Smack in the middle of a meeting, I wandered off online on my phone, only to be confronted by the screaming headline: ‘EFCC Chairman Slumps at Aso Rock’. Of course I clicked on the link, worried about the relatively newly-minted boss of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa. The report said he was rushed out of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, two days ago on Thursday, after slumping while he delivered a goodwill message at the National Identity Day celebration. While talking about a man the EFCC recently arrested in Ibadan with 116 SIM cards, he suddenly stopped speaking, woozy to the point that he had to be assisted to his seat. Later on, much to my relief, updates from the event’s MC announced that the Bawa’s condition was stable.
But the question begs: Why on earth would a young, strong, vibrant professional like Bawa collapse? The possible reasons are many, with some of them maybe medical. Before we go further, a little disclaimer: I’m not a medical doctor, or any kind of doctor for that matter. I reached all my conclusions using WebMD.com, which I have to point out is not an advisable alternative to seeing an actual doctor in an actual hospital. And while I’m no conspiracy theorist either, and while the EFCC boss may actually be as fit as a fiddle, there might just be one simple reason he ‘slumped’: exhaustion. As one of the leading reasons why people ‘slump’, it is the most likely reason, and I’ll tell you how I reached that conclusion.
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The corruption cases on our horizon are legion, with many of them being high-profile ones. Bawa has shown himself not to be – for now at least – showy or PR-hungry, which suggests that he is someone who internalises a lot. Such people cope with stress by working harder, and – you guessed it – getting more stressed.
Let us also not forget the proverbial elephant in the room: pressure. Different kinds of pressure, too. There is pressure to succeed from cobweb-brained ageists who wave his youth at him like it’s an impediment, rather than the advantage it presents. There is pressure to nab some of the highest-profile corruption cases in the land, involving a wide variety of characters ranging from powerful politicians to business titans. Let us also not forget the rise and rise of cybercrimes like hacking, and the hilariously named Yahoo-Yahoo, as well as seemingly humble government officials with stupendous mega-digit bank accounts they can’t justify. Just these aforementioned items are enough to give even Colossus himself pause.
I would like to apologise to Nigerians who believe in ‘jazz’, for the fact that it cannot even be the multiple-SIM card-holding fraudster whose arrest Bawa was talking about that remotely caused him to collapse. No laws of physics – or chemistry for that matter – support that superstition. And frankly, it’s a silly notion to harbour. But I digress. Let me start with the meaning of exhaustion, described to be a state of extreme physical or mental tiredness. The synonyms, too, are pretty interesting: Extreme tiredness, overtiredness, fatigue, weariness, et cetera. Now, add this to the Herculean task of heading Nigeria’s main anti-corruption body, and your arithmetic will be complete.
One does not need to be Einstein to reach the conclusion that the fight against corruption in Nigeria is such a mammoth affair that Bawa’s body simply responded, naturally, to all the internal and external drama surrounding his daunting mission. In the final analysis, it goes without saying that the EFCC boss needs to go for a battery of comprehensive medical tests to rule out anything other than the sheer exhaustion that comes with his job. I wish him good health, more energy, and zero slumping incidents for the rest of his career, and indeed the rest of his life.
In closing, I want to point out that slumping is the forte of criminals on trial who deploy all kinds of shenanigans to sway public sympathy in their favour, and distract judges into pity. I don’t have space to list all of them, because they are legion. So while I’m on the side of angels on this, and you have my sympathy for many reasons Oga Bawa, please get up, dust yourself off, and soldier on. And please, let’s leave the slumping to the criminals, OK? We need today – more than any other day before – for any and every person fighting the good fight in Nigeria to succeed.