By Tunde Odesola
Again, the book fell from the sleepy hands of Kiko, a PhD student of Addictive Psychiatry. The book, “The Land of Shameless Leaders,” is psychiatry’s grundnorm of psychoanalytic dialectics on greed, deceit, impunity and heartlessness in governance.
Kiko knows he can’t graduate without passing Psychiatry 999, a five-unit course. To pass Psychiatry 999, he must read and understand “The Land of Shameless Leaders.” So, he dragged himself up from the chair and headed for the bathroom, ran a refreshing hot bath and made himself some milkless, sugarless hot coffee. And sleep fled.
“The Land of Shameless Leaders” is a playlet account of real-life experiences in psychiatric behaviors. It’s the product of a research that uses tested behavioral paradigms in establishing chronic leadership failure. Kiko opened the book again to Chapter 1 and began to read. This time, the words lifted up from the book gently, strolling smoothly along his memory lane.
The 202-page book, “The Land of Shameless Leaders,” reads:
When danger is in flight, fear freezes the feet in slow motion. When fear overtakes the mind, the adrenal gland pumps tonnes of hormones into the bloodstream, spreading to all the cells of the body and the heart pounds harder than billows in the diligent hands of an ironsmith.
This particular morning, danger pursued fear inside the Yaba Apa Osi Psychiatric Hospital. The chase was hot and deadly. It wasn’t a chase for the fastest man title in a 100 meters race. It was a chase for dear life. Run or be killed! An armed madman was in pursuit of a fellow inmate of the hospital.
With a raised machete, Rewa pursued Afra, cursing, huffing and sweating. But Afra himself wasn’t a coward, it was just that the weapon was in Rewa’s hand this morning.
In the pandemonium, Duwa sat smugly high up on the branch of a cashew tree, watching his roommates, Rewa and Afra, locked in mortal track-and-kill. He giggled wildly like a tickled monkey as he watched the assailant and the assailed running round the giant culvert girding the base of the cashew tree. He cupped his hand over his right ear, making a frantic imaginary telephone call.
Then the whistle sounded. Both the pursuer and the pursued froze. Duwa quickly jumped down from the tree. It was Mr No-Nonsense, the hospital’s gateman, who had plodded after Rewa and Afra. His 137-kilo body was wrestling with his 4’11’’ height. No-Nonsense rolled to a stop at the foot of the tree, breathing through his mouth, coughing and loudly whooping up phlegm deep down from his lungs, spitting out half, swallowing half. He bent double to catch his breath. When he straightened up, his short but thick hands rained lightning slaps on the three, almost simultaneously. “E no go better for all of una,” he bellowed and coughed even louder.
“Why di two of una dey run about like dog wey im owner loss?” he asked Rewa and Afra. “And you,” pointing at Duwa, “Who you dey call without phone?” “Na Edo I dey call o,” Duwa responded excitedly, adding “I’m trying to settle the fight between the Comeraid and his godson. Comeraid is fighting ADAMantly while his former son is fighting O-berserkly.” “Will you shut your dirty mouth!?” No-Nonsense thundered, and whacked a fisted down Duwa’s head.
No-Nonsense: Siddon for floor, all of una! (They all sat down quietly.)
(It’s curious how the most aggressive mental patients in the hospital fear and obey No-Nonsense. Many believe No-Nonsense is a powerful juju man, whose charms make the mentlaly ill fear and obey him.)
No-Nonsense: Why you dey chase your roommate with a machete? You wan kill am?
Rewa: Yes, I wan kill am!
No-Nonsense: Haba? Why?
Rewa: He talk say when im become President for 2023, im go formulate functional military strategy to eradicate Boko Haram and end terrorism. He say e go sack service chiefs and equip the military. He say im go sack Magun and IG. I come tell am say that go remove chop from the mouths of the redundant big boys. He say im no care. If I no kill am now and he become President, he go change many tins.
No-Nonsense: Many tins like what?
Rewa: Many tins like the agenda for ruga, herdsmen superiority, Islamization, ethnic domination and corruption.
No-Nonsense: Na di tin wey cause wahala dis morning bi dat?
Rewa: No bi only dat. E plenty o. He also talk say im wife and children no go drag gun with bodyguards, Tunde Fulani and relatives. He say as dem drag gun for Abuja last week, stray bullet fit hit oga for head, gbosaaa!
No-Nonsense: E don finish?
Rewa: No o. He also talk say if im become President for 2023, im party go eradicate kidnapping and coronavirus wey dey kill Nigerians left, right and centre; he come accuse Baba Go-Slow and im All Promises Cancelled party of abandoning the people and concentrating on Edo politics while di country dey burn.
No-Nonsense: How dat one come take be ya problem?
Duwa interrupts No-Nonsense in good English: I just finished speaking to His Excellency in Coghi. I inquired about that his commissioner with a misdirected erection.
No-Nonsense: Oh! The one wey dem accuse of beating, and bleating on top of a lady in a hotel?
Duwa: (Switches to pidgin) Yes, His Excellency, Yeye Bailor, don bail am out. Together with oga police, dem don sweep the case under carpet tehteh.
No-Nonsense: Who tell you so?
Duwa: (Switches to good English) It’s only in this hospital that you exercise power over learned people like me, you ordinary gateman. That is the irony of our country, an illiterate lording it over the literate. The blind leading the sighted. The tail wagging the dog. Cows leading herdsmen. The brainless leading the brainy. Expired men in power.
No-Nonsense: Will you shut up!?
Duwa: You don start again; everything na force, na gra-gra. Do you know that the wife of the late rogue general has said that her husband didn’t steal Nigeria’s money?
No-Nonsense: She talk so? Na lukudi di husband swallow?
Duwa: Yes, she said so. Did you hear of the massive riots in Katsina by youths protesting the mass killings, rape and looting plaguing the General’s home state?
No-Nonsense: No state dey safe again o. But im dogs bin don dey wag dem tail, dey talk say ‘Baba don cripple insecurity.’
Duwa: Abi you mean say insecurity and corruption don cripple Baba?
No-Nonsense: Why im come tongue-lash im service chiefs say insecurity don take over di nation?
Afra: (Bursts into laughter) If im service chiefs don fail the nation, why im no kuku sack dem nah? Abi Baba don forget say im still be president ni?
Kiko yawns. He closes the book and his eyes. Sleep returns. He will continue with Act 3 tomorrow. What a book! He begins to think about the three mentally challenged men and the gateman of Yaba Apa Osi Psychiatric Hospital. So, madness has its moments of pristine clarity, he reasons. He shudders at the in-depth knowledge of governance exhibited by the mentally challenged patients. He also contemplates the huge stupidity and calamitous ignorance being peddled daily by men and women who control the levers of governance. He thinks political office seekers should be subjected to mental evaluation before standing for elections. Kiko arrives at the conclusion that many of those at the helms of political affairs are worse than mental patients.
Kiko opens his eyes and admires the orange cover of the epic book again. For the umpteenth time, he reads the title, “The Land of Shameless Leaders.” He nods his head gently.
Written by Tunde Odesola and first published in The PUNCH on Monday, June 22, 2020. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org