WHEN WE SPEAK COLLECTIVELY UNAFRAID OF AN “OGA AT THE TOP”
On Monday, April 28th 2014 I posted on my Facebook timeline (and copied to my Twitter handle) that “something tells me that if half the number of Nigerians on social media, especially those on Facebook and Twitter, will sincerely out of patriotism and humanity speak/write for just one week against some of the ills in Nigeria, some kinda solutions will begin to manifest. There were a lot of reactions and counter-reactions at that time of my posting this.
But what prompted me to write this now is because of a recent encounter I had with one of my “very good” friends “outside of Facebook”. This “real life” friend of mine is an ardent “hater” of Facebook (but he loves to hear Facebook gossips with passion). He approached me and said that someone “powerful” told him that he should advice me to close my Facebook account because I’m beginning to get (negative) attention of “the ogas at the top”. That I have become the talk of “town”; that I’m becoming a “social media nuisance”; that I’m just wasting my time over things I cannot change, things him and I don’t have solutions to; that I’m blah, blah, blah… on Facebook.
At a point I had to ask him to let me respond to his assertion, reminding him that I’m on Facebook not because I love being there but because I have four kids (and counting) and I want a better future for them. I may be wasting my time on Facebook for now but I believe that my kids and those of other Nigerian should have a better future; if perchance one or more of the “ogas at the top” could realize my criticism and sincerely take them in good faith. Moreover, there are bigger “social media critics” than myself, so I don’t think the person that asked him to talk to me was really referring to me.
Before I opened my Facebook account in early 2009, I also used to think that everyone on Facebook kind of has nothing doing and that being on Facebook is just a TOTAL WASTE of time. Later I realize that my generalization of everyone on Facebook as a “TIME WASTER” was somehow wrong. Of course just like in other spheres of life that we have the good; the bad; and the ugly, so it is on Facebook. I have realized that Facebook can be a virus as well as an antivirus depending on the user. Through Facebook I have met remarkable friends who were able to broaden my perspective and views on so many issues in life; majority of whom are older and more experienced than myself.
I have often taken chances and aired my views on issues relating to things that are sometimes not related to my field of specialization. That I know has delighted some of the people that visit and read my Facebook timeline posts. There were also times when what I posted on my timeline got me into “trouble”. That is how life is even when one decides not to be on any of the social media. Getting into “trouble” doesn’t require anyone to be on a social media.
I often write against some of the ills in our society not because I love being a critic or that I don’t know the remedies to the ills I mention. But because it is part of my responsibility as a human being and as part of the society to care to point out to anyone responsible to correct the wrongs/ills I have mentioned. I may not have the power to correct these ills neither could anybody not saddled with the governance of the society. Ours is to point out where the ills are and it’s up to the leadership in the society to remedy the ills. We know that there are times when people will point to us our faults in order for us to correct ourselves. These are people that care about our progress in life I suppose. They constructively criticize us directly or indirectly not because they hate us or what we stand for but because they wish us well. I have always seen the sense in Albert Einstein’s saying that “the world is a dangerous place to live in not because of those who do evil but because of those that sit back and let it (the evil) happen”. Also, there is an adage in Hausa that says “gyara kayanka bai zama sauke muraba ba”. When people in a society decide to keep mute on issues that directly or indirectly affect them because of the fear of being call names then there’s a problem somewhere. This is the instance when “silence is no longer golden”.
I have always wondered how some people think that the citizens of a country can independent of government policies and regulations make meaningful contributions in the society. Of course the progress of any society requires the positive input of both the citizens and the government but the contribution from the government is always more and larger. The citizens will only end up fooling themselves if they feel they can do it alone without the government chipping in by way of formulating and regulating policies and programmes.
Nigeria is where it is right now because of either ineptitude of the government to formulate “citizen-friendly” policies or its inability to properly regulate policies and programmes or both. The citizens have also contributed to the decadence of the nation to its present state by either being a party to the government’s ineptitude and inabilities and/or their silence on glaring negatives impacting on the country. The citizens have also being sycophantic and sometimes amnesic on issues that have negative impact on the country. Tribalism, ethnicity, religious bigotry and what have you have all being problems of this great nation mainly from the citizens. These have clouded the thinking capacity of both the government and citizens to see issues of national interest with the view to correcting the ills in the society.
We cannot develop and progress as a nation as long as we continue to remain silent on the negative actions of the government (and some few individual citizens that are outside the government) for fear of being noticed by “ogas at the top”. A good government is one that listens to its people so that it can be guided on the steps to take in formulating policies and programmes that will ultimately bring about development and progress to the land.
Good people in every generation get hurt whenever they do not point out and alert the authorities on the ills facing the society. They also can get hurt when the authorities do not care to listen to them; worst of all is when the authorities decide to cage them or annihilate them. But a sane society will always have such people who will continue to speak out for the benefit of the present generation and that of the future.
A great Nigerian (who still believes in the potentials of this great nation) once said that “This generation of Nigerians and indeed the future generations have no other country than Nigeria. We must remain here and salvage it together.” I now humbly add that not just “remaining” in Nigeria to salvage it, but we must together also speak against injustice, corruption, lawlessness and all the other forms of ills in the society. And not just on social media but wherever we are chanced and opportune to do so, unafraid of being spotted by any of the “ogas at the top”.