THANKFULLY, yet another Nigeria’s season of unreason is safely behind us now. But the marks are fresh, powerful reminders that the servants of society, however mighty, cannot be its masters. I do not intend to rip the scar open. That is the job of the various commissions of enquiry nationwide. So, I’d rather be talking about how that season of unreason impacted our health, especially that of policemen, and how we can erase the health discomfeitures, using herbs and other natural resources.
Please permit me a word or two about Nigeria’s policemen because I am the son of a colonial policeman (7053) and I grew up in police barracks.
My father was an honest policeman who denounced the demobilisation of soldiers into the police force in 1970s. He thought that action, by the Obasanjo Administration, escalated lawlessness and ineffienciency in the police because many of the demobilised soldiers could not read or write and had no formal police training. He was outspoken against bribe taking and misuse of the police. He joined no secret cult and did not bribe his superiors for promotion which were deserved because he had more than 24 certificates of commendation for exceptional service. He was denied promotion several times. Many of his juniors, including the ones he had personally trained, passed him by on the way to the top, but he did not mind. He declined “outside duty” postings which were “incrative” and preferred to be a lecturer at the Advanced Basic Wing of the Police College, Ikeja, Lagos where cadet inspectors and assistant superintendents were trained. “Outside duty beats” can dehumanise any policeman who wishes to perform his duties according to the law. For his bosses may expect him to ransack the society for money which he must send to his superior officers who must also share the cake right up to the top pedestals.
In 1977, a signal came from Force Headquaters to the Police College, Ikeja, that he had been promoted Assistant Superintendent. He took his promotion with a pinch of salt. But the juniors who had become his superiors forced him to accept a small celebration at the officers mess. Another signal came about one month after. It said S.A MUSA, not S.A KUSA was the officer promoted. The commissioner of police sent for him. My father removed the single star he had just been wearing, placed it on the commissioner’s desk, saluted his boss and bade him bye.
He served the police his retirement notice. Inspector-General, M.D. Yusuf, rejected the retirement notice and sent him for a senior police officers’ training in Jos. There, my father received another signal… That all the promotions illegitimately denied him had been restored. I have told this story to show everyone who is seeking the blood of every policeman that there can be law-abiding and society protecting policemen in Nigeria. They are despised and hated by the rotten eggs, and can be denied promotions simply because they like to do their job the way society expects them to do it. Therefore, it is wrong to lump all policemen together in the craving for a pound of flesh. My family saw M.D. Yusuf as one of those exceptional policemen. The police system kept my father down, irrespective of about 24 certificates of commendation for exceptional service since his enlistment in 1945, simply because he refused to bribe his superiors for nomination to courses which may bring promotion. He would also not pass money up the ladder. So, his postings were always tough beats where his life was always at risk.
He was sent to the Olagbegi riot in Owo, where he narrowly escaped death. Although he was an Ijebu with Ijebu tribal marks on his cheeks, he was sent from Abeokuta to Ibadan during the Adelabu roits. In that riot, Ibadan people were killing Ijebu people because they thought Chief Obafemi Awolowo, an Ijebu, masterminded the motor accident in which their son and political leader was killed. All through the riot, my father wore a tear-gas mask on his face to hide his tribal marks. Policing then was different from policing today.
Guns were not fired anyhow. A policeman on riot duty returned to the office to account for every shot fired. So, when my father and his men were encircled by the rioters who bore no arms, all he could do was join them to chant Adelabu’s name as one of his aggrieved supporters. The rioters were happy to see policemen on their side, unknown to them that the policemen were only bidding time for re-enforcement. It was my father’s luck, also, to be posted to the Ibadan taxi drivers riot. Here a stone fired from a caterpault hit him in the corner of one eye. What did the police do after that?
Your guess is as good as mine. I have told the story to show that there could be some belligerent public but not all policemen are wicked policemen.
This season is akin to an imaginary one in which the heavens came down upon the earth and smashed everyone. We can blame this on the good members of a household who did not scream out loud enough when the rotten members were having ants for lunch and dinner; and more suffer sleepless night themselves when their neighbours come down at night with terrible abdominal aches and pains. Like everyone else, I have friends in the police and I have been talking with some of them. They feel shamed by a society that has proven the police have no power on their own.
They are afraid to come out of hibernation to do their job. Many of them are even angry with their employers. Some of these angry ones remind me of my father. They said they were against formation of the special police branch named SARS which became very rotten eggs in the police and against which the Nigerian public quaked last month.
These bitter policemen say they were denied promotions because they did not warm up to the idea of SARS and their lives were threatened by the same society they sought to protect. On the side of the civil society, there is no peace of mind either. There is no police presence anywhere, so the coast is clear for the activities of law breakers, including hoodlums and even armed robbers. How many policemen in uniform are in town these days? It is to risky to do so. There is graveyard peace in the country right now. How to deal with these challenges before they bear bountiful fruits should be the concern of everyone already in their grip.
