It has become commonplace to hear comments such as ‘Nigerians are strong and tough people that will take anything and survive no matter what.’ While that statement attempts to emphasize the obvious strength of the character of the Nigerian Spirit, the daily usage of it in explaining our national amnesia or collective docility to the excesses of those in power and our own uniformed inactivity has become a national insult.
Only recently, Tope Aluko, a former chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party did come out to make damning revelations of electoral malpractices in what has now been termed ‘Ekiti-Gate.’ The euphoria that followed that interview was mindboggling. Twittersphere was agog, Facebook comments were unending, the video enjoyed repeated viewership on YouTube and the entire social media space was buzzing. However, few weeks after the incident, life has returned to normalcy and next to nothing has been heard as regards the allegations. Arrests have barely been made. The case of Tope Aluko is not an isolated one. It follows a long list of saga from the Otedola-Lawal brouhaha to the Halliburton probe; nothing has been heard. Ours is not merely a case of prolonged justice but one of justice raped. It is justice denied in broad-day light. Yet, we the people find a way to move on, buoyed by the patronizing cliché that we are ‘tough people.’
There is nothing tough about making incessant hues and cries on social media and leaving it there. In fact, it is not rocket science to coin motivational and provoking snippets with Jack Dorsey’s Twitter 140 characters. While the social media clearly still has it place in galvanizing change and meaningful progress, it is not an end in itself. That is where a vast majority of Nigerians miss the point. There is something fundamentally wrong with a fame that merely comes from being a social media warlord. Sadly, the unintended consequence of smartphone proliferation is that anyone can amount to some form of stardom by devoting more man-hours and coining ideas with just an internet enabled device. Fame in social media has to be derived from something tangible. Afterall, it has been said and not without reason that anyone can rant or to use a more Nigerian term ‘be a wailing wailer.’
There is something fundamentally inimical about the way we get overtly excited by events and news. If it’s not peering on the lives of Davido and family, or lavishing productive hours fighting a case for Olamide or Don Jazzy, then it is trolling over Linda Ikeji’s Hermes bags or mansion. There is a place for such sensationalism but it becomes disturbing if that is all our national life revolves around.
As Chimamanda Adiche once puts it ‘We are quick to celebrate things.’ Our country is currently in dire need of concrete and tangible socio-economic and political solutions. We need a citizenry that will spend fewer pastime on social media and more hours thinking of how they will better their lives, their community and the nation at large. It is small solutions replicated in different parts of our country that will bring us out of our current national quagmire. All the leadership will do is to provide direction and the enabling environment. We can’t always remain in the safe denial that our life problems are as a result of someone else’s actions or inactions. However justified we might be in saying that. I am not sure future generations will take such alibi.
Finally, we must hold our leaders accountable for their actions beyond mere rhetorics. We must follow through issues to their sane conclusions. We must choose not to move on easily to the next story like nothing happened. And we must realize that the evidence of the toughness of our character is how loud we say ‘Enough is Enough’ and truly mean it.