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Insanity as a way of life in Nigeria


PHOTO: IndianExpress

My intention in this piece is to provoke.

For some context, when the weird but yet prescient one, FelaAnikulapoKuti, released “Beast of no nation” where he sang about craze world in 1986, it was reminiscent of his prison experience when he was jailed for five years on a trumped-up charge and the very judge came to visit him in a prison hospital two years later.

The judge having realized his mistake apologised to Fela and claimed that he was under pressure from the then military government.


According to Fela, how do you describe a country of police brutality, oppression by uniformed men, courts without justice, magistrates who are supposed to uphold the law are seen bending the same law to please some interests? He therefore reasoned that “na craze world we dey”.

What a pity, more than thirty years after he gifted the world with those lines, nothing has changed. That song is as relevant as when the lyrics were written 32 years ago.

The Nigerian society seems to be going down into the precipice. Whereas Fela sang about the character of the government of his days, today, both the government and the governed have practically thrown reasoning and sanity to the dogs.

The dictionary defines insanity as: “the state of being seriously mentally ill; madness; extreme foolishness or irrationality”. Its synonyms include: folly, foolishness, idiocy, stupidity, lunacy, absurdity, etc.

Insanity has become ubiquitous in the Nigerian environment. I am not writing about those men and women with tattered clothes, walking about the streets feasting on the dunghill.

Rather, I am writing on men and women, young and old that you and I relate with every day, in the house, office, worship centres, bus stops and other public places. They have a good sense of fashion but common sense is alien to them. These people appear enlightened but their sense of reasoning has been blighted.

This asinine attitude has permeated every aspect of our being. Where ever you turn, someone is behaving irrationally. Someone is exhibiting a crazy character, and he or she is unapologetic about it. Common sense seems to have bid farewell to the Nigerian state.

Our sense of reasoning is beclouded by tribalism and nepotism. There is insanity everywhere. It manifests in our consciousness and character. There’s a toga of insanity in our national psyche. Among the civil service and the private sector, young and the old, the government and the governed, insanity is real in this clime.

Sometimes, I am quick to shiver if this has not become one of our base cultures. Acts that have surreptitiously become a part of us without realizing it, we have since dubbed them as our culture. We make heroes of people who have stolen our common wealth. We celebrate thieves that live among us and castigate men of ethics who are doing their best to make our society better.

How do you explain the incidence of ladies who spend a lot of time before the mirror to adorn themselves before leaving home, only to be pulling down the “micro mini skirt” at every interval while walking on the road? For such and many in their ilk, fashion has caged their judgement and they have become slaves to fashion and trends.

I am miffed that despite our political consciousness since 1999 we are still where we are politically. Our realisation does not translate to action. We keep on recycling men and women who have been part of government since independence.

Or how could millions of electorates give their votes to a sick septuagenarian in a country full of many young bright minds? This brand of democracy is truly a “demonstration of craze”.

We keep complaining about the ineptitude of our political actors and we do nothing to correct the malady. And when bright minds offer themselves, we are quick to conclude that “they” won’t allow them, that they will not make any difference. We do not give them a chance.

We are stuck and complacent with the same old stock. What a people!

I have watched in disbelief how professors, pastors and technocrats have become toys and tools in the hands of politicians. Rather than become the think tank for politicians and administrators, these professionals have relegated their expertise and mission to the backstage as they become stooges in the hands of their paymasters. They go against the people’s will without any sense of shame and guilt.

We have become so glued to religion and abandoned relationship. We pay lip service to love as reports of ritual killing, rape and abuse have become the main staple on the pages of newspapers.

I have heard many stories and I once watched in dismay how onlookers captured the scene of an accident with their phones rather than assisting the accident victims. I had to cross from the other side of the road to carry the fellow before other persons joined to take the victim to the hospital.

The fear of being implicated by some ‘egunje’ seeking policemen in the event that the victim dies is the reason many Nigerians would rather watch than assist such victims. But honestly, is that enough to regulate our sense of humanity?

When I read of how Nigerian politicians amass wealth and stack it in banks abroad, I wonder the devil that reversed their brain under their feet? Why can’t they re-channel such funds into our own economy? We expect so much where never contributed.

We pursue miracles and set aside the principles behind them. We want to reap where we did not sow. To us, the exception has become the rule just as abnormality has become the norm. That is the sad summary of my dear country.

On several occasions I have been pushed to give up on Nigeria because many people talk and act without clearly thinking of the consequences of their action.

What shall you say of an ambition for a political position being pursued so vigorously without any template, vision or goal for the people you want to lead? Acting without thinking is as crazy as insisting on rights and privileges without thinking of accountability and responsibility.

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