When I got information, a few years ago, that people were paid up to 250,000 naira each month by the Buhari administration, to beat the drums of support for the government on Social Media forums, I broke from my traditional habit of dismissing such information with absolute disregard. This is not because I considered the information true. I was just, not surprised enough to call it a gutter gossip. After all, the regime before his did, precisely, the same thing.
In the months and weeks prior to hearing this information, I had had cause to be concerned about many people, who I personally thought, were cerebrally alert and enviable role models for the younger generations when they took to acting strange and suspicious with the positions they took on specific issues affecting either individuals of the Buhari regime or the regime in general. After all, I doubt, anyone will cast aspersions on my person for considering retirees of the news media (print or electronic) as enviable role models. They have worked to shape public opinion over several years in their pre-retirement period.
In one clear example, I remember being taken aback, by how vehemently and viciously one retired Director of a prominent radio station took it upon himself to defend a serving Minister on Social Media, when the minister made a laughing stock of himself speaking the following incorrect English before a House committee: “The funds spended were properly spended”. The need to repair and refix the public image of this Minister that was badly dented in the aftermath of this public speech, saw trolls streaming out in surprising numbers struggling to turn back the impossible tide on Social Media platforms with petrifying zealousness.
Many, who stood out for objective reasoning during the locust days of President Goodluck Jonathan and chastised the teeming number of defensive trolls, who staked all honors and reputation to defend all indefensible traits of that regime, simply turned out as replacements for those they once chastised. They began to bear names like “Core Buharists”, “Buhari’s Amazons”, “Buhari Warriors” while they started representing everything that they, once, logically, and righteously, stood against.
There are those, who bear no title but simply snap at any criticism of Buhari or his regime no matter how justified, transparent, or logical. They would fight tooth and nail, with all vehemence and bitterness in defiance of all rules of rational reasoning to the jaw-dropping amazement of people who knew them in the past. The maxim being that Buhari can do no wrong. Now, when people like retired newspaper editors and other admirable and easily identifiable intellectuals begin to get identified in this category of bootlickers, one begins to understand how much havoc deprivation and moral decay have wreaked on the Nigerian society and psyche. It is also then, that one begins to get immune to doubts that stipends are truly being paid to trolls, who are qualified professionals in their own rights and fields. Naturally, it is beyond proof in the absence of concrete evidence of payment and recipient in real life but the seed of doubt sown by weird and obscure albeit dishonorable behavior by revered intellects, provides enough fuel to sustain the flame of informed suspicion. It matters little if the pay is Naira 250,000 each month or less, but it matters a lot that the possibility is as real as can be.
Yet, the temptation to sustain a standard of living for an aging retiree in Nigeria by accepting stipends of any nature that only requires using the phone or a laptop at casual convenience cannot be an exaggerated lure.
In one widely publicized statement, Nelson Mandela once wondered “…why Nigerians are not much angrier than they are”. Nigerians know this themselves and have long hidden behind the fear of a heartless massacre if they rose to protest the misery at any time in the future. Many intellectuals know the social-psychological consequences of a long-endured state of mass repression to the benefit of a very few usurpers.
They all know that a mass uprising, when it comes spontaneously, is always the equivalent of a free-for-all mob attack with looting, arson, and several forms of lawlessness. The science of Social Psychology has never known it to be any different anywhere. Yet, when the END SARS uprising started, these sellout intellectuals panicked. They panicked not because the uncontrolled mob assault would cause harm to the wider society. No. Deep in them, they seemed to have panicked at anything that posed a threat to the government that they are deeply committed to or should I say, that is deeply committed to them?
These sellout lots did their best to rekindle the age-old trepidation that had tied the suffering masses in a genuflecting pose before their oppressors, by stressing the government’s option of deploying soldiers and their fire power to restore law and order, as a means of dissuading protesters from further demanding their rights. On October 20, 2020, I remember one of them happily and confidently writing a post that something was about to happen. “There will be action soon” was his gleeful comment. After the action happened and souls were lost at the Lekki toll gate, these same simpletons flocked out on Social Media again in a frenzy of unimaginable petulance, telling the world that no soldier was ever deployed to any scene. But today, the flipflop in narratives has told us much better.
