Some time ago, we blew a collective fuse as a video of an SSS officer wiping the shoes of Interior Minister Abdulrahman Dambazau, went viral. I suspect that most of our outrage rose from recognising ourselves, both in the ingratiating SSS officer and the recumbent minister. Because even the big boss has his own boss, and no small boy is too small to have smaller boys to lord it over.
In a sense, both minister and impromptu shoe shiner suffer from the same Post Autocratic Stress Syndrome: ministers are as likely to debase themselves before their boss as SSS officers are to flog their own citizens like cattle herders driving their animals. In 2012, I said:
‘The Post Autocratic Stress Syndrome explains it to my mind. I am obviously paralleling the well-known Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSDs), which are anxiety disorders that often cause behavioural problems. So soldiers, for instance, could suffer PTSD after leaving a war zone, making them unable to fit properly into normal society.
‘In a similar way, I am suggesting that as a society, we have emerged from three decades of dictatorship with serious problems. Our society’s Post Autocratic Stress Syndrome affects different people in different ways. A politician with a bad case of PASS will play the dictator lording it over his subjects. He will think that ordinary laws do not apply to him, that he is above the constitution.
‘As a governor, he might go a bit mental — try to steal more than the dictators themselves. He will forget he is a servant who is accountable to his employers. Individuals suffering from PASS will meekly accept all manner of humiliations from ‘public servants’. They have a ‘head knowledge’ of their constitutional rights, but they are so psychologically damaged by their lives under the dictators that they have a permanent inferiority complex. They have no heart knowledge of their own authority.
‘It is a whole spectrum of dysfunction and it is possible to locate sufferers on the scale, based on their behaviour. Yet, by focusing on appropriate behaviour, we can also begin to turn things around.’ Interview with Anote Ajeluorou for the Ngr Guardian
Let us take a moment now to locate other PASS Cases in our immediate environments. Recognising the problem is half the problem solved and naming the disease is half the treatment. We don’t have to look for former presidents who lock up hapless staff in their private jails… we can look much closer home.
In a mirror in fact…