Sunday, 17 March 2013

In defense of “My Oga At The Top”


 For goodness sake what is all this hullaballoo about the ‘My Oga at the top’ interview? I have read the many reports and jokes on it, and for the life of me, I still don’t get what is so funny about it that they have to make a national mockery of the man.

Why are Nigerians whipping themselves into a viral frenzy because a senior public official did not know the web address of his organization when asked during an interview?

 I mean, T-Shirts, viral videos, music remixes to mock the man and endlessly harassing his family members online just because he did not instantly provide the web address of his organization? It wasn’t even as if he did not know it at all, at least he mentioned half of it, which actually is the most significant part i.e. www.nscdc. Anyone who seriously needs to check out the website knows Nigerian government official websites usually end in .gov.ng. It is not even as if there is constant electricity to enable one visit websites in Naija.  Last time I was in Nigeria, I couldn’t even make a single blogpost because it took forever for my blog to load!

I think this bullying of this unfortunate man is just hypocrisy on the part of many Nigerians. Some claimed it is not just about him not knowing the web address of his organization, but about him calling his boss “My Oga at the top”?

But really, what is so shocking about a Nigerian calling his ‘oga’ erm… sorry, boss, ‘My Oga at the top’?

Truly, I am baffled by all this melodrama, it seems to me like Nigerians would seize at any opportunity to try and forget the hardships in their life by focusing on inconsequential things. And most times, Nigerians pounce on vulnerable preys to make a meal of, just to forget their own miserable existence.  The famous ‘suffering and smiling’ song of late abami eda, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, comes to mind here.

Ok, let’s look at this again. The man said “My Oga at the top” during a TV interview conducted in Nigeria by Nigerian journalists, for a Nigerian audience. Since when is ‘my oga at the top’ an alien language Naijas do not understand?

Speaking from personal experience, for a decade, I was an Assistant Secretary of the then progressive, respected labour organisation, Nigerian Labour congress. And for about 6 years out of these 10 years, I was Executive Assistant to the then Nigeria Labor Congress president, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who is presently a second term governor of Edo state. Staff members usually call him Pressi or Oga. My late comrade, Olaitan oyerinde, who was his Special Assistant alongside his duty post as International officer of the congress, also used to call him “oga”. Whenever we were discussing him or making his itinerary, we would say things like ‘You know pressi no go like that”, or “Oga dey office?’ Even long after he was elected governor, I still called him Pressi. More than 90% of the staff refers to him as Oga, and that tradition still extends to the present president. Would it really be so shocking if one of the senior staff members in a relaxed interview referred to him as “My Oga”? Would that necessitate a viral online attack and a call that the person be relieved of duties? Would that necessitate being suspended or sacked from duty? Truly Nigerians, I am struggling to understand the rationale behind the attack!

Why is a Nigerian official referring to his boss as “My Oga at the top” now a case of bully and harassment? I recollect that even comrade Adams Oshiomhole used to joke and refer to me as “My Oga” whenever we attend International Trade Union Congress meetings because I was the Chairperson of the ITUC Youth committee and also a Vice president of ITUC. At the international arena, I was his “Oga” and he would say that even during NEC meetings. So what really is the big deal about someone saying “My Oga at the top” on a Nigerian TV interview?

Is it really a case of inefficiency as so many are now touting it to be? Just a few days ago in London, I attended an event where three diplomats from Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana were the plenary speakers. While the representatives of Ghanaian and Kenyan ambassadors answered their questions without much palaver, the Nigerian ambassador representative was busy praising his ‘Oga at the top’ although the question he was asked had nothing to do with praise singing.  When he was called out on his asslicking hypocrisy, he turned very aggressive, which of course is typical Naija behavior to cover ignorance. 

Anyway, that man is still our representative at the Nigerian embassy in London, he was a total disgrace at the event and there are many more like him in power. They are political appointees benefiting from the decaying nature of our rotten democracy.  At least if we wanted to make a case sample of inefficiency by making someone a scapegoat, there are many that would fit the bill. Why go after a man who really has not committed any serious blunder in this particular case?

Also, many Nigerian women refer to their husbands as “My Oga” which is basically an endearing term. I never liked the term “Oga” when used to refer to a partner. I understand the power of language and how subconsciously we start believing and internalizing words which we normalize through everyday use. I have no problem using “Oga” to describe my immediate boss because after all, ‘oga’ in Naija parlance means ‘boss’ in English language.

Also, when Naija men want to take style find out whether you don marry or still dey single, they would say stupid things like “Your Oga dey try o, see as you dey shine” or “How your oga?” Most often than not, I give such people an icy stare that says “How much more stupid can you get”? Trust Naija guys to make retorts like “Rude girl, no wonder you never marry” and /or “who wan marry you sef, you think say I wan toast you?” Lol!
Anyway, not to digress too much, abeg, why una dey hang this man because him no know the full name of his organization’s website and for calling his boss “My Oga”? The irony is that many of those laughing at him can't even construct a flawless sentence in English language, just check out their nefarious comments on facebook, twitter and naija gossip blogs.

Seriously I would be surprised if 85% of senior officials in Nigeria know their organizations’ website address. Abeg, ask the Nigerian ambassador to UK what is the High commissions’ web  address, I’d really be surprised if he got it right. This is not just about public officials, even within the private sectors in Nigeria, the ‘Ogas’ do not bother with the IT section of their organizations, that is why they hire IT personnel mostly young guys (ladies hardly get IT jobs in Nigeria) to design the website and tweet to the world about their services. The real ‘Ogas’ have no time to seat on the internet facebooking, tweeting and posting on websites, they are too busy negotiating contracts and bringing in money to pay salaries. In most cases the first and last time most of them saw their official website was when the smart guy who suggested the website idea to ‘Oga at the top’ got the fat contract to develop the site (but commissioned an IT geek whom he paid a meager sum to do the job) finally showed the oga the finished product, with special focus on ‘Oga’s’ picture in his flowing Agbada and owambe cap, occupying half of the website page.

 Abeg Nigerians, stop your hypocrisy, websites is not that big a deal in Nigeria, especially with the older generation and organizations. The older generation is not obsessed with online usage as the younger generation. This is one reason why most offices have young people managing their IT departments. This does not mean the geeks get to be Head of Public Relations overnight; you leave that to the old guys/gals who have paid their dues and earned their promotions.  Of course I know in Niaja, it is the case of ‘who you sabi’, which is unfortunate, but truly, you do not just come out of school to be H.O.D of a public or even private organization, you’ve got to work through the ranks and garner the necessary experience, and in some cases, kiss some ass. The older generations who have worked and served their way to the top are struggling to fit into this internet age. It does not mean because they do not speak the ‘dot.com’ language or tweet like a bird, they are useless to their motherland.

I know that there are groups whose members do not know their organizations websites name by heart. There are organizations websites that I actually designed myself but whenever I want to send the name out for reference, I counter-check to make sure I have not made any mistake in the name I typed out. So really Nigerians, why are you getting all twisted over this non-issue and making a big deal out of it? Are you so short of fun and laughter in your life that you had to pick on a man to collectively bully and make fun of?

Bullies are basically emotional cowards and one thing I know for sure is that many Nigerians are not just hypocrites they are also emotional cowards. Stop being a bully, just grow up.



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