Nigeria has too much baggage which saddens, shames, and depresses an alarming majority of Nigerians. Thankfully, God created us so well that we are capable of making light of heavy-duty situations. But, with more and more Nigerians taking to suicide, the owl is coming home to roost. Since our literati live in denial, it might be hard to sell the argument that rising suicides may in part be a possible function of the wholesale frustration that defines our daily living. Still, because today last week was Nigeria’s 2017 Democracy Day, the window is still open for anyone wishing to exercise the right of free speech!
At the risk of sounding like the cynical pessimist, I would put the question thus: beyond the developing good news (about security and anti-corruption gains), which in any case is dampened by the massive deficit in governments’ overall performance, coupled with the epidemic of suicide, is there any reasonable cause for big cheer in the current democratic exploration? Dwelling on suicide, media reports on Pat Akpan (the Akwa Ibom spinster who killed herself in Lagos three Wednesdays back) jolted me into the realisation that the fatal fad is in Nigeria to stay. Could any of these self-induced deaths so far pass as Hobson’s choice provided by prevalent hardship? And, since the rich also cry, can anything good in Nigeria compel a Nigerian to take own life?
Since Nigerians don’t have the patience and knowhow to undertake research, we must take a break from our Made-in-Nigeria-only hypocrisy and fly in experts to help us understand why suicide is our new normal. After all, during our 2015 elections someone imported a public relations firm to help sell a (local) political party’s 100% local content to a local electorate! Suicide requires such fundamental masterstroke now that World Health Organisation (WHO) has reminded us the phenomenon affects the dead and the living: “Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year and there are many more who attempt suicide. Hence, many millions of people are affected or experience suicide bereavement every year.
“Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds globally. Suicide is a global phenomenon in all regions of the world; in fact, 78% of global suicide occurred in low- and middle-income countries in 2015. Suicide accounted for 1.4% of all deaths worldwide, making it the 17th leading cause of death in 2015 … There are indications that for each adult who died of suicide there may have been more than 20 others attempting (it).”
We get back to WHO presently. Meanwhile, let’s continue our self-diagnosis. What type of pain could cast a deadly spell over you? Is it the ultra-harsh economy or the satanic injustice that goes about on all fours nationwide looking for whom to devour? What about the perceived general failure of government? Are these monumental betrayals peppery enough to convince you to consider surrendering summarily?
For instance, does someone you elected returning after two years to appreciate you, bringing a wheelbarrow as his gratitude token, incense you into deadly depression because you realise you’ve been a mega-mugu all the while? Would you suffer heart failure when a man who swore he was different, a man you believed would forever be pro-people no matter the high office entrusted to him, would you feel better dead than alive when this same man you offered blind trust all along because he flaunted activism-righteousness invites you over and, with a handshake, looking you straight in the eye, personally gifts you a transistor radio as a senatorial thank-you for your vote?
Can these deeply-insulting, present-day Nigerian realities provoke suicide? Could the sight and sounds of a mind-blowing constituency briefing by say, the young Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Onofiok Luke, arouse extreme envy in you? Were you hurt hearing how the 30ish-year old broke the record of political appreciation in Nigeria, when your septuagenarian representative hadn’t come home since 2015? Would the puerile governmental policy somersaults or alleged presence of a Change Cabal that ensures nothing changes at the top torment you to the extent of choosing death?
Please be honest. Back to WHO. It says that untreated depression (or any other mental illness such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia) is the leading cause of suicide. I’m troubled this might transmogrify my Nigeria into a sepulchral country, if we don’t act fast. By the way, who else plays politics with compatriots who died for the country? Rather than hold annual remembrance every May 29, at least as a mark of posthumous honour and eternal appreciation for Nigeria’s Democracy Martyr Numero Uno, Basorun MKO Abiola, wife and company, whose blood watered the freedom we enjoy, we keep running around chasing shadows. Why should I be nationalistic when I can see that the labours and deaths of heroes past are in vain? And, isn’t this memory-insulting politics that we play the chronic reason that our democracy remains in a permanent, depressing, suicidal state?
Next, don’t we see the red flag of full-blown depression in our uncouth political rhetoric, you know, in the tendency by our political class to deploy foul language? Why are our leaders and aspiring leaders so angry and abusive? How on earth can a democrat use curse-words like ‘deaf’, ‘blind’, ‘fools’, or such derogatory phrases as ‘wailing wailers’, ‘fifth columnists’? What rankles even more is the fact that nearly everyone everywhere is guilty of this mannerism. Check out governmental and political statements. Insults peddled by leaders everywhere, even in the media. This mental disorder has led to the loss of our sense of decency, humanity and godliness. We talk and behave insanely. Rather than empathise or pray as sanity counsels, we mock an old man for being ill, and intermittently announce his death!
Clearly, Nigerians are pathetically depressed. We see that in the way leaders talk down on the people, and vice versa. NMA, NOA, NBC, faith-based and health organisations, leaders, village and family heads, parents and teachers and indeed all of us should arise in partnership and shine the light on this matter of urgent national importance. At the end, we would have succeeded in one, stopping our future leaders who have picked up these dirty habits and are spewing them all over the social media and inter-personal communications, sparing not even their seniors and elders; two, healing our people of depression; three, wiping out suicide and four, generally cleaning up and prolonging the life of this suicidal democracy of ours. God bless Nigeria!