In an era where the people of Nigeria live in extraordinary times, and where free-for-all, naked corruption and outright indiscipline are steadily pushing the nation towards the path of political and economic regression, the almost 50 years old independent nation comes under a collective threat, a self induced treat for that matter.
Just take a note of the open fights that are occurring within some Legislatures. In recent times there was the blood bath in the Edo State House of Assembly, and as of a few days ago there are reports of open acts of assault and battering in the federal House of Representative. One sees how some in the leadership are out rightly hijacking billions of naira or millions of dollars for their own personal use. A sum of monies the crook could never completely consume in his or her life time, which makes one wonder if persons’ with an illness like poor impulse control, or what this author presumptively terms “corruptomania”, as well as conditions like anti-social or authoritarian tendencies have roles to play in these ill-defined leadership behaviors?
These men and women by national definition are supposed to represent the conscience of the nation, especially when the legislative or Public House is where good manners, good ways, ethical behavior and positive modeling are supposed to prevail at all times.
Comes then is the major question? What are we doing to reduce these psychological, social, political and economic threats? Psychological screening, testing and evaluation on aspirants and candidates for higher public offices remain vital. A task for Nigerian-based certified doctoral level clinical psychologists and certainly not by psychiatrists who by law are not about the use of psychological instruments for examination, as they are certified mainly in the assessment of the medication needs of a patient. A psychologist with appropriate and African oriented psychological tools and instruments could be put to use to conduct appropriate testing on incoming and current public officials in money and other sensitive positions, especially. However this idea that could vastly reduce the weight of criminal investigations, the load of court cases and help safeguard the national treasury is being vehemently resisted by the some law makers, the power-that-be,the non-progressives especially. This resistance is particularly painful as there are public officials, potentially and realistically that could benefit from these testing as evidenced by the occurring high level of assautive,corruptible and other lawless behaviors marking some of these persons.
So the only simple and quick way to protect the nation from these rotating forms of crises or quandary is through acts of public Protest; a tactic that have worked well, especially in societies that have constitutionally taken to a presidential executive type of democracy.
Nigeria since 1999 has modeled after an executive power-propelled society like, the United States of America. In this type of political system, the presidency along with the legislative authorities and a composition of ministerial powers exercise great power over the lives of the people. So with this type of enormous political power, plus the fact that in Nigeria, some of these public elements are outright power drunk, which then leave the people open to continued pain and sorrow.
Since these elements in the halls of national power exercise so much influence over public and private policies that oversee the entire system of the nation, let us fight them through acts of public protest. Thank God that many of these powerful elements are there by popular vote, even though some came in through corrupt and strange deals.
Nonetheless, they can still be monitored by the collective hands of the people of about 150 million. These collective hands are capable of inducing a quick nonviolent and straight in your face type revolution as already envisioned by a few good natured patriots in and outside the country.
A revolutionary protest is ripe against some of these so called leaders since they are as worse as some with militarily background who once ran the country. God knows that is not what we want again! Some of these civilian power-and-money hungry politicians/officials are under the mask of having come to power through popular votes, election and appointment, therefore portray themselves as non-threatening to the people. No, it a big lie!
Within the context of the mass irregularities that have been going since the early 1990s there is cause to question why the same few power-that-be leaders fight to maintain power to all cost and by any means possible. Even if it takes such means as political kidnapping, political assassination and fermenting student, ethnic and religious agitation, all to the personal benefit of the authority figure. Often this powerful elements, work from behind the door of influence.
The question of why these elements cling to power is appears easy to answer. They are living high on billions and billions of Naira. And above all, Power is sweet, but there are limits especially when the taste becomes all too addictive.
Take for example the current matter of Halliburton bribery scandal with the alleged reports of illegal personal benefits received in form of millions of dollars by some former Head of States and other so-called prominent Nigerians.
It is not unusual to hear about major acts of public crimes amongst Pastors of mega churches, Vice-chancellors of universities, Provosts, Board Heads, Chairman of local councils, State Governors, Federal Ministers, Legislators, Military leaders, Chiefs of police, Education directors, and Bank directors. The least goes on and on.
These special characters have one common description that apparently makes them close minded to the pains and pressures of the people. Here are what could be characteristic of some of them that just make them plain bad people. They love to take orders from the likes of a corrupt corporate head, such as the corrupt “Oyibo” or the White man. Especially the type that sees unstructured oil producing nation like Nigeria as a play ground and as a result seek out the “mumu” or “yeye” leaders, that is, the susceptible Nigerian in power.
These corruption-minded and positioned Nigerians appear to harbor features of marked disregard for legal and moral standards. They are quick to rationalize their mal-conduct; ”I am not the first to dupe Nigeria” They take the pleasure of engaging in acts of deceitfulness. They fear the bringing in of new concepts and ideas, and they love to hold on to the old ways of doing things, just to enable them stay or
return to power.
They see themselves as never wrong but mostly right and they are quick to make enemies and show contempt for those they see as not supportive of their deeds. They ridicule, discriminate and essentially laugh quietly at their perceived enemies, and hate those they fear.
These special characters often pretend to be flawless and tough. In fact and as a rule, they harbor feelings of fear, paranoia and suffer from extreme sensitivity.
They tend to seek superior positions and centers of power, not because they are rooted in intelligence or morality but to either act as a so called leader or simply as a follower to a much more powerful person. They are very happy as long as there is extensive personal gain from the environment they themselves occupy.
