Really, many things are conspiring to make me sad in this country. The Kogi State problem is still there and appears to be daily gathering much dross about it, what with the contestants crying foul and refusing to back down. I have since been questioning the viability of these states, but that’s a topic for another day. Then there are the bombings still going on by the boko haram as if that body wants to tell us they are still around.
So, at my own social media, i.e., when we go to queue for fuel for three or four days to buy five hundred Naira fuel, we complain about the Nigerian system that allows its senate to complain about the social media.
To them, I have gone grrr!, while shaking my fist. Then there are the revelations concerning the ‘fake’ arms deals which masqueraded for the ‘mind boggling’ Billion-Naira-sharing scheme that went on during the Jonathan years as one report put it. That really put me off, but again, that’s for another day. Then, take the fact that I am no longer qualified to wear the tight-fitting jeans the young ones wear now that looks like their second skin. No, it’s not because I am too old; it’s because I cannot afford both the jeans and the lungs. Now, the senate is adding its own drama to my saga of sadness by stating its intention to, wait for it, go after the social media! Seriously?! Seriously?!
Honestly, if I wasn’t so sad, I would be tempted to cry. I know, I know, sadness and crying live right next door to each other; so, one way or the other, my face must either remain long or wear trails of tears like some desert road bearing the footprints of cowboys long since gone. When I read that piece of news about the senate deciding to take on the social media, I thought, come, what the deuce is going on?
First, I listened to the senate’s peeve. The senate says it now has zero tolerance for ‘frivolous petitions’ without affidavits. If you ask me, I do not know what that means. Can it refer to news items? Can it even refer to news commentaries? Wait, wait, might it refer to commentaries like this one that you are reading right now, dear, esteemed reader? Can it even refer to the little bits of reactions and comments that accompany news pieces on the net? I don’t know the senate’s peeve. Do you?
The more I ruminated on it, goat style, the more I thought that this might be diversionary. I think that the senate might have sat down to work out how best to divert the attention of the good citizens of this country away from the litany of bad news threatening daily to drown us in their slosh. So, they came up with this beautiful plan to take on what they think is an insignificant component of the Nigerian population.
But wait. Who is this social media and what do they want? From my research, it appears that the social media has no register of persons. It is made up of anyone deft enough on the computer but altruistically minded enough to comment on social happenings. Where do they live? Search me, but I think that they might be in any corner of the universe, considering that the moon is now being cleared, vacuumed and carpeted for human existence. And God forbid that our standards should go down. Anyway, it is this mighty army that is scattered over the face of the earth, made up of varying degrees of wisdom, knowledge and understanding, and is armed with nothing but their ‘pens’, that the senate has decided to take on.
As to what they want, let me go back to my research notes. Yes, mostly, most of them take to the forum to make their minds known on specific issues of interest to them. For many of them lacking access to the government or their representatives or jurisdiction, the social media is their last bastion of hope to air their grievances. So, the medium performs the double duty of being a wall to write on and a psychiatrist’s chair to purge out unholy emotions occasioned by unpopular governmental policies. For them, it’s an avenue to struggle against injustice, power drunkenness and wickedness in high places.
To rid the people who use the social media of this avenue is to strip them down to the bones. It’s a little like the story of a beggar who kept his goods in a corner of the corridor of an abandoned public building; only to come back from begging one day and find that he had been robbed. Just imagine, our leaders have not governed us well but have rather pilfered all the money put in their trust for the people. Unfortunately, the reports of these pilfering are still being brought in even as we speak. And now, even what is left to the people is about to be pilfered.
How then can we talk of unsubstantiated petition writing on the social media? I honestly don’t know since I really don’t know much about it. I guess there is a site labelled ‘Petition Writing’ but I am not subscribed to it. I am subscribed to another forum.
I am subscribed to that forum which perpetually feels the effects of bad governance. For many months now, my house has enjoyed only about three hours of electricity from the public distribution company in every twenty-four hours. In the remaining hours, I am at the mercy of the generator sellers and the petrol stations. So, at my own social media, i.e., where we go to queue for fuel for three or four days to buy five hundred Naira fuel, we complain about the Nigerian system that allows its senate to complain about the social media.
As many people have pointed out, there are many legal means of seeking redress open to all aggrieved persons. The laws of libel and defamation of character can be invoked. To go on with this inquisition is tantamount to the senate declaring war on the people after it has been elected by the people. It’s like a story I read sometime about an apprentice doctor who tried to deliver a woman made of papier marche of her papier marche baby and clumsily threw both mother and child over his shoulder after pushing too hard. Well, said his supervisor, kill the father with the forceps and you have killed the family. The people do not have their way; the senate has that, and now their say is being thrown out over the senate’s shoulder.
In the matter of the ‘Senate versus the Social Media’, I think that our esteemed senators should listen less to their wards. Those ones are so adept at manipulating the computer they can get anyone lost inside the internet and the World Wide Web. The senate should not go with them or it will find itself in some very murky waters. The senate should listen more to the people they have consented to represent crying of hunger and deprivation.
When a silence is forced on the people for any reason, it amounts to asking them to bottle up their feelings. We all know what happens to bottled up feelings: they gather steam. It also gathers moss; both of which can make for one catastrophic conflagration. All you need is one little spark.
If I were the senate, I would definitely leave the social media alone. I would rather focus on those things that can dilute the concentration of anger in those petitions we are so afraid of, such as reducing hunger on the streets, and providing electricity, water and housing. Trying to control the people’s mind, when the stomach is still roaming free on an empty tank, amounts to waking up a sleeping dog. Better to let sleeping dogs lie.[The Nation]
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