Do You Agree?: 5 Ways To Remain Sane In Nigeria Of Today

(The article was first published in September 2016 but it's even more timely now than then.)

Recent reports suggest that mental illness has been on the increase lately. There has been several cases of suicide reported also in the cities. My mission here is not to lay blames but to prescribe a number of 'research proven' remedies. Feel free to reject anyone you have doubts about its efficacy.

Here are the prescriptions:

1. Stop listening to News: After you were told that Nigeria's economic recession is as a result of activities of militants in the Niger Delta, you tune to the news and another government official says recession is because the past administration stole the country blind. As you were adjusting to that, CBN governor and the Minister of Finance engage themselves over interest rate. One says "we must reduce interest rate to encourage manufacturing" and another blasts, "never, we can't reduce interest rate in this life".

You switch to another station; as if you have not had enough, a state governor will begin to teach the federal government how to run the economy even when he cannot pay workers salaries in his state. Ignore him and move from that channel to the next, ehn, now you have landed in real confusion. A debate is raging over the identity of the blood suckers that just massacred innocent, unarmed farmers in Benue and Enugu states. The issue here is that the security agencies say they are herdsmen, but a prominent leader from the north argues that they are not Fulani. As you wonder whether that was why government has been sleeping on the matter, there is a breaking story: "Soldiers kill 7 Biafra agitators in a praying ground".

Ok, the herdsmen are not Fulani and so could not be stopped but these other ones are known, though not armed, do not have rights to life and must be annihilated. Help yourself, don't listen to news. What you do not know won't hurt. Before you lose your mind while struggling to keep a balance with sanity, turn off every source of news.

2. Remove yourself from any interactive social media platform: As soon as you finish reading this article, delete yourself and stay on your own. If you must read, stay on the Bible or the Koran. Communication from there is one sided and so you are safe from some senseless debates and argument.

You can imagine one insisting on the payment of the now illusive N5,000 stipend to the unemployed while at the same time justifying the millions of dollars Madam Pee claimed belongs to her. Or, another accusing ex-President Jonathan of being so divisive prior to the election by visiting almost all the churches in the country; even while giving a different meaning and watering down the nepotistic blood that flows in the veins of Pres. Buhari.

3. If you are bored and must chat with someone, don't be tempted to go on facebook or twitter; instead go and chat with the gateman in your compound. You can learn some new accent which may be useful someday.

4. Don't ask anyone 'how are you doing'? Just say hi or hello and walk away even if the person is an old time friend. Most Nigerians have a lengthy list of woes inflicted on them by the 'harsh economy.' Some of these people had never found life easy but there is now a handy excuse to explain perceived failures. Don't be deceived by the person's previous financial records, things are no longer the same. Before you will be tempted to 'dash' someone your transport fare and walk home in regret, just say hi and keep moving.

This is the best time to claim too busy when a relation or friend wants to discuss how his or her children are faring. It is better you don't listen at all so you won't feel guilty or consider yourself a failure because you couldn't help a brother. Be polite in shutting out the conversation for you are most likely to be told to assist in the payment of school fees. Little would they know that you will soon be out of social media because topping up data on your phone with N1,000 has become an extreme luxury.

5. If you happen to walk into a conversation on state of the nation, claim to be dumb. You better don't say a word as any view you have will get you bashed. Ignore this if you won't mind the title "Wailing Wailer" or "Hailing Hailer". This could hurt you badly since you may not find a justifiable reason why someone should give you a tag. Or haven't you noticed that Nigerians are so divided that most issue are weighed on the balance of ethno-religious affiliation.

Don't urge decorum or civility while such conversations are going on. Well, since you are dumb, how can you? It is fashionable to insult and curse leaders, past and present. Yes, it nourishes the mind of the very strong nowadays to wish death to those they do not share same political views with. Attempting to stop or admonish them suggests you want them to die of kwashiorkor.

That will be all for now.

Odogwu nwafor Igbo, Uzonna Ononye wrote this.

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