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My oga at the top syndrome (1)

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IF you are a follower of the ever busy and vibrant Nigerian social media scene, you would not have missed this My oga at the top saga. It is as hilarious as it is a pathetic commentary on the general sorry situation of our homegrown human resources these days.

I recommend that you log into any of your favourite social media platforms and see for yourself, in case you have not already done so.

However, it is my journalistic duty to summarise it since I have chosen it as a topic of discussion. The Lagos State Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) Mr. Shem Obafaiye put in an appearance at the Channels Television studios in their Sunrise Daily programme recently. Part of the issues he discussed with his interviewers: Chamberlain Usoh, Nneota Egbe and Maupe Ogun, was the use of his agency’s website by fraudsters to scam unsuspecting job seekers. Obafaiye, a very demonstrative speaker, assured that once it was proved criminals were performing such unholy acts the website would be removed. When asked to name the website, the man fell into the dilemma that now has the whole world reeling with laughter.

“I cannot categorically tell you now. The one that we are going to make use of is going to be made known by my oga at the top…yes…I can’t announce one now and the oga says it’s another one that we are going to use”.

Pressed further: “Hmmm, the website is, excuse me, my oga at the top”, he said, pointing his right digitus secundus (index finger) sky high, “knows the website. My oga at the top is working on the website and I don’t have them”.

Not satisfied, the interviewers reframed the question and launched it again. Then came the final clanger: “ww.nscdc. that’s all”. This has now been voted the most popular Youtube video from Nigeria! Actually, the correct website address of the NSCDC is: “www.nscdc.gov.ng”.

Overnight, Obafaiye became a celebrity for the wrong reasons. T-shirts bearing my oga at the top with his image were printed and they sold like hot cakes. In fact, many songs have been created by vigilant musicians. The one I found most alluring was done by Maleke. But by far the most side-splitting “re-mix” of this my oga at the top was created by one AmeborTalk.com. It features Obafaiye as a rapper, gesticulating and demonstrating in tune to an accompanying beat. The viral popularity of the Shem Obafaiye outing reminds me of another, more ennobling episode that took place while I reported the US presidential elections in New York last year.

David Axlerod, Democratic Party
presidential candidate, Barack Obama’s Campaign Adviser, had boasted on MSNBC that he would shave his moustache of forty years in public if the president lost the Pennsylvania vote. When the president won there, he came back to pledge to shave it if the public was ready to raise a million dollars to assist people suffering from epilepsy. His daughter suffers from the disease.

The amount was surpassed even as he spoke on TV. Some of the donors included President Obama and maverick billionaire Donald Trump, who campaigned against his candidacy. Axelrod’s wife, Susan, accompanied him to the MSNBC’s popular Morning Joe programme to witness the momentous shaving of the moustache on live television. That event not only raised funds for charity but it also brought the president and his sworn ideological enemies together. Such is the power of the social media in today’s world and it pays to be careful what you say or do if you are a public officer or celebrity of any reckoning.

Elevated position

The tragedy of Obafaiye’s outing is obvious. Here is the Sector Commandant of NSCDC, whose elevated position is akin to State Commissioner of Police or Sector Commander of the Federal Roads Safety Commission (FRSC) or State equivalent of the Department of State Security (DSS). He is unable to communicate in official language, freely mixing vernacular/pidgin (oga for boss) with English and demonstrating a sickening ignorance of computer/information and communications technology.

If you dig into his curriculum vitae, it is very likely that Obafaiye has chains of degrees up to, perhaps, Master of Arts (M.A) or Master of Science (M.Sc) He might even be a very effective and brave field officer, but within a couple of minutes he shot down everything including the reputation of his organisation, which led to unconfirmed speculations that he has been sacked.

We will continue this discussion next time, focusing on how our educational system has come to breed what I call “unemployable and unhelp-able” university graduates. I have a letter you should read. Catch you.

Maku, it is University of Nigeria!

WHILE briefing State House correspondents last week Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council meeting, Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, referred to the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, (UNTH) Enugu as “University of Nsukka…”.

We, the Lions, take severe exceptions this. The first indigenous university was created to honour this nation and emphasise Nigeria first before the rest. This was the noble ideology of the Great Zik of Africa and his political movement, the National Council for Nigerian Citizens (NCNC). It was founded in 1955 and officially opened for academic studies on October 7th 1960, shortly after Nigeria gained independence.

Other universities that came LATER were named after regional leaders, individuals and cities. Their products, over the years, have tried to drag UNN to their level by referring to it as “University of Nsukka”. One of them included former Education Minister, Professor Jibril Aminu, who argued that a university that played a leading role in the Biafra War should not bear the name of Nigeria.

Their antics failed and always will. Maku’s case had to be immediately challenged because being the Minister of Information and a veteran journalist he owes it a duty to call institutions and personalities by their correct names. Maku should not be part of the political mischief and sabotage against the identity, dignity and vision of the University of Nigeria (UNN).

 

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