As a Nigerian youth I read with repulsion and utter shame an article written by one Abidemi Adesokan, one of the 54 Unilag students invited to the book launch and 60th birthday celebration of Senator Ben Murray Bruce. The repulsion I felt (still feeling) when I read his article is enormous. Let me rein that in and do a blow by blow account of his article.
[Abidemi: “Senator Ben Murray Bruce turned 60 yesterday, he took the opportunity to launch his book “The Common Sense Revolution” but it’s sad to see that the event in its totality portrays the average Nigerian Politician.
Usually, I hate to attend these so called “Big” events but it was Ben Bruce, the common sense guy, I jumped at the opportunity to go with my department, department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, as we were invited with a letter and we were feeling all important. We didn’t know it was an invitation to humiliation”.]
One doesn’t need a degree in Psychology to decipher the mindset of this Abidemi just from his opening paragraphs. He sounded like someone who has an axe to grind with Senator Murray Bruce even before attending the event. He sounded like he was on a mission to prove that the Lord of Commonsense lacked commonsense. This was clearly his mission and no matter how the event turned out Abidemi would have had something to lament about.
He had an already ordained image of his average Nigerian politician and he was looking for was little slips to say “Didn’t I tell you?”
[Abidemi: “At the venue, we were told to go upstairs, we didn’t mind, as they said that area was reserved for students. Getting there, I realized it was a perfect view to watch the “Elites” wine and dine. Still, we didn’t care. We only began to care when the ceremony kept going on and all tables kept getting additional contents and we were just there, like Observers. Don’t forget that we were invited, as I said earlier.
While all of that kept happening, I still didn’t care because they said every guest will get a free copy of the book. I wanted the book so, I waited on. At the end, only the guests got the Book. I had to look at our invitation to be sure we were guests. Yes, we were guests but the stiff class stratification that Senator Bruce Criticizes came to play.”]
It is shame to invite a fellow young Nigerian like Abidemi to such an event where a book review, lectures and other speeches were to be delivered and all he was looking out for was where others sat and what they were eating. This Unilag student didn’t make one comment about what he learnt from the speeches given in that event. I believe he didn’t hear anything that was being said there because he was too busy looking at the content of others people’s table.
This is clearly an outburst of an arrogant youth. A manifestation of pride. Is there any society in the world where there is no sort of social stratification? So Abidemi wanted Murray Bruce to give him a table with the Deputy Senate President or Prof Pat Utomi to prove that he is against stiff class stratification?
That Ben Murray Bruce talks against stiff class stratification doesn’t mean that he is in anyway talking about a classless, structureless and orderless society. Abidemi should know that this is not possible anywhere. Maybe he is reading too much of Karl Marx. Even in the so called developed societies we like to cