Opinion: Nigerians are victims Of Stockholm Syndrome, we just don’t know

People walk past a campaign billboard as Nigerians await the result of the Presidential election in Lagos [REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja]
  • Nigeria is the architect of her people’s problems and unless there is a nationwide citizen revolution, the status quo will not change.
  • Nigerians are victims of Stockholm Syndrome and that means they have invested deep feelings and trust in a captor—the leaders.
  • The truth has to be said about what is really going on and the earlier it is said, the better for us all.

Just to be sure nobody is unclear about what it means, Stockholm Syndrome is the feeling of trust or affection felt in many cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim towards a captor. It is a condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity.

In clearer terms, when I say Nigerians are victims of Stockholm Syndrome, I mean that they have invested deep feelings and trust in a captor—the leaders. Nigerians have become hostages and formed a psychological alliance with government officials just to survive.

After all, if you are not for them, you are against them. And if you go against them, you become like Funsho Williams, MKO Abiola, etc. — dead.

According to Segun Akande, when Nigeria is referred to as the Giant of Africa, it was the expectation that the country would lead from the front and become a template for the stability and success of African nations. Although, these days, it is a confusing phenomenon to think about.

The current leaders—these men, 4 years in, 4 years out— keep showing the people how unkind, brutal, unfair and unworthy they are. But also, year in year out, the citizens do not find escape routes or try to run away from the torture and struggle. Instead, we feel affection towards the torturers. And before you say anything defensive,—‘not saying anything’ is as good as not doing anything. And so, yes, you trust your captor. Knowing he won’t ever let you go, you continue to stay.

Writer, Ahmad Barqawi asked in an article about the Arab’s world Stockholm syndrome that ‘What is it with the Arab World and its morbid infatuation with its own colonizers?’. The same thing can be asked about Nigeria. What is it with Nigerians and their high tolerance and adoration of ‘sufferhead practices’?

How can we break free from the bondage you ask? I ask myself this question too. After all, I am one of the hostages. Consider these things.

1. Recognise and accept

Nigerians have to wake up and accept that we are slaves to these so-called leaders. We are being subdued and punished every day in daylight slavery. We have been subjugated to pain and sorrow and it has eaten us too deep that we no longer see the problem. They could increase the fuel price to 400 per litre and we would continue buying because ‘we no too get choice’ or ‘we no too get mouth’. Well, no. The first step to overcoming this bondage is to recognise the problem and accept that we have been slaves for a long time.

2. Seek help and support

Nigerians need immediate therapy. I don’t mean go to God in prayers because na too much religion go ruin this country last last. I mean therapy. Speaking to a professional —countries who started from the bottom but are going up. These are the therapists we need to engage with. Speaking to friends, family, associates etc. who live in foreign countries and see how their lives are progressing. See the way they come together to cause collective action and change. Therapy no be for mouth, it has to happen by asking questions and seeking help from professionals.

3. Switch off and away from the aggressor

Ignore these people. Stop tweeting about them, stop writing about them in your news. Stop giving attention to old men who just wake up and want to trend over irrelevant news, just because they are politicians. Just like when a child is crying, some mothers advise you to allow them cry; crying doesn’t kill a child. Likewise, lack of attention will not kill Nigerian politicians. Let us move away from them and start talking about other things and other people.

4. Required Communication and Group Meeting

After speaking to people and shutting the aggressors out, we need to come together as Nigerians in our own little groups and find out how we can fight this evil— a general evil. Each group needs a leader who will be in charge of this resolution because e no be small thing o. Unions will now have to start working intentionally to make sure we are armed and ready.

5. Keep Calm

We do not want to blow our cover. We do not want these evil people in the loop of our activities. We stay low until the appointed time.

6. Confront the abuser

Marches, parades, anything that requires communication and confrontation will be done. At this point, only the relentless Nigerians should be involved in the struggle.

7. Fight

With everything we have, Nigerians really have to fight. We have to say a lot of no’s, we have to shut down our offices and our homes. We have to show these people that enough is enough. Ozugo kwanu! Otito! Leave us alone, allow us to fight until you are ready to listen to us and do the needful.

Stephanie Chizoba Odili is a contributor for Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa. She is a novelist, poet, journalist and activist with major interests in women empowerment, gender equality, nation building and humanity. Her mission is to cause significant and positive change in the perception of Nigeria and Africa in the world through her writing and speaking. To make a significant difference in journalism, literature, governance, activism, and charity.


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