Those who are familiar with how madness begins to manifest in a person will tell you that no man becomes mad in just one day. Madness follows a sequence. Of course psychiatrists and those who work in the mental health area can easily notice when a patient goes through the stages or sequence. But for ordinary folks like us, we also sometimes notice this sequence more so when the subject is closely related to us. Signs of mental illness may start with the subject being unusually moody which could represent depression or in some cases the subject may become unusually aggressive and hyperactive called hyperactive disorder.
If the subject is subjected to treatment at these early stages, psychiatrists tell us, the mental health can be corrected but if not, the situation could deteriorate. Soon the subject begins to neglect his personal hygiene and then may begin to speak incoherently similar to what is called psychotic disorder. I am told that even at this stage the situation can still be remedied if urgent medical attention is sought and the patient can be persuaded or compelled to take the prescribed medicines. When this is not done, the patient may leave home and begin to walk about aimlessly. Soon he may begin to tear his dresses and could even begin to inflict injuries on himself. At this point, he may be said to have become schizophrenic. Again those who heal mental people tell me that even at this stage something can still be done to save the situation.
But when the subject goes down to removing his clothes completely and arrives at the market place (particularly on Eke or Nkwo market days) the situation is regarded as very grave and at even at this near end stage, there remains a slim chance of reversal. However if the subject finally dances to the music played in the market place by both visible and invisible drummers and singers, the matter is declared hopeless and the madness fully grown . In Igbo it is called “araocha”. Only a miracle can now reverse the madness.
Our country Nigeria has been going through the rites of insanity in the last couple of years and somehow we have failed to take remedial actions to restore the nation to sanity. One of the earliest visible signs came when some guys decided that book was evil (Boko Haram) and then began to attack churches, bombing, killing and maiming innocent civilians. When they were done with churches, especially in Abuja, some parts of the north-central and north eastern Nigeria, they began to attack mosques, kidnap school children and seize large swatches of land, driving the occupants into refugee camps (called IDPs in Nigeria). What is the problem? What do they want? Up till now, nobody can tell for sure. Psychologists and psychiatrists tell me that when people begin to act in bizarre manners and you can not relate their actions to remote or immediate causes, then insanity is a probable diagnosis. Subsequently herdsmen who over the years plied their trade all over Nigeria and moved around with bows, arrows and sticks, then began to move around with automatic AK 47 guns and started murdering people, some in their sleep and others in their farms, the madness took a new turn. Soon some guys called marauders began to invade villages in the Zamfara and later Sokoto areas of the northwest, killing and maiming. When they were asked what the problem was, no answer. And yet, everyday, a new village is invaded and human beings slaughtered. If this is not madness, then what can it be?
Hitherto in the Niger Delta (South South & Parts of the SE) we have seen signs of bipolar disorder- mood swings. Now there is peace and all of a sudden war. Pipelines are broken and oil workers kidnapped, some killed and the flow of crude oil and refined petroleum disrupted. Promises are made and broken and the cycle repeated. Clear manifestations of insanity!
As they say, madness comes in different forms. While we were still wondering how to handle the madness happening in the northeast, north-central, parts of the northwest, manifested in the daily wasting of human lives without any justifiable reasons, and the cyclical eruptions in the Niger Delta, we ran into political madness. Actually the earliest signs were unrecognized until the signs of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) manifested. The APC government moved from anxiety disorder to full blown schizophrenia when Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu became Senate President (SP) and Deputy Senate President (DSP) respectively. They first accused them of forgery and took them to court, then took Saraki to the Code of Conduct Tribunal and when all these did not work, they sent EFCC after them and their families and followed with accusing everybody that opposed the government of murder-Dino Melaye, Shehu Sani, Bukola Saraki and Abdulfatah Ahmed. Which normal government run by normal people will do everything to demonize its 3rd ranking citizen accusing him of corruption, perjury, armed robbery and murder in succession. Very abnormal!
A few weeks ago we woke up to watch drama, the type displayed by the madman on his way to the market. The homes of the SP and DSP were barricaded by security operatives-mainly the DSS and Nigeria Police. For what reason? No one could actually tell. After a while the siege was lifted. The scene then moved to the National Assembly where the ensuing madness was in full display. Senators and Honourable members were dancing like excited school children. Why? Well for the ostensible reason that some of them have crossed carpets, a phenomenon that is becoming normal in Nigeria. This act then stirred the adrenaline in the psychotic nation and the dance in the market place went full blown.
As the world watched our nakedness, eight members of the Benue State House of Assembly out of thirty were given security cover to go and take over the House. They claimed to have impeached the speaker and went on to serve impeachment notice on the Governor of Benue State. As they sat to impose the will of the minority over the majority( 8 vs 22), Nigeria’s police force still under IGP Ibrahim Kpotun Idris and the Department of State Security services (DSS) then under DG Lawal Daura , prevented anybody else including the assembly staff from having access to the premises. When they finished the dance, they were escorted by the security to safety and the House of Assembly shut down. Very abnormal!
As the madness raged, one Senator Akpabio, immediate past PDP Governor of Akwa Ibom State and until very recently the Senate Minority leader jumped into the fray, crossing the carpet against the run of play and apparently against the tide. It takes a good dose of mental abnormality to swim against the tide or commit what a friend called ‘political suicide’. While he was concluding this abnormal mental feat, we took off our clothes and the macabre dance ensued. On Tuesday August 7 2018, the DSS then under DG Lawal Daura took over the premises of the National Assembly and cordoned it off. About 100 DSS operatives wearing masks and fully armed, linked themselves, forming a chain. They refused the legislators and staff of the National Assembly from having access to the chambers and offices. Why? No one could tell correctly. Many voices, similar to that of a madman who hears many voices and does not know which one to follow. One voice said it was to allow the APC Senators effect leadership change, another said it was to embarrass President Buhari, another said it was in support of Senator Saraki and yet another voice said it was to prevent bloodshed! One female legislator, Boma Goodhead who arrived early confronted the DSS guys, looked them on the face and asked them to shoot her. This was a full confirmation of the madness that has befallen our nation. Is it normal for a completely sane person to look at a hooded armed man and dare him to shoot. Madness comes in different forms!
But how come we have allowed this madness to continue to deteriorate by the day? How come we seem to have ignored all the signs? How come we have ignored all the good counsel, recommendations and prescriptions of all the National Conferences & Regional declarations-Pronaco, 2005 National Political Conference, 2014 National Conference, the Southwest Ibadan Declaration, the South-South Asaba declaration, the South east Awka declaration and the middle belt Makurdi declaration? Perhaps dementia has also set in. Let’s then pray fervently for a miracle.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR