Tunde Odesola

Progress froze in the womb of time. The sand in the hourglass congealed to arrest development. It was February 13, 1976 when the watch stopped ticking clockwise and began whining anti-clockwise. The mounting grime and grease gathered in the past 43 years have formed a cushiony bed of filth wherein maggots, bedbugs, worms, lice and cockroaches multiplied. This bed is the imagery of a country long lost to greed, clannishness, slothfulness and wickedness. On this bed, Nigerians and their subsequent leaders frolicked and relished.

Sleeping on this type of bed comes with an unhealthy price tag called insomnia, and schizophrenia is one of the costs of sleeplessness. Medicine tells me schizophrenia is a long-term mental disorder in which thoughts and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality. The intolerable poverty presently tearing the country apart confirms the years of psychosis that have afflicted our leadership and turned the nation into an adult baby. This is the plight of our Nigeria, a country that never was; never might be.

Even the dead, on the way to their graves, lamented the pestilence which leadership has turned Nigeria into. Everybody knows the problems of Nigeria. Everybody knows that she’s accursed with the vilest of men and women, gallivanting on the corridors of power. Men and women who conform to the minutest of laws in the white man’s land, only to fly back to their sophisticated automobiles at home and grind the masses on the streets and highways, sinking their fangs and talons into the citizenry.

A few weeks to the 2019 general election, the psychosis afflicting our leadership appears worsening, and it’s gradually getting to the masses.I’m not a Muhammadu Buhari fan. In a boxing contest, I won’t root for the President. I rather would cheer the 10-year-old boxing kid sensation from the Lagos slum of Mushin, Raheem Animashaun, who eyes the future with hands raised in pugilist poise and an education that’s unlikely to disentangle him from the cord of poverty. I was impressed by the efforts of Raheem’s dad, Jamiu, who himself a boxer, has taken it as a duty to train Raheem and his five-year-old daughter, Animat, who stung like a bee and floated like a butterfly in a trending online video. Sadly, Jamiu’s fatherhood and coaching of his children will never be like that of Richard Williams, the man who nurtured his children, Venus and Serena, into world tennis champions, utilizing the sports, medical and financial facilities provided with taxpayers’ money by the American government. Jamiu and his promising kids will conveniently be overlooked by the Nigerian system and her nest of vampire leaders, who would rather race to an auto accident spot with cameramen in tow, exhibiting nonexistent kindness, instead of constructing motorable roads to check carnage. Their wives will announce pretentious gifts to newborns on New Year’s day, smiling at the camera, instead of equipping antenatal units. This is our yoke, our woe.

The indicator on the CT scanner monitoring the nation’s health shows that all is not well with the mental health of the political class. Headache, depression, irritability, fatigue, forgetfulness and high blood pressure are some of the disciples of sleeplessness. But a proper diagnosis and management of psychosis could lead to quick recovery. This was the case of the family of five in Bekwarra, Cross River State, who were struck by a queer mental disorder that left the father, mother and three children daily plodding the streets to the horror of a benumbed society. It took the intervention of a National Youth Service Corps member, Progress Oberiko, who uploaded the video of the tattered family online, last October, to attract the attention of the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, who directed the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Calabar, to treat the Bernard Ogar family. Sadly, the authorities of the Bekwarra Local Government Area and the Cross River State Government failed to assist the family six years before Oberiko shone her light of progress on the family. Bernard, a graduate of Mathematics from the University of Calabar, had sired and raised three healthy children on the streets with his wife. Actually, Bernard was the one mentally challenged but his wife stayed on with her fiftyish husband, sharing his delusion with him. If Nigeria had a working health system, medical help would’ve come to the Ogar family from the Bekwarra Local Government Council.

Recovery from psychosis could be quick or slow, depending on diagnosis and treatment. Were it a party with an enviable past, the Peoples Democratic Party would have successfully diagnosed and treated the underachieving All Progressives Congress as a writhing bulldog, whose obituary and internment in February would’ve been a foregone conclusion. Ironically, however, it’s the PDP that’s rolling out the red carpet upon which Buhari might stroll to a second term. Nigerians are gradually waking up from the lethargy imposed by the years of leadership psychosis. They can see the latest hiss-inducing idiocy displayed by that Dinosaur who ought to be forever chained inside a zoo cage. The latest sickly pretence after an eight-day dingdong in Abuja is the stuff that defines full-blown madness. Going by the online criticism the video of the sickening act attracted, many Nigerians seem to be prepared to endure four more years of the APC’s arrogant lethargy rather than suffer eight years of annoying clownishness.

In another bizarre call, the opposition party said Buhari should apologise to the departed ex-President Shehu Shagari, whose tenure was a flip side of the Goodluck Jonathan/Buhari years when corruption became a state policy. Depending on its suitability, the Shagari narrative has been used as a two-edged sword with the opposition, at a time, accusing Buhari of putting Shagari under house arrest after the 1984 coup while he (Buhari) clamped politicians from other ethnic groups into jail. If Buhari had been so benevolent to Shagari in the past, doesn’t the demand for an apology fly in the face of commonsense? Or should millions of Nigerians who celebrated the ouster of the corrupt Shagari regime have their heads examined?

Like the APC, the PDP has nothing refreshing to offer Nigeria. Otherwise, methinks the PDP should by now be bombarding Nigerians with creative solutions to issues like making the executive and legislative arms of government part-time, resource control, security, job creation, economic growth etc. Rather, the PDP and the APC are perpetually locked in infantile tango, without discussing the issues that matter. It’s unfortunate that none of the other presidential candidates can individually muster the clout to upstage either of the two political albatrosses.

The latest form of psychosis in town is the stealing of female panties for money ritual purposes. This new form of madness is prevalent among our youths, who are in contest with politicians over sinful wealth acquisition. Believed to be the pastime of Yahoo boys, stealing of panties isn’t the forte of the young anymore as the old have been caught engaging in the ignoble act. Without defending the merciless act, I submit that the ruthless trend wouldn’t have gained moment among the youth if Nigeria wasn’t a failed state, where grinding beggary has blighted the masses.

Nigerian youths, like Bernard’s wife, are sharing in the delusion of the leadership class. They’ve for so long stayed by the riverside, washing their hands with spittle. They’ve been bedecked with rust while a few not better than them walk on gold. Nigerian youths walk naked in cotton farms.

They go hungry while harvesting crops for a conscienceless leadership but hunger has now opened their eyes to the evil routes to prosperity.

Though my forebears were glorious hunters, who knew the esoteric language of leaves, roots and the deep, I don’t believe ritualism can make panties mint money. But I won’t keep my panties where anyone is going to steal them. Would you?

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