Friday, August 25, 2017

A Letter to Olabode Animasaun by Liborous Oshoma Gcfr.

I thank you for your views, expressed on my wall, on my perception about the affairs of our dear nation Nigeria. Kindly permit me to respond here, as the write-up is too lengthy to be included as comments on your essay/message or advice.

After my compulsory national assignment with NYSC, I had the rare privilege of traveling to London. Day and night, I was consistently torn between two conflicting decisions, should I stay put like a lot of other Nigerians and kids from the home of our political leaders, and continue to enjoy the sweat and labour of other political leaders or come back home to the hardship of my country?

Apart from that, I had a lot of questions burning my young mind. Why and how did we as a nation drop the ball in terms of democracy and development? Why is there so much illiteracy in my country compared to the UK, in-spite of the fact that Pa. Awolowo and Prof. Ambrose Alli gave some of us free and qualitative education? Many questions you would say, but fewer answers.

Despite the certainty of my future in the environment I was, I was encouraged by the courage of the like of Chief Gani Fawehinmi and others, the doggedness of the likes of Chima Ubani and co not to mention the knowledge and frankness of youths like Festus Keyamo anytime he was privileged to speak on national issues. I decided to come back to Nigeria and contribute my quota.

As if God was driving me towards a calling, in my first month with the law firm of Fred Agbaje and Co, a young journalist, doubling also as a cameraman by name, Ayodele Ezekiel Ozugbakun came to the office to interview my boss, Barr. Fred Agbaje of blessed memory. Fred wasn't around, but the journalist insisted he must speak to a lawyer, unfortunately not even the senior lawyers in chambers were willing to speak to him for fear of harassment by security forces or government. He then asked me if he could interview me and I obliged him. After the interview, he was so happy with my contributions that he pleaded with me to be a panelist on his live program "Editors Forum" showing on Galaxy TV every Saturday. I told him that my goal was to be a lecturer and help educate the teaming loads of uneducated minds I was seeing everywhere in Nigeria and not to be guesting every Saturday on a talk show on TV. He assured me that the easiest way I could help shape the opinion of followers in Nigeria was through TV and that I shouldn't underrate the ability of the average Nigerian. I thank God today that I listened to him then, AY I salute you.

From that time till date I have been able to educate much more people than I could ever have imagined. I have seen a civil society united against a corrupt government and defeated it, I have monitored elections, I have been a mentor to so many, I have seen illiteracy and ignorance at its highest, I have also seen hitherto confused minds liberated by the compelling power of information, I have been harassed and almost detained by security agencies who later became my friends, I have been prayed for and celebrated by many, I have made many friends and few enemies as a result of my views on issues, I have been criticized insulted and disagreed with either privately or publicly, but I have and will never return insult for insults because it's your right to disagree and the approach is entirely at your discretion, but I believe also, like my friend Udeme in the Guinness advert, that I have been true to my dreams. I took out time to narrate the above so you can have the benefit of my intellectual background, as someone that has seen good governance.

Now to the issue of rats. I don't know why I laugh always anytime this issue is raised, not because it's funny, but because it is laughable. This government has made itself and all of us laughing stock not only in the eyes of some discerning minds but in the eyes of the entire world. So my darling brother Animashaun, I also think you should address your displeasure to BBC, South African newspapers and the rest of the global media world, who finds it funny in this age and time of technological advancement that somebody somewhere in Aso Presidential Villa would allow the President's office to degenerate to a level where it becomes a feasting hub for rodents and rats, it's not only shameful, but disgusting, laughable and condemnable, and should be so condemned by every discerning person.

Before the last election and in the course of the last administration, some of us who cascade the national space as a political analyst was the toast of some people, including some of those in government today, who now calls us names for daring to criticize them or their God.

They are afraid, not because we no longer speak the truth to authority but because they know the potency of information and the new media space as we all used it effectively to educate the plebeians and the talakawas, you referred to in your post, against the last administration on the need for a political change as the impunity in the then government of GEJ was getting out of hand. That education led to the "change" government of today. But rather than the government changing as promised, what we are seeing is gross incompetence and arrogance displayed with ignominy. And the some of the people at the receiving end of this outrageous display of irresponsibility are busy defending the government and calling those that dare to ask questions names. Why won't the ignorance persist?
It is your right to disagree and even call me names, same way supporters of the previous government called some of us names, but one thing is certain, the popularity of this government is waning by the day as a result of the gross ineptitude around Mr. President. GEJ had similar problems and when we pointed it out then, either through satirical comments or frontal criticism, the government would unleash their media attack dogs, who were urging them to continue, on us. But at the end, the 2015 election results told the story.

Today this government is towing even a worse part and if they don't put their acts together so soon, the political dew of life might drown them even before 2019. All through history, no nation has had freedom, either in terms of good governance or respect for people's rights, thrust on its lap. Eternal vigilance is the price you pay for freedom. The fact that you voted a man into office on the basis of his promises should not stop you from urging him, either through constructive criticism or reminders, to fulfill the promises or pact made during elections. Making excuses for either his ineptitude and/or the consistent failure of those around him will spell his doom.

Like the great philosopher Aristotle once said, He who knows and knows that he know is a king, follow him; he who does not know, but knows that he does not know, is a wise man, teach him; but he who does not know and does not know that he does not know is a fool and will end in ignorance" that is why I chose knowledge over and above wealth. On the issue of joining hands with you and the fact that those on social media don't vote, please don't fall for that old cliche as it's now obsolete, outdated and confined to the dustbin of history.

Take it or leave it, the social media has taken over as the new media space and everybody, including your almajiris, real and unreal Nigerians are all on it now. In fact it might surprise you to know that my old uncle in the village is on Facebook and WhatsApp. So for that little information you throw out there on social media, it has the capacity of permanence and travels farther than your radio and TV which are not only immediate but limited in space and reach.

And using the social media effectively, Nigerians both in the hinterlands and in diaspora have been able to communicate and update one another on the goings of not only this government, but general events around the world. That is why even the government that is struggling to occupy the social media space, using various media groups is trying to obfuscate the same social media, using hate speech as a yardstick.

Conclusively, permit me to say that our problem is not that of leadership but followership as our leaders are drown from amongst the followers (us) and we can achieve more mileage not by all rushing into government, but by helping to educate and restructure the mind of our followers who are silent in the face of everything wrong. Need I tell you that our intervention is achieving the desired education of the mind and shaping opinions which are why the awareness is massive now than ever before. Just check the number of people on social media and the information traffic.

Finally, we all can't be in government, some of us will remain as the compass to consistently point government to a better direction and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari needs such compass now more than ever before. And like Gov. El Rufai of Kaduna State (APC Governor) said to Buhari on Channels TV when he returned, it is time to rejig his government and move twice faster than before so as not to completely disappoint his remaining supporters.

Just an aside, don't you wonder why those of us criticizing the federal government are the same people praising the government of Ambode and El Rufai? Food for thought.
God bless you and God Bless Nigeria 
I remain Liborous Imoudu Micheal the son of Joseph Yakubu Edebeli Oshoma JP

He's a writer, political analyst and the Principal Partner at Liborous Oshoma Chambers.