Psychology of the oppressed: The Plateau Political Conundrum

The psychology of the oppressed is a complex and multifaceted topic influenced by a variety of factors, including culture, history, and the specific nature of the oppression they face. To be oppressed means to be subjected to unjust or cruel control, often by a more domineering group, institution, or individual. Oppression can manifest in various forms, such as discrimination, marginalization, or the denial of basic rights and freedoms, leading to the suffering and disadvantage of the oppressed group or individual.
It is surely a complex and multifaceted concept that can be related to social, political, economic, or cultural factors. However, note that this is not another “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” propounded by the Brazilian philosopher, Paulo Freire (1968).
Some people think they can apply impunity, intimidation and oppression to get and do what they want. They can apply emotional, financial, political, tribal, religious siege or whatever form of oppression to achieve certain goals or outcomes.
Impunity, a commonly used term, these days, refers to the exemption from punishment or negative consequences for one’s actions, often in the context of unlawful or wrongful behavior. Individuals who engage in acts with impunity, usually resort to such activities without fear of facing legal, social, or moral repercussions for their actions.
Of course, impunity can be a source of concern in societies where it undermines the rule of law and accountability. The consequences of impunity can be significant and far-reaching. Some of the key effects include: Undermining the Rule of Law, Encouraging lawlessness, Injustice as well as Social and Political Instability. In some cases, impunity can contribute to social and political unrest as people protest against perceived injustice.
Many of these symptoms are beginning to manifest in Plateau state, especially, with recent
conflicting pronouncements by Election Tribunals and the Court of Appeal on same
issues triggering concerns and allegations about departure from judicial precedence,
manipulations, bias, hidden agenda by interest groups within and outside the state
against the popular choices of the voters in the state. The people feel boxed in-between
the truth and falsehood allegedly enabled and aided by the judiciary which is supposed to
be the last hope of the people. Unfortunately, or fortunately the alerts were recently
confirmed and transmitted to our bewildered society by retired Supreme Court Justice
Musa Dattijo Muhammad who, in his valedictory speech, took a swipe at judges for corruption.
The fact that he has not recanted the statement and that nobody from the judiciary
has refuted his claims shows some elements of truth.
Judges must therefore come clean as people would henceforth take judicial
pronouncements with a pinch of salt.

Recent judgements in respect of Election Petitions in Plateau have been likened to a siege. The confusion generated by the judgement on same issues have been mind boggling to not just Plateau people but also outsiders as seen from comments on both traditional and new media.
It is not surprising that protests are ongoing in the state. Hope this will not develop into something else. For any concerned Plateau patriot, this issue, which is capable of consuming the soul of the state, should be seen from the lens of the bigger picture rather than political partisanship.
Many people have described the judgements of the Election Petition Tribunals and the Court of Appeal on Plateau as not just conflicting but a fiasco with citizens suspecting ulterior motives rather than the advancement of justice. This claim could be denied but the Holy Book says that the heart of a man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. The shenanigans resembling political maneuvers, no doubt, call for concern by reasonable citizens of the state.
The Judiciary seems to be hanging on settled issues such as pre-election matters, structure and disobedience to court orders as basis for their conflicting judgements. It is curious that petitioners are neither raising issues on whether the elections were free and fair or not, nor that they were robbed of victory. They are more interested in marketing lack of structure and disobedience to court orders.
From observations, the Panel and the Court of Appeal seem to have swallowed these antics and have embarked on a shopping or fishing expedition for reasons to nail the winners rather than the losers.
Some people also feel that the Judges have turned themselves into “judgement enforcers” for what they call disobedience to a high court judgement. An accusation that has been denied by the party in power in the state. Just imagine that people, who are seen to have won elections, fair and square, are being removed in controversial and conflicting pronouncements despite precedents.
The question on the minds of many people is, why single out only Plateau for such pronouncements?
These are, no doubt, triggers for apprehensions and recourse to survival posture by people who feel oppressed.
A lot of people have fingered some internal and external interest groups as well as arrogant statements made by some figures who have vowed publicly to wrest power by all means (whatever that means) as cause for concern. Citizens sense these actions as oppressive moves and thus the apprehensions.
It should be noted that many oppressed individuals and groups can easily resort to various forms of resistance, such as violent protests, civil disobedience or activism as a way to challenge the oppressor’s power and demand change. It is therefore not surprising that the state has witnessed skirmishes since the pronouncements.
Studies show that these kinds of stuffy situations also tend to promote, not just physical protests but also the emergence of Guerilla intellectualism among those who feel oppressed by the society. A typical example is the prolonged militancy still lingering in the Niger Delta initially fueled by intellectualism.
Though Guerrilla intellectualism is not a widely recognized term, but it is a form of unconventional or underground intellectual activity involving individuals or groups promoting intellectual ideas, discourse, or critical thinking in non-traditional ways, often in response to oppressive or authoritarian regimes.
It may not be accurate to make blanket comparisons or assumptions about the psychological responses of Nigerian minorities and survival instincts. However, it is possible that in some cases, both may exhibit resistance as a response to perceived oppression or marginalization. From all indications, Plateau people view and experience these happenstances as existential threats and are naturally bound to put their survival antennas on alert.

It may be necessary to caution that Plateau citizens, who are already feeling threatened as a people of distinct identities should not be pushed into a situation that they would adopt the Psychology of the oppressed like the people of Tibet, Rohingya in Myanmar, Israel and others. The more reason why the Nigerian society should tread softly on this issue.

Nigerian minority groups have generally experienced various challenges related to political representation and determinism, resource allocation, and cultural identity, which have led to diverse responses. Some of these responses may indeed involve varied forms of resistance, activism, or demands for greater rights and recognition.

It is not surprising that Israel’s approach to its neighbors is often driven by concerns for self-preservation, security and the need to ensure the safety and survival of its people.

Applied generally, many oppressed individuals and groups may engage in various forms of long term resistance, such as protests, civil disobedience, or activism, as a way to challenge the oppressor’s power and demand change.
Oppressed individuals also often experience anger and frustration towards their oppressors, which can manifest as emotional responses or even lead to acts of aggression in some cases.

The Judiciary and the nation, at large, should therefore treat the Plateau political conundrum with caution to nib potential crisis in the bud. While this write-up should not be misconstrued for any support for violence, it should be noted that without justice, the recourse to resistance is eminent.

It is even more painful when people see and know the truth and still go ahead to do the wrong thing. The worse is when the judiciary, which is supposed to be the custodian of truth and justice as well as the last hope of the common man, is seemingly seen to be involved in actions that resemble political gerrymandering. This is, no doubt frustrating, and a recipe for brigandage.
It is therefore urged that judicial officers should, first and foremost, see themselves as custodians and enforcers of equity, justice and fairness to maintain societal peace and tranquility than pandering to pecuniary, political as well as individual and group interests.

Obadiah Tohomdet
A Strategic Communications Consultant and Public Affairs Commentator based in Abuja, Nigeria

count | 315

Psychology of the oppressed: The Plateau Political Conundrum

About The Author
- Studied Mass Communication from the University of Jos. He is a Media Consultant, Journalist, a blogger, public relations practitioner and an advocate for social justice.