These higher up political/economic crooks often project themselves as purists, religious attendees and
public servants. In fact, these special characters feel that they are entitled to be in the seat of power. These economic bandits in some cases want to be worshiped and sought out by those they see as powerless or unfair to them.
They are often individuals who manipulate persons, institutions and communities. They sometimes show spirited engagement to religious houses, and communal localities for the purpose of creating conflict between the opposite entities.
It is difficult for them to walk away from centers of power through retirement, deployment or resignation. To deprive others of economic and political growth they admonish the young adults in order to avoid power shift from themselves. Balance of
power must always revolve around them or those they control, directly or indirectly.
They are never satisfied or content and will continue to give in to self-power even if they have to pathologically ride the nation, bankrupt the people, provoke political crimes, or cause national insecurity for the outside world.
They in fact love to swim in their own image, vision and fantasy, as such holding political office, institutional or corporate directorship becomes highly attractive to some of these persons. Typically, they are very defensive of their ego; as such the act of personal protection becomes paramount when they are in or out of the corridor of power.
So what do we do with these sorts of persons who seek to treat their fellow men and women with a mind set of indifference, motionlessness, dishonesty, back-ward looking and self-serving attitude?
One way for the people to stop being marginalized is through the psychology of protect which could be in form of constant and strategic protest. These protests should be marked with non-violence but must be dramatic in order to draw local, regional, national as well as international attention.
The various levels of protests should be system based so as to attract extensive coverage by the media. Various marches, stands, sit-ins, movements should be strategically carried out in selected places. They must be protests and campaigns permitted by law as long as they are non-violent in practice where ever they are conducted, which should include the homes, schools, , workplaces or other selected places, occupied by the targeted leader or system.
For example, it is not uncommon to see some Schools in Nigeria where pupils or students sit under the tree because of poor classroom conditions. Well spread across the country are public hospitals where there are no gloves for the medical practitioners, and no emergency transportation to bring in patients. There should be a mass protest by poor ailing Nigerians at Airports waiting for that Higher up public official or “Big man/Madam” known to be returning back to the country receiving after medical checkup or treatment outside Nigeria.
Group activists, young adult students, market women, messengers, teachers, health workers could organize dramatic demonstrations around a particular school or hospital as well as by a Ministry of Education or Health.
It is often common for public University students to be out of school due to dispute between facility union and the government. In these periods, students should raise cries, instead of gravitating towards helplessness, or showing interest in cultism, in criminal activity, or seeking visas to go to the Western world. Nigerian parents should carry out mass protest against educational authorities instead of running their children out of the country to attend universities in Ghana, Cuba, Jamaica and other nations.
Nigerian students should put out their spirit of activism through the power of free speech as mandated in the Nigerian (American-look alike) constitution of 1999. They should design mass but peaceful protest, and the focus on such protest should be on political misbehaviors, and about the public breach of civil, educational, or medical stability.
Major peaceful protests should be occurring in front of a Court where a case of corruption is undergoing delay upon delay, especially when a few convictions occur from many of these courts.
Also, mass protest inform of a Million Diasporan March should be organized in Nigeria, at least this December as a warning to some of the ‘at home leaders’ known for their rottenness, and protests of these nature could serve as a sequel to the coming national election—a good one with little hitch.
As long as Nigeria prides itself as a sovereign democracy the law makers, the law enforcement agents and the courts must watch against any employment of unwarranted force towards protesting Nigerians, in order not to provoke violence between the authority and the participants in civil disobedience.
The psychology behind protest allows the people to bring the targeted leader or systems to attention or even yet to a standstill. Protest should be about change through peaceful demonstration against the system and by way of nonviolence fight against the targeted leadership.
Public Protest usually succeeds when it is organized carefully; involve dedicated participants of large scale. Protests are usually a cause of concern to leaders who find wealth and power through ruthless, selfish and corrupt means.
The psychology of the protest should focus of the game of the “bad big man” or “bad big madam” that is, the corrupt powerful individual. A protest should have a leader, a tactic and a method for the purpose of being able to challenge its target and deliver a message.
Protest organizers must work beyond personal gains, and should have confidence, and be success-minded, flexible in their tactics as well as in the message in order to make a win, no matter how small.
The protest style should have its own idiom, expressions, energy and alliances which should be subject to quick shift in order to avoid been stagnant. No sensible Nigerian will disagree that there have been a bad neighborliness, marriage and relationship between the people and the leadership, the corrupt types especially.
It could be that some of these elements could be steeped in various psychological and social and cultural markers and characters as indicated throughout this writing. So no wonder they are continuously being outright disrespectful and non-abiding to the rule of the law. Since they remain resistant to simple aid like psychological screening and cleansing, let’s go for something more in the open—the act of public
At a time when Nigeria is seeking for political directions, let us bring in good governance through the collective power of the people, and let us stop becoming victims of the continue pumps and celebrations of the corrupt leaders as they do these things to keep the people cool and happy, at least on the surface.
As we mark Nigeria’s 50th birthday, let the psychology of mass protest take charge of the minds of children, market women, students, workers, good faith chiefs,open-minded persons in charge, and legal aliens living in Nigeria.
John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D, is a practicing Clinical/Forensic Psychologist and the Interim Associate Dean of Behavioral Science, North Campus, Broward College, Coconut Creek, Florida. firstname.lastname@example.org