Nigeria: Exhibiting Mentality of the Abused

by Michael Oluwagbemi II

I remember reading an article online in the early part of the year about an abused woman; in vivid details, the author who was on a visit to an Island nation described her encounter with a woman suffering from abuse. The pain and the missed opportunities, the self pity and after it all the smiling and complicity of silence of the abused as well as the contrived cooption of the onlooker – in this case the author – in the process of abuse, the psychology of the abused and ultimately the guilt of being unable (real or perceived)to resist abuse. As usual a plethora of commentators weighed in afterwards. Many pitied the woman, others denounced the beast called man she was married to, many others offered a crying shoulder, a helping hand and in many cases very “useful” or “useless” advices especially as you begin to realize that the author of the article was only reflecting an observed incidence and at best was a peripheral participant in the events that took place.

But beyond the emotions displayed in the article, I begun to ask myself specific questions especially as the author and commentators offered useful insights into the psychology of the abuse. Their musings can be summarized as follows: the abused is demoralized, the abused keeps silent, the abuse feels powerless, the abuse refuses to act because of the fear of the unknown, the abuse remains in a complicity of silence, the abused because of the fear of abandoning her children refuses to move on, the abused even starts blaming herself (or himself in certain instances), the abused ultimately smiles and accepts her/his condition as a matter of fact. After going through the list above, I could not but have an impression that instead of us bemoaning the woman on that Island nation, we should rather be bemoaning our fate as abused people of the feudal nation of Nigeria.

Nigeria is our beautiful child, it is our baby, our rulers are the abusers – they have abused our collective psyche over the years with a decadent sense of entitlement. They have elevated corruption to a science; they have elevated debauchery, nepotism and pilfering to a mechanism of governance. To tell you how abused we are as people, instead of spitting at the faces of thieves we organize political committees to install them in our Governor’s mansion to more easily assess the loot with which we are paid paltry cuts in the next round of elections. We organize chieftaincy titles and doctorate degree for minions who should be rather conscripted to the backwaters of the prison yard, and we somehow resign our self with the idiotic statement of “im go better” or “politics is too dirty”. The least educated ones amongst us sit over the affairs of the educated majority, while the superficially educated and unemployed youth is transformed to a council chairman, governor or even better still a mega contractor and godfather. In a country of over 60 million university graduates, we have not managed to produce a head of government that has seen the four walls of a four year college prior to his ascendance to power in forty six years, yet we claim to be a thinking people.

To make matters worse, many of us pretend to abandon our child Nigeria, yet we cannot let go. We sit down in foreign lands and rail abuses on the abusers, while our land is piled, our collective psyche raped and our future mortgaged. When the looters come into town in London and Maryland, what do we do? Ignorantly we congregate in committees to welcome the looters, we offer them rare public relations avenue and we justify such encounters as trying to reconnect to our roots. We sycophantically grant the thieves audience, vie for their attention and even move in crowd and motorcade to welcome their filthy presence in foreign airports. Above all, like the abused we sit back and claim we can do nothing about it while we ply jokes in the web, throw tantrums at each other in ethnic or religious schism. Some fake intellectuals try to analyze our problems using insights and self defeating permutations of ethnicity – which often fail and turn to ethnic warfare that hunts our faltering attempts to look into the mirror that amounts to nothing.

If all of this is not an evidence of the abused, check the most recent trend in public commentary on the web. It is called self pity, self blame and self hate. The in thing now is for commentators to refer to Nigerians as “cowards”, as people who deserve the leadership they got –leaders who are “never do wells”. Often such commentators after pontificating will even end up including themselves in the group of such people befitting of these less than gratifying terms. In the early stages of this abuse, you will expect Nigerians to reply such commentators with defensive insults and removing themselves from these categories. But these days, Nigerian premier commentators just sheepishly accept these labels and even add some more. They all accept like the abused woman that their inaction has led Nigeria to abyss she is today; they blame their condition on themselves instead of their tormentors. They turn hatred that was better translated into actions to dislodge the abuser into a self deprecating whirlwind that soon consumes them into inaction and the same cycle of abuse and hate like yours sincerely is doing now (funny unh? I feel complicit).

But why have Nigerians not simply moved on? Like the abused I described at the beginning of the article the answer is simple. It is because of the fear of the unknown and especially the love of our child: in this case, our country Nigeria. Nigerians cannot divorce Nigeria and her rulers regardless of how much they are abused, neglected and raped and that is why IBB and Buhari still want to be president and they have supporters. We are so soaked in Nigerian politics no matter how physically distant we are from it that sometimes I wonder if those abroad are not even more informed about the daily political melodrama in that jungle called country than the people residing in it. Many Nigerians care less about the politics of their immediate location but are more concerned about the happenings back home which they pontificate about to no end- all talk no action.

Furthermore, like the physically and mentally abused victim in adult relationships, the Nigerian joins the abuser to abuse the child – Nigeria- at the slightest opportunity. From their entry at Murtala Airport they bribe the customs man to enter with contraband goods, they bribe the policeman to drive without license and move into the median dividers on busy Lagos roads. They throw refuse out of their car windows without any modicum of societal responsibility and break every rule in the books with sardonic impunity. What more? They are good bad mouthers of their nation state. Ask a typical Nigeria about her country and you hear five sentences of gloom even to the face of a foreigner and then he/she expect to be treated and regarded well by such onlooker. Like an abused when the she is drawn to the reality of her situation, she gets defensive- does the CNN documentary and the reactions come to mind? Given a chance to even ascend office does not abate the victim and abused complex, as the now increasingly abused Nigerian joins the abuser trying to make up for lost time as an abused. Have you seen an abused woman meting out justice on a wayward child – she does so with impunity- so is the impunity with which Nigeria’s abused citizens rape the treasury when given the slightest opportunity to access the public purse. As such, the cycle of abuse continues.

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jide October 29, 2006 - 3:52 pm


I beg to differ:

we do not have 60 million university graduates in Nigeria.

Where does this figure come from?

What universities did the 60 million attend and when?

What is the current enrollment and graduation rate of graduates in Nigeria?

It is in fact doubtful that 60 million Nigerians are literate.

However, when and if ever Nigeria produces 60 million college grads, it will be a very different society.

Thank you.

Paul Odu (USA) October 28, 2006 - 6:42 pm

You did address the major problem facing the country today, that is, corruption in the highest order. What is really wrong with Nigerians in power if I may ask? Look at all the mansions/properties that are being offered for sales by the EFCC owned by Tafa Balogun, in a country where the poverty rate is over 70%. What in the world is he doing with all those mansions as an individual? To be honest, almost all the present State governors and ministers are having as many mansions/properties in Nigeria and overseas even when they can never give an account of how they acquired them. There is a report made recently by the CBN governor that some governors are forcing him to give them their own share of the country's excess crude oil reserves before they leave office next year, even when most of them are still under investigation for corruption. What is the problem with elected Nigerian officials? Who will help the country clean up the system and her corruption infested leaders? It is a sad thing also, to hear the President telling all the corrupt PDP governors to choose one of them to take over from him next year. The question is: what is the faith of the elections coming up next year, and who will help eradicate corruption in that country called Nigeria? Nigerian is a country without hope and future if the criminals and corrupt elements continue to run the affairs of the country.

Reply October 28, 2006 - 5:27 am

You write so eloquently about what ails the nation and it's people, but what action follows this article. What will you do? How will you help?

You don't have to begin a new movement. YOu can join a grassroots group that is already in existence and help it make a difference for Nigeria.


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