. Unlike the NYT, the Post discussed Kiev’s state assassinations program in detail and Ukraine’s apparent role in the deaths of journalist and political activist Daria Dugina and military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky, both of whom were murdered in bomb attacks on Russian soil.



Netherlands' Rutte signs security deal in Ukraine, promising artillery funding

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte signed a security deal with Ukraine in the northeastern city of Kharkiv on Friday and said the Netherlands would help fund the supply of 800,000 artillery shells to hold back Russian forces.

Rutte met President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on a surprise visit to Kharkiv, just 40 km (26 miles) from the Russian border, and became the seventh Western leader to sign a 10-year security agreement with Ukraine in the last two months.

"The Netherlands will contribute to the Czech Republic's initiative to purchase 800,000 artillery shells, he told a news conference, saying they would arrive within weeks.

Ukraine is critically short of artillery rounds as its troops try to hold back Russian forces who are again on the offensive in the east, two years after Moscow launched its full-scale invasion.

The Czech Republic said last month it had sourced 500,000 rounds of 155 mm shells and 300,000 122 mm rounds from third countries, which could be delivered to Ukraine in weeks if funding was secured.

The shells would plug a big hole in Ukraine's stockpiles with a vital package of U.S. military assistance stuck in Congress facing months of Republican opposition.

Rutte said the Netherlands would donate 150 million euros ($162 million) to the Czech initiative, taking the total raised so far to 250 million euros.

The security agreement he signed with Ukraine included 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) in military aid from the Netherlands this year, as well as other defence assistance over the next 10 years, Zelenskiy said.


The visit to Kharkiv was a rare one by a senior Western politician as the city is regularly attacked by Russian air strikes and is much closer to the Russian border than Kyiv.

The two leaders visited an underground classroom established to allow schoolchildren to attend classes in person, safe from missile strikes.

Rutte praised the courage and determination of the children and teachers as "a true beacon of hope that inspires Ukrainians to keep fighting and allies to keep supporting Ukraine".

"The task facing Ukrainian allies is clear – do whatever you can to provide what is needed, [for] as long as it takes," he said.

Zelenskiy described Rutte's visit as "symbolic" in a "city that has survived a lot".

"Here in Kharkiv, it's 100% obvious that Russia is waging a criminal war, its objective is only destruction."

In a statement on Telegram, Zelenskiy said that more than 20,000 buildings - schools, universities, churches, kindergartens and residential houses - had been destroyed in Kharkiv in the last two years.

Canada, Italy, Germany, France, Denmark and Britain have all signed bilateral security deals over the past two months that are meant to tide Ukraine over until it can reach its aim of joining the Western military alliance, NATO.

Andriy Yermak, head of Zelenskiy's office, said agreements were also being discussed with other countries. ($1 = 0.9246 euros)



It’s been almost 20 years since my diagnosis, and I’ve learned quite a bit.

Are you someone who enjoys the unsolicited opinions of strangers and acquaintances? If so, I can’t recommend cancer highly enough. You won’t even have the first pathology report in your hands before the advice comes pouring in. Laugh and the world laughs with you; get cancer and the world can’t shut its trap.

Stop eating sugar; keep up your weight with milkshakes. Listen to a recent story on NPR; do not read a recent story in Time magazine. Exercise—but not too vigorously; exercise—hard, like Lance Armstrong. Join a support group, make a collage, make a collage in a support group, collage the shit out of your cancer. Do you live near a freeway or drink tap water or eat food microwaved on plastic plates? That’s what caused it. Do you ever think about suing? Do you ever wonder whether, if you’d just let some time pass, the cancer would have gone away on its own?

Before I got cancer, I thought I understood how the world worked, or at least the parts that I needed to know about. But when I got cancer, my body broke down so catastrophically that I stopped trusting what I thought and believed. I felt that I had to listen when people told me what to do, because clearly I didn’t know anything.

Much of the advice was bewildering, and all of it was anxiety-producing. In the end, because so many people contradicted one another, I was able to ignore most of them. But there was one warning I heard from a huge number of people, almost every day, and sometimes two or three times a day: I had to stay positive. People who beat cancer have a great positive attitude. It’s what distinguishes the survivors from the dead.

There are books about how to develop the positive attitude that beats cancer, and meditation tapes to help you visualize your tumors melting away. Friends and acquaintances would send me these books and tapes—and they would send them to my husband, too. We were both anxious and willing to do anything in our control.