We all experience anxious moments. That is when we can not figure out what will happen next. We may be disturbed how and when the next meal will come, the landlord’s telephone call, a collapsing relationship or infertility. But whenever the guns are booming around the corner or, violently, the neighbour’s door is being hacked down in the middle of the night, that’s another kettle of fish. Policemen who are sent to disengage those robbers, or who have to flee their offices while hoodlums set them on fire, will not be their normal selves. The heart races faster, overworking it. The breath is more rapid. Can’t this overtask or injure the lungs? Restlessness is a sign of disequilibrium which indicates loss of balance. In this scenario the brain and the mind dis-focus. Insomnia may soon join the fray. The nerves may become tense or mangled by dangerous stress chemicals.
This is sometimes far more serious than anxiety. Constant fear may weaken immunity, cause cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels) damage, provoke intestinal challenges such as ulcer and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), promote infertility, depression, premature aging and even death.
They are poorly paid for the dangerous work they do. We can say no one forces them to sign up for it. On the jobs we freely sign up for do we not often say we would not let the pressure and the hazard kill us? In otherwords, policemen are as human as we. My father told me that, in colonial days, the policeman worked not more than six hours on a beat. His superiors came to “inspect”what he was doing and brought him “dry” ration or illiquid refreshment. He did not pay for his uniform, boots, shoes and even buttons. He lived free in the barracks. At least, once a month, his superiors came on a “barracks inspection”,which was to make the barracks clean and health-friendly. Today, you need an handkerchief if you pass by the “toilet end” of a police barracks. If the policeman is dirty at home, what character do we expect him to impact in the street. It was when I became an adult that I appreciated “barracks inspections”. As a boy, I shined my father’s boots and cleaned the brass buttons on his shirt with Brasso. I starched his khaki shorts until the starch came out on the reverse side of the fabric. Elderly people ironed it until razor-sharp edges formed in front and behind. For The barrack inspections, we scrubbed kitchen and corridor floors. We washed the walls with sponge and detergent solution. The bedsheets on the beds were pure white linen. Commendation certificates were displayed on the walls. My father had about 24 of them.
Then, he was the Sergeant in charge of Block 2, Police Barracks, Iyaganku, Ibadan. “Rags” and “useless” materials were hidden in the bush. All policemen stood in front of their living-room doors in the 27-room two-storey block. Wives and children sat in the sitting-rooms, in their Christmas-best dresses. My father stood guard at the entrance of the corridor which linked Block 1 and Block 2. Suddenly, his voice would ring ou loud enough to be heard by all 27 policemen in Block 2… OooFFICER APPROACHING, ATTEN…before he pronounced TION “ATTENTION” you would hear the sound of the right feet of all 27 men on the concrete floor. The officers would inspect one room after another. There were 17 blocks in the barracks. The kitchens must not be smoky although we cooked with firewood. The pots, too must not be blackened by soot. This culture is gone in the Nigeria Police. Some policemen wear black canvass shoes on their police trousers.
Their uniforms may be dirty or stitched. Some of them are found in street corners buying or smoking weed in uniform, or buying and drinking liquor pack in sachets, hobnobbing with the same so- called hoodlumps who burnt down their offices and patrol cars and stole their arms in the armoury. These bad eggs dragged the police in the mud. You would see them at night, their patrol vans packed in front of brothels, especially the ones where strippers perform on Friday night, waiting to collect protection money for the week.
Their mouths smell alcohol, some of them cigarette odour. Compare such policemen with my father when he was a constable and he alone guarded Ijebu-Ode cemetary against ritualists who came at night to exume fresh corpses for human parts. The public feared policemen in those days. Only one policeman was enough to strike fear in the ritualists. Today, such a policeman may be bought over by law breakers.
Many policemen I speak with are hypertensive and drown medications to keep going… Some take hard drugs to pep up. It would seem today’s officers do not look after their pages the way my father’s superior looked after them in colonial times. Police work was tedious in those days, too, and the pay was small as well. But policemen respected themselves more. For example, my father defied his commissioner’s orders to charge some people to court for wandering. They were suspects in a neighborhood politically opposed to the Premier (as the executive government was called in those days.) They were woken from deep sleep and brought to Iyaganku cCentral Police Station for prosecution in court that morning. For disobeying the orders, the commisioner (name witheld) pushed a pistol into the stomach of my father. He told us he thought his boss would shoot and he would be gone. Maybe he had a rethink, walked backwards to his office, shut the door and got someone else to do the prosecution. If the account of the shooting in Lekki just presented to us by Mr Dapo Olorunyomi’s PREMIUM TIMES (is correct) I have no grounds to disbelieve him because he had always been a thorough journalist, then we must still have police officers who work for politicians like the police commisioner in my father’s days. The following natural prescriptions are for all policemen under stress, whose minds are ruled today by fear and anxiety, who may be unable to sleep well, who are hypertensive, suffer from nervous tension, high blood cholesterol, elevated adrenaline and cortisol blood levels.