Through the years, hunger and deprivation seem to have consolidated and normalized perversion and obscurity in general thinking and thought processes. The higher the level of education, the more stunning it is. Sometime in the early 1980s, the dream of many aspiring scholars in tertiary institutions was to end up graduating from the Nigerian Defense Academy (NDA). Then, it was clear that the fastest route to fame and power was through the military ranks and coup d’etat.
Today, some have found the instrument of forming political parties and jumping into politics as the fastest route to fame and power with all attendant dishonesties. To prepare the way to party formation, they sell their souls and conscience and begin to argue on Social Media in line with handpicked ideas to appeal to every side of the divide in the hope that they would be noticed for subsequent political appointments. They speak from all sides of their mouths and in the end, praise themselves as naturally talented politicians. Of all our ambitious new generation politicians from 2019 till today, only one man, whose name I will not mention, stands out for true commitment and a true sense of purpose. He has been beaten, incarcerated, threatened, and kept on close watch for advocating what everyone knows to be the sole panacea to Nigeria’s deeply rooted malaise – REVOLUTION. Yet, he fights on while his wannabe peers, who form parties on paper still stand trembling and rumbling on the threshold of self-gratification.
Who can imagine the perversion of a nation when a leader mounts the saddle on a promise of integrity and a total war on corruption only to turn his back on the first man, who brought him documentary evidence of budget-padding in the legislature. Yet, people summoned the courage and temerity to throw the baby away with the bathwater questioning the antecedents and integrity of the messenger while conveniently letting the budget-padders off the judicial hook without a single look at the evidence. Mandela genuinely wanted to know “…why Nigerians are not much angrier than they are”. In today’s perverse Nigeria, though, the truth is a lie, and the lie is the truth to many half-baked intellectuals depending on the source that oils their engines.
Not long ago, the nation was rocked by an Oshiomole phenomenon that was spearheaded by a mafia-type conspiracy. Supposedly highly educated and very well informed individuals, amongst whom were also newspaper editors and academics, unbelievably stood up in verbal arms to defend godfatherism under the conjured guise of ‘ungratefulness’ standing all rational processes of logical reasoning on its naked head. They lambasted a sitting Governor for interfering with and blocking the inauguration of enemy legislators assembled by an ex-Governor, who openly sponsored their rebellious agenda with an aim to impeaching the same sitting Governor. These largely compromised but self-acclaimed ‘intellectual wizards’ failed to ask themselves, precisely what an ex-Governor needed to assemble loyalist legislators for when he was no longer in power. Latest at this point, it became a puzzle, how the rich who amassed so much illegal wealth at the expense of the suffering masses also ended up controlling the minds of the few on whom the hope of salvation was supposed to have rested.
How the soul of this nation Nigeria, suddenly ended up being willfully submitted to the vampires on a platter of gold and without resistance is a matter to ponder over.
Imagine the dilemma and disaster of the Niger Delta Development Corporation (NDDC) that was created to accelerate development in the Niger-Delta region. Since high-level revelations unearthed the looting of developmental resources at the NDDC, by none other than the home-grown indigenous leaders, who were supposed to know where the urgencies and exigencies lie, one would think that the folks have woken up from deep hibernation and now know the devils in their bedroom. No. Far from it. They continue beating the drums of restructuring and resource control even after seeing that the same home-grown controllers of the resources are the real kleptocrats.
What do we make of a nation, whose citizens take to the streets to march in support of a presidential candidate thousands of kilometers away from the shores of their own country believing that the continued service of a renown racist and white supremacist, who considers theirs as a ‘shithole country’, will highly serve their proclaimed interest? They held vigils and prayer meetings with brains obviously on a celestial sabbatical. Who the hell placed this curse of mental perversion on a country with potentials?
Then this: A recent Social Media information claims that the Supreme Court-installed Governor of Imo State without a voters’ mandate, has demolished a vast and brand-new hospital complex erected by his predecessor, on whatever claims heaven may hold. This information better not be true. Sooner or later, Mandela will ask from his grave again “…why Nigerians are not much angrier than they are”.
The need for a ‘Revolution Now’ as one of friends has long been advocating, cannot be over-emphasized. Nigeria needs a fundamental reset. Recalibrating the country from the general mindset to physical infrastructure can never be done without a radical REVOLUTION.
Frisky Larr is the author of “Nigeria’s Journalistic Militantism”, “Africa’s Diabolical Entrapment”, “Lost in Democracy” and “A Journey Through Times” (www.FriskyLarr-The-Books.com)