But after a terrible diagnosis, a failed surgery, a successful surgery, and the beginning of chemotherapy, I just wasn’t feeling very … up. At the end of another terrible day, my husband would gently ask me to sit in the living room so that I could meditate and think positive thoughts. I was nauseated from the drugs, tired, and terrified that I would leave my little boys without a mother. All I wanted to do was take my Ativan and sleep. But I couldn’t do that. If I didn’t change my attitude, I was going to die.

People get diagnosed with cancer in different ways. Some have a family history, and their doctors monitor them for years. Others have symptoms for so long that the eventual diagnosis is more of a terrible confirmation than a shock. And then there are people like me, people who are going about their busy lives when they push open the door of a familiar medical building for a routine appointment and step into an empty elevator shaft.

The afternoon in 2003 that I found out I had aggressive breast cancer, my boys were almost 5. The biggest thing on my mind was getting the mammogram over with early enough that I could pick up some groceries before the babysitter had to go home. I put on the short, pink paper gown and thought about dinner. And then everything started happening really fast. Suddenly there was the need for a second set of films, then a sonogram, then the sharp pinch of a needle. In my last fully conscious moment as the person I once was, I remember asking the doctor if I should have a biopsy. The reason I asked was so that he could look away from the screen, realize that he’d scared me, and reassure me. “No, no,” he would say; “it’s completely benign.” But he didn’t say that. He said, “That’s what we’re doing right now.”

Later I would wonder why the doctor hadn’t asked my permission for the needle biopsy. The answer was that I had already passed through the border station that separates the healthy from the ill. The medical community and I were on new terms.

The doctor could see that I was in shock, and he seemed pretty rattled himself. He kept saying that he should call my husband. “You need to prepare yourself,” he said, twice. And once: “It’s aggressive.” But I didn’t want him to call my husband. I wanted to tear off my paper gown and never see that doctor, his office, or even the street where the building was located ever again. I had a mute, animal need to get the hell out of there. The news was so bad, and it kept getting worse. I couldn’t think straight. My little boys were so small. They were my life, and they needed me.

Three weeks later, I was in the infusion center. Ask Google “What is the worst chemotherapy drug?” and the answer is doxorubicin. That’s what I got, as well as some other noxious pharmaceuticals. That oncologist filled me and my fellow patients up with so much poison that the sign on the bathrooms said we had to flush twice to make sure every trace was gone before a healthy person—a nurse, or a family member—could use the toilet. I was not allowed to hug my children for the first 24 hours after treatment, and in the midst of this absolute hell—in the midst of the poison and the crying and the sorrow and the terror—I was supposed to get a really great positive attitude.

The book we were given several copies of, which was first published in 1986 and has been reissued several times since, is titled Love, Medicine and Miracles and was written by a pediatric surgeon named Bernie Siegel. He seems less interested in exceptional scientific advances than in “exceptional patients.” To be exceptional, you have to tell your body that you want to live; you have to say “No way” to any doctor who says you have a fatal illness. You have to become a channel of perfect self-love, and remember that “the simple truth is, happy people generally don't get sick.” Old angers or disappointments can congeal into cancer. You need to get rid of those emotions, or they will kill you.

In 1989 a Stanford psychiatrist named David Spiegel published a study of women with metastatic breast cancer. He created a support group for half the women, whom he taught self-hypnosis. The other women got no extra social support. The results were remarkable: Spiegel reported that the women in the group survived twice as long as the other women. This study was hugely influential in modern beliefs about meditation and cancer survival. It showed up in the books my husband read to me, which were filled with other stories of miraculous healings, of patients defying the odds through their own emotional work. But I was so far behind. From the beginning I couldn’t stop crying. I began to think I was hopeless and would never survive.

I needed help, and I remembered a woman my husband and I had talked to in the first week after my diagnosis. Both of us had found in those conversations our only experience of calm, our only reassurance that we were doing the right things. Anne Coscarelli is a clinical psychologist and the founder of the Simms/Mann-UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology, which helps patients and their families cope with the trauma of cancer. We had reached out to her when we were trying to understand my diagnosis. Now I needed her for much more.

For the first half hour in her office, we just talked about how sick I felt and how frightened I was. Then—nervously—I confessed: I wasn’t doing the work of healing myself. I wasn’t being positive.

“Why do you need to be positive?” she asked in a neutral voice.

I thought it should be obvious, but I explained: Because I didn’t want to die!

