Stranded and alone,” Like my name, I remember this 14 September 1974 newspaper headline any day my mind revisits my days on the LAGOS WEEKEND newspaper. The Lagos Weekend sold an average of 250,000 (eyes 300, 000) copies every Friday. It was about the second biggest sale in the stable of the Daily Times newspaper group, after the Sunday Times, edited by Mrs. Gbolabo Ogunsanwo which must have hit or surpassed the 400,000 or 500,000 mark. These figures should make many of today’s editors green with envy. For it is doubtful if all their daily sale put together exceed 250,000 copies. Yet we have a bigger literate and reading public with more money in the pocket than did the information consumers of those days. Radio, television and the social media may have a hand in this retrogression, no doubt. I believe, however, that the biggest trouble, as Taiwo Obe never tires of saying, is that the journals of today have no firm roots in the market places and, so, are disconnected from the reading public, like fish with no water to swim in.
This is not a day to debate why some newspapers are thriving while others are collapsing.
Last Saturday’s Presidential election merely reminded me that success has many fathers, and failure, no father, of the loneliness and depression which may have enveloped not only President Ebele Jonathan and his garrulous wife, Patience, but of many aides and kinsmen who loyally stood by them, and the flight of those fair-weather ones who merely hid under the Presidential canopy to fatten their purses.
On 14 September 1974, Mr. Clement Okosun, editor of Lagos Weekend, published his weekly column named THE TIME BEFORE THIS with the said headline, Stranded and Alone. He was one of the many editors I worked with in my formative years as a journalist. The list included Mr. Henry Odukomaiya, Mr. George Okoro, Mr. Sola Oluwole, Mr. Sola Odunfa, Prince Tony Momoh, Mr. Angus Okoli and Mr. Clement Okosun.
Mr. Clement Okosun said he felt “stranded and alone” because, on that day, I left for the university. There were only two of us who produced the Lagos Weekend.
He was editor, I sub-editor. I doubled as reporter, proof-reader and production editor. Yet we had only Monday and Tuesday to assemble the paper, proof-read and okay on Wednesday, print on Thursday and sell on Friday. I do not know how Mr. Okosun coped after I left. But from the things he said in that article, I still have no doubt that he experienced pain of the soul from my separation from him. His employment of Stranded and Alone may not entirely fit my construction of it in this column. But I see in the frameworks of both common destabilising elements in a person’s life. Mr. Okosun was so attached to me because I made his editorship so easy for him.
President Jonathan is so attached to power because, through public office, the school boy who had no school shoes and school bag, has become, arguably, one of Nigeria’s wealthiest men. Separation from power must, therefore, bring agony of soul. Mr. Okosun and I had become too attached to each other for him not to feel the pain of my tearing away from him. I may not have felt anything because I was going on adventure and enjoying it. I was later to learn after university, from the experiences of life, that attachment to anything (family, office, work, property, neighborhood, money, power etc), except to ones’ Creator, could be the greatest calamity that could befall a person. It was at this stage of inner experiencing that I began to understand the story of Lot’s wife rendered in the Christian Bible. Many Christians take this story on the face value. Destruction was to befall Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot, a Pius man, was to be spared. He and his family were to flee the town and not look back. In their flight, Lot’s wife remembered the jewelry and other valuables she was leaving behind. She looked back… and immediately became a mould of salt. In my view, this was an allegorical rendition of a story which teaches us not to be attached to anything except our goal, which is the return home to Paradise in the Kingdom the Lord has provided for those people who fulfill the purpose of their creation, namely the perfection of their spirits. No man is appointed a judge over other men in these matters. But all can feel to their fingertips cases or situations of attachment to the wrong things.
In this regard, President Jonathan, should have seen this humiliating defeat coming a long time ago. He was, in my opinion, attached to power. He must have spent about eight years in the corridors of power in his home state before the then President Olusegun Obasanjo fished him out for his project of succession of Musa Shehu Yar A’dua.
