Mobs destroy and scarcely create. Be it as wild savages or unthinking herds, it has always been the preoccupation of the mob to tear down. Take the Nigerian mob for instance; by its impulsiveness, lack of forethought and restraint, want of personal and societal ethics, it expedites the destruction of everything and anything – like an unpopular policy or worn-out civilization. Whether concrete or abstract, hard-wearing or fragile, whatever object or subject becomes the fascination of the Nigerian mob is sooner annihilated.
This devastation persists as a ceaseless cycle and it is amply sustained and accelerated via brutish inclinations that characterize the Nigerian mob. Like primeval savages, the Nigerian mob lives, thinks and acts like creatures of the wild thus its unwritten code of existence: “Every man for himself in our communal jungle where only the strongest survive.”
Who are the Nigerian mob? This question expectedly excites spurious theories, allegations and conclusions about the breed aptly classifiable and identifiable with mob mentality. While many would readily finger the nation’s ruling class and its horde of loyalists, many more would categorize the impoverished breadlines as the core of the Nigerian mob.
In the flurry of generalizations, a certifiable crowd is omitted essentially because it constitutes the cult of self-appointed critics, intellectuals, moralists and the socially aware. This crowd comprises the pedestrian and infinitely tiresome breed of Nigerians who never see anything good about Nigeria; their pastime involves logging on to every social media portal with considerable traffic to continually vent and portray Nigeria as a failed enterprise.
Facebook and Twitter offer wonderful platforms for these interesting breed to say all manner of unprintable things about Nigeria and their fellow Nigerians. Another category of this breed comprises journalists, ‘social commentators’ and newspaper columnists like me. The access we enjoy to means and channels of expression is oftentimes abused by us.
It is alright to criticize but the bulk of what many of us do is classifiable as destructive sentimentality and hate-mongering. Oftentimes, we engage in sanctimonious whining, blame-casting and character assassination for reasons that border on the infantile and shame logic.
The utter lack of gumption and foresight incessantly perpetuated by this breed continually offer court jesters and media attack-mongrels of the ruling class innumerable opportunities to lash out, deploying sophistry, ad hominem and juvenile heckling in responding to critics of the ruling class they serve.
Such characters can treat the Nigerian critic and journalist with contempt given the irresponsibility and mercenariness that characterizes the latter’s criticisms of their principals. Having spent quality time as vocal parts of such crowd, media aides and attack-dogs of the ruling class respond to criticisms from a standpoint of knowledge and towering impatience.
A Special Adviser to the President or a Governor on Media Affairs for instance, can continually afford to treat their principals’ critics with disdain goaded by the notion that the latter lacks the moral justification to perform such crucial roles in the interest of the collective.
True, many a government critic on Facebook, Twitter or newspaper column is as despicable as the ruling class he condemns. Racism, gluttony, political harlotry, religious intolerance, sexism, all manners of bigotry and base sentimentality characterize Nigeria’s crowd of social critics. In several instances, members of this breed cheerily present themselves as muscles to the tyrannical ruling class they love to condemn, for a price.
This breed of Nigerian mob, in its incessant criticisms of the ruling class, conveniently forgets that the incumbent leadership is a reflection of the society from which it emerges. If we are yet to produce honest and conscientious leadership, it’s because our society is constituted by the perverse and corrupt. If bank chiefs, stock exchange bosses and civil servants we parade are more nimble at stealing than performing constructive, developmental roles, it is because the society institutionalizes and celebrates vice. And if the worst of us continually emerge as the best leaders we could ever have, it is because we are innately wired to value and elevate vile above virtue.
Sadly, rather than engage in active crusade against the perpetuation of such anomalies, the critical mob scurry on to soapboxes we mount in our living rooms, courtyards, pubs and social media to curse our luck and curse the times.
We are that pathetic part of the Nigerian mob; negligible integers a cynical reader recently identified as “armchair Trotskys.” Unlike the more servile herd whose allegiance to the ruling class is at once wild and destructive, the breed we comprise is even more vicious and symptomatic of the failure of scholarship, literacy and other contemporary advancements in civilization we ought to epitomize.
At least, the servile herd is actively involved – be it negatively or positively – according to the depth and strength of its awareness; this teeming mass of illiterate, semi-literate, unemployed and impoverished breadlines to mention a few, claim ignorance and poverty as reasons for its blind acquiescence to the tyranny of the ruling class, however, career critics and armchair Trotskys like you and I, given our touted learning and exposure, can hardly make such claims.
Today, we are shackled by vulgar sentiments of religion, rebellion and ethnicity. More worrisome is our continued enslavement by the ruling class via obscene inducements and gifts of grandeur. Consequently, we capitulate to a system by which we are psychologically broken and confined to dubious segregation and manipulative politics. The sentimental fops amongst us are programmed by rumors, innuendo and outright falsehood to shun the path to progress and tow the fast lane to destruction.
Exasperatedly, many identify the major problem afflicting us as the dearth of upright leadership mooted and drawn from the nation’s youth divide. This dearth persists due to our inability to selflessly and responsibly apply ourselves to the crusade against corrupt and selfish leadership. A more crucial dearth however, manifests by our inability to fulfill the demands of sterling citizenship.
A sterling citizenry no doubt provides the humane elements necessary to foster a benevolent leadership but we are too busy casting blames and feathering our own nests that we conveniently forget to become the good citizens we ought to become. The prospective heroes we could rely on have learnt the wisdom of keeping silent. They tactfully scoff at our romanticized wish to abolish the status quo, knowing that, as usual, we would settle for an opportunistic contract between our exploiters (the government) and a part of the exploited (labour and youth leadership), at the expense of the rest of the exploited (you, me and everyone) – something Noel Ignatin aptly identifies as “the original sweetheart agreement.”
Thus we resign to the tyranny of the ruling class, courting and maligning it often in the same breath, while we anticipate and wish doom upon Nigeria. If we look inwards, we would find that the intellectual aptitudes, will and individuality of many of us are strained by disillusionment, cowardice, laziness and abject failure in our roles as patriots and citizens of humanity. Several self-styled leaders of the critical mob are currently in the jailhouse of mammon and sociopolitical expediency. Take Reuben Abati for instance, the foremost critic turned presidential aide; yesterday, he was a mob hero; today he carries on like one enslaved to power and perpetually drunk on his own saliva.