Regular Vitamin B complex or Re-line, the ionic, well absorbed formula of B-vitamins; Kava kava; Gingko Biloba; Chamomile; Passion Flower; Gotu Kola; Blue Vervain
Most of these herbs calm the nerves and allow easy sleep. B-vitamins are important during stressful conditions and help to stabilise the nerves.
Gingko Biloba was originally called Maiden Hair because it made the hairs on a woman’s head grow thick, long and unbreakable. Research soon showed it promoted blood circulation to the scalp and brain, improving memory, dismissing dementia and improving brain acuity. It is an indispensable herb for people who do brain work a lot. Policemen are in this category. A policeman in uniform who has to watch out for criminals and arrest them is a ready target for them. He must have eagle eyes and his brain must do a lot of co-ordinating.
Gotu Kola is an ancient Asian herb credited with making its users grow old gracefully. It is believed to do this by ensuring that blood flow reaches the nooks and crannies of the body. Its effect is felt more in the brain which is divided into two hemispheres. One hemisphere is believed in some brain conditions to not co-ordinate properly with the other. Gotu Kola is believed to balance activities in both hemispheres and, in this way, bring equilibrium to brain function. In this regard, it is well recommended to psychiatric patients as well. In addition, this herb is reported to heal forms of nerve damage. Users of the herb, like some studies on it, acknowledge its value as an anti-depressant, anti-stress, anti-anxiety and anti-insomnia.
Hawthorn Berries, Ubiquinol, Leathin, Vitamin E (d-alpha, not dl-alpha tocopherol), Garlic, B6, B12 and Folic Acid formula, Magnesium (Orotate or Ionic Magnesium), Basil c, Cinnamon, Fax Seed Oil.
Is one of the star herbal remedies in elevated blood pressure conditions. The heart is over working. So, allopathic doctors try to prevent this with drugs which force the heart to slow down. But slowing down means enough blood will not reach the various tissues. Hawthorn Berries solves this problem by dilating the arteries of the heart to ensure that it is itself fed with enough blood, oxygen and other nutrients. This herb also improves the mechanical pumping action of the heart. This means the heart can work much more without being too stressed up. Through these activities, Hawthorn Berries may lower blood pressure. There is evidence, too, that it has anti-inflamatory properties, helps to decrease blood fat, a factor which may cause blood vessel blockage and hypertension. Heart failure patients may find a good health companion in this herb.
Ubiquinol is the most bio-active variant of co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10). This is a fatty substance which helps to improve energy production throughout the body. It Is not surprising that the largest deposit of ubiquinol in the body is the heart. Some people have suggested that the first tissue of its prey the lion goes for is the heart…. perhaps because of Ubiquinol. To appreciate this substance, one may search the internet for the work of Dr KARI FOLKERS who has researched it since 1952. Dr Folkers says that when Ubiquinol levels in the heart drops by a small degree, heart troubles begin. Thus, it may help in the treatment of heart failure. Active people such as policemen need healthy hearts! This supplement works beyond the heart to keep the skin young, to energise the reproductive system and, thereby, improve fertility, curb headache, provide energy for work and support cancer therapies. Brain power benefits, too.
Nigeria policemen are perpetually under work pressure which leads to chronic stress. Some of them do not sleep well at night, to the bargain. Thus, they are usually angry, especially when they are challenged by “too know” members of the public. These are citizens who know their rights and wish to assert them. To overcome stress, our policemen often resort to pharmaceutical drugs which leave them worse off. I have seen many of them try to raise their energy levels with energy drinks, unknown to them that the “power house of this drinks is caffeine”, a stressor which rapidly burns off choline and inositol in the brain nerve cells to produce temporary energy and then leave the user worse off afterwards.
Zinc is a wonderful anti-stress agent which also builds immunity among it more than 200 functions in the body. Because B-Complex, especially at higher dosages, is known to also combat stress, one proprietary formula links both together in a product called ANTI-STRESS B WITH ZINC. The power of B Complex is wide ranging. For stress, three of it’s usual eight factors (B6, B12 and Folic Acid) are often spoken of. They disolve Homocysteine, a greasy substance associated with stress and health challenges such as dementia, heart disease and, in some cases, colorectal cancer.