Coscarelli remained just as neutral and said, “There isn’t a single bit of evidence that having a positive attitude helps heal cancer.”

What? That couldn’t possibly be right. How did she know that?

“They study it all the time,” she said. “It’s not true.”

David Spiegel was never able to replicate his findings about metastatic breast cancer. The American Cancer Society and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health say there’s no evidence that meditation or support groups increase survival rates. They can do all sorts of wonderful things, like reducing stress and allowing you to live in the moment instead of worrying about the next scan. I’ve learned, whenever I start to get scared, to do some yoga-type breathing with my eyes closed until I get bored. If I’m bored, I’m not scared, so then I open my eyes again. But I’m not alive today because of deep breathing.

When I began to understand that attitude doesn’t have anything to do with survival, I felt myself coming up out of deep water. I didn’t cause my cancer by having a bad attitude, and I wasn’t going to cure it by having a good one.

And then Coscarelli told me the whole truth about cancer. If you’re ready, I will tell it to you.

Cancer occurs when a group of cells divide in rapid and abnormal ways. Treatments are successful if they interfere with that process.

That’s it, that’s the whole equation.

Everyone with cancer has a different experience, and different beliefs about what will help. I feel strongly that these beliefs should be respected—including the feelings of those who decide not to have any treatment at all. It’s sadism to learn that someone is dangerously ill and to impose upon her your own set of unproven assumptions, especially ones that blame the patient for getting sick in the first place.

That meeting with Anne Coscarelli took place 18 years ago, and never once since then have I worried that my attitude was going to kill me. I’ve had several recurrences, all of them significant, but I’m still here, typing and drinking a Coke and not feeling super upbeat.

Before I left that meeting, I asked her one last question: Maybe I couldn’t think my way out of cancer, but wasn’t it still important to be as good a person as I could be? Wouldn’t that karma improve my odds a little bit?

Coscarelli told me that, over the years, many wonderful and generous women had come to her clinic, and some of them had died very quickly.Yikes. I had to come clean: Not only was I un-wonderful. I was also kind of a bitch.

God love her, she came through with exactly what I needed to hear: “I’ve seen some of the biggest bitches come in, and they’re still alive.”

And that, my friends, was when I had my very first positive thought. I imagined all those bitches getting healthy, and I said to myself, I think I’m going to beat this thing.


The Atlantic

A 19-year-old man faces three months to five years in prison for stealing a horse and trying to hide it in his apartment on the third floor of a residential building.

When police officers in Wejherowo, Poland, received an emergency call about a man trying to lead a horse to the upper floors of a local apartment building, they thought it was a clever prank. However, the person on the other end of the line was not laughing. They insisted that there was a grown horse on the staircase of their building making its way up, and the residents needed police assistance. Police reluctantly sent out a crew to investigate, but they were shocked to find that the caller’s story checked out. There was indeed a full-grown horse being led to the upper floors of the apartment building by a young man who appeared to be arguing with disgruntled neighbors trying to stop him.

“A young man was trying to lead a mare into the stairwell of a multi-family building,” Anetta Potrykus, a spokeswoman from the District Police Headquarters in Wejherowo, told Radio Gdansk.

Officers later learned that the unnamed resident trying to lead the horse into his third-floor apartment had stolen the animal and was trying to conceal it, in case someone came asking about it. He apparently never considered how conspicuous that operation would be, or how he would keep a full-grown mare in his two-bedroom apartment if he managed to get it through the front door.

Police officers estimated the price of the horse at around 15,000 Polish zloti ($3,800). They managed to get the animal back to the owner – who had already reported it stolen – safe and sound.

As for the 19-year-old genius who tried to hide the stolen horse in his apartment, he has been charged with theft and risks spending up to five years behind bars.


Oddity Central

Nigeria's Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro said on Friday he had left the job only weeks after taking the team to the Africa Cup of Nations final.

He made the announcement on X, formerly Twitter, confirming the end of his contract with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

“Yesterday, we concluded our contract with the NFF. It was a pride and honor to coach the Super Eagles. It has been 22 months of immense dedication, sacrifice, emotion, and enormous enthusiasm. We feel a sense of fulfilment,” he wrote.

Peseiro took Nigeria to the Cup of Nations final for the first time since 2013 but they let slip a 1-0 lead against hosts Ivory Coast to go down 2-1 in Abidjan on Feb. 11.

The much-travelled 63-year-old has also managed Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.



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