By Akin Ojumu

Alzheimer’s disease of a political leader is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks of governance. In most individuals with Alzheimer’s disease of a political leader, symptoms first appear in their mid-60s. Estimates vary, but experts suggest that more than 6 million Nigerian politicians, most of them age 65 or older, may have political dementia caused by Alzheimer’s of a political leader.

Mild Alzheimer’s of a Political Leader
In mild Alzheimer’s disease of a political leader, a person may seem to be healthy but has more and more trouble making sense of the world around him. The realization that something is wrong often comes gradually to the person and the citizens who rely on him for their daily survival and hope for the future.

Problems can include:
  • Memory loss of the past history of the nation
  • Poor judgment leading to bad decisions that is bad for the country
  • Loss of spontaneity and sense of initiative resulting aloofness and sluggishness of governance
  • Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks of governance
  • Repeating questions again and again and again
  • Trouble paying wages of government workers
  • Wandering and getting lost in the weed of policies
  • Losing things or misplacing them in odd places as a result of waste, fraud, and abuse
  • Mood and personality changes resulting insensitivity and lack of empathy
  • Increased anxiety and/or aggression about the perceived political enemies

Moderate Alzheimer’s of a Political Leader
In this stage, more intensive intervention, supervision and care become necessary, which can be difficult and frustrating for the citizens whose daily existence is characterized with misery and whose hope for the future is despondent.

Symptoms may include:
  • Increased memory loss and confusion
  • Inability to learn new things, resistant to change and stuck in his old ways
  • Thinking he oversees a military dictatorship ruled with decrees and forgetting he is a civilian president in a constitutional democracy
  • Difficulty with language and problems with reading speeches, writing, and working with micro and macro-economic numbers
  • Difficulty organizing thoughts and thinking logically about issues
  • Shortened attention span
  • Problems coping with new situations like accepting use of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok as legitimate rights of the citizens
  • Difficulty carrying out multistep tasks, such as figuring out how to get the economy out of recession and depression
  • Problems distinguishing between herdsmen out to slaughter innocent farmers from civil advocates fighting fundament human rights of all citizens
  • Hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia about ordinary citizens exercising their rights to protest
  • Impulsive behavior such as saying dumb and insensitive things at inappropriate times or places or using provocative language
  • Inappropriate outbursts of anger at those who challenge his governing style

Severe Alzheimer’s of a Political Leader
An individual with severe Alzheimer’s of a political leader cannot communicate and is completely dependent on others for their care and direction. Near the end, the person may be in bed most or all of the time as the body shuts down. 

Their symptoms often include:
  • Inability to communicate ideas and thought
  • Weight loss, emaciation, and lifelessness
  • Skin infections and discoloration
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Groaning, moaning, or grunting
  • Increased sleeping
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control

A common cause of political death for individuals with the Alzheimer’s disease of a political leader is electoral aspiration pneumonia as a result of chronic and persistent assault on the economic well-being of the ordinary citizens. This type of pneumonia develops when a person cannot provide visionary and transformative leadership, steady and competent governance, and fail to improve the quality of life the citizens after promising change.

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease of a political leader, though there are electoral and political remedies that can treat the symptoms of the disease.

Adapted from the United States National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health.


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