Bayelsa deputy governor Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was to succeed his boss, impeached for financial crimes, at Obasanjo’s behest, as the governor, complexed as vice-President of Nigeria to Yar A’dua’s Presidential ticket. The match-making cabal extracted from Jonathan a promise that he would not lift a finger for the Yar A’dua Presidency, considered a northern Nigeria slot, should anything, including death, happen to the sickly Yar A’dua before he completed two terms of four years each. Yar A’dua died two years into the first term and Jonathan jettisoned the pledge, supported by Constitutionalists who puritanically insisted succession had to follow letters and spirit of the Law. Jonathan thus became Acting President. There was uproar in the north then and when Jonathan made a bid for a full four-year term after completing the remainder of Yar A’dua’s first tenure two years. Obasanjo calmed nerves and sold the north a middle-road agreement in which the north would support Jonathan’s 2011 Presidential bid and Jonathan would pave the way for a northern President in 2015. But, again, in 2015, Jonathan broke the agreement and manipulated himself as a sole Presidential candidate in the party’s presidential primaries.
Meanwhile, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, leader of one of the opposition parties and, arguably, political leader of the South-West region, galvanised opposition parties into the All Poeples’ Congress (APC) to produce a northern Presidential candidate in General Muhammed Buhari (rtd), a one-time military strongman of Nigeria who, with only two routine houses and less than N1 million in the bank to his credit, arguably holds Nigeria’s record for the INCORRUPTIBLE MAN or MR INCORRUPTIBLE on the contrary Jonathan did not declare his assets or his wife’s in public.
The Presidential campaign was Nigeria’s fiercest. All the Presidents men who had led or misled him into policies which fattened their estates in the President’s support, even when they knew he could fail against Buhari, urging him to throw or hurl more money at the poverty stricken electorate are now departing from him. Jonathan, afraid and desperate to return to power, hurled and hurled and hurled more money. Encouraging him on were the same people who swallowed the trillions of naira invested in the energy sector with nothing as yet to show for it. They were the same people who got him to borrow trillions of naira to fight the dissident Boko Haram instead of serving of Nigerian’s 774 Local Government Areas, expecting the rag tag army over four years of his tenure to do the job; whereas Nigeria fought a 30th-month civil war with the secessionist Eastern Region and borrowed no single kobo from overseas to fight the war, even when crude oil income was not available to prosecute the war. That cabal got money pumped like water into practically every security project. In the end, It was foreign troops from Nigeria’s neighbours who helped to liberate Nigeria’s lost local government areas. The stolen girls were not found. No one has been prosecuted for treason. And, as someone remarked, “the myth” of Nigeria’s army in Africa was broken. So bad did Nigerian life become under Jonathan that the Naira, the national currency, crashed abysmally. The President’s men kept telling him these were not his handiwork but a global phenomenon. And they kept lining their pockets. Corruption came to such unbelievable head that Ibrahim Babangida, whose military junta was thought to fuel the corruption machine most, said when he compared his days with Jonathan’s, he must pass as a saint before the judges in history.
President Ebele Jonathan promised his party he would not pursue a second tenure ambition. But once he became President in 2011, courtesy of that agreement, he canvassed a constitutional amendment that would replace a four-year term with one of seven years. This, again, was evidence of attachment to power. But he never had his way. Only history and meticulous accountants would be able to ascertain how much money he has flung at voters in this election. I do not see him, in defeat, walking away from office with a broad smile on his face, thankful to the Lord for a wonderful opportunity he has had to be of service to his people. Leaving office grudgingly would mean attachment to office and a forcible tearing away from office by the public will. That would bring nothing but sadness and sadness that may lead the way to depression. President Jonathan would not be alone, downcast and suffering. There would be hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, who would journey in the same train with him. Many of these people would be those followers of Jonathan who clung to him on ethnic and religious grounds irrespective of visible damage he had wrought on the economy or who stood by, believing that another tenure would bring of unlimited access to the treasury. A state of depression which is likely to follow President’s Jonathan’s defeat informs the choice of depression as the subject of this column today. It should offer an opportunity for self-help to everyone who, “stranded and alone,” finds himself or herself in a state of depression….
There are two carpenters who gave me an idea of what the face of depression may look like. The first was to help me knock up wood work in the kitchen. I had known him for many years. He came by money easily because he had many clients who liked the finishing of his job. But he spent money as easily as he earned it, believing the morrow would bring yet another haul. Then one day, he received the shocking news of his life: his younger brother had just built a house and moved in. This carpenter was depressed by the news because he had just been sent out of his single room abode by his landlord and was living in a market stall. For months, he locked up his workshop, and depended on the generosity of his clients to keep body and soul together. I managed to persuade him not to weigh his life on another person’s scale. So, he came to the house for the kitchen job. But he couldn’t summon his nerves to work and left.
The second carpenter came to make ward robes in the rooms. He seemed full of life but wherever he settled to work, he never kept his lips sealed. He was always talking to himself, complaining about how his extended family was fleecing him of money. Mid-day through the wardrobes, I stopped him from coming to the house. For he looked like someone who may knock the hammer and the nail in the wrong place someday.
Besides both men, I have been privileged to observe many people whose bodies do not align with their souls. Some of them talk to no one in particular as they walk along on the highway. In buses, some are physically wide awake but do not hear the conductor call their bus-stop. Some are lethagic and feel like doing nothing in life. Some have no appetite, while some overeat. Some people cannot sleep (insomnia) while some people sleep all day (sleep attack). Some people, especially the young, are easily irritable. Some people loose interest or pleasure in almost all activities, including sex. Some people feel guilty or worthless. Energy loss and fatigue may assail some people. Concentration may be difficult in some cases. In some cases, suicidal or negative thoughts may flourish in the soul. At this level, the patient may be subjected to the receipt of auto suggestions from disembodied but earth-bound souls who seek to manifest their desires in the earthly plane by taking possession of any human body whose blood radiations make them vulnerable for such possession. Orthodox medicine would appear not to be familiar with this terrain orthodox doctors simply put the patient to a prolonged sleep to calm the patient. When the patient falls asleep, the invading disembodied soul finds the body unusable and vacates the scene for a while, to return when the patient is awake. The doctor prescribes another round of sleeping drugs, and the vicious cycle continues. In their own practice, traditional medicine doctors who have a calling in this field merely cast the invader away and the patient normalises. Nutritionally, this can also be achieved by recomposing the blood. To elevate its radiations, particularly with green foods and drinks. The recomposition elevates the blood radiation to the point that it cannot be used by a soul other than the inhabitant of that physical body, that is the patient. In the 1980s, Lagos city witnessed the phenomenon of a bearded man who prowled the metropolis picking insane people in the streets and marching them around all day in a long file. He would buy them razor blades, and they would, with them, cut their hair. Public spirited people donated clothes and money. The once insane people became well. It was unfortunate that the health authorities did not seek to understand his art and integrate it into the hospital health care delivery system. In my understanding, what he did amounted to no more than freeing these once insane people from those entities in the beyond which made them playgrounds of their own pleasures. Many people are subject to auto-suggestion on a middle scale without realising it. People would tell you that something always tells them while on a pedestrian bridge to jump into fast moving traffic below. Sometimes they feel like reaching out for a knife and stabbing themselves. When I teach troubled people how to fight negative auto-suggesting, I let them know that every negative thought they develop is a perversion of a positive thought. When they think negative, they should act the positive end of the continuum. Example, if one has a serious argument with another, and he receives an auto-suggestion to slap or strike that other person, he could turn the table against negativism by telling the other party… oh we need not quarrel over this matter. “I am sorry about everything”. I have found those three words. “I am sorry” a great healing balm in many situations, even when I am in the right. By the time one has become suffused with positive thinking, the negative auto-suggestions decrease in quantum and frequency. In this season of election block and defeat, those minions of darkness who work with negative auto suggestions will be everywhere instigating quarrels, gun duels, and whatever would not make for the peace of the individual and his or her society.
Here are many possible causes of depression. An underlying feature of them all is sadness. All of us are sad at one time or the other. We may be bereaved, in the heat of divorce, have unresolved emotional issues, be under tension and stress, become financially embarrassed, or our hormones may become unbalanced. Besides this, some drugs, especially recreational substances may cause mind havocs. Mood swings do occur, also from low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and high blood sugar.
In the specific case under reference, that is depression arising from election shocks and defeat, politicians and their followers will be imperiled in their health if they do not detach themselves from this event and carry on with their lives. They may become moody, hurtful all day, all night, losing brain chemicals which stabilise the brain. The loss of one of these chemicals, serotonin, has been linked to various states of depression. Depression is a crystal clear word. It means compression or the piling of pressure. The piling is impacted on the mind by forces outside the mind. If forces within the mind cannot match the forces outside, a break down occurs within which rapidly consumes all the nutrient chemicals which keep the brain stable. In the event of these substances not being as rapidly replaced as they are consumed, the brain , too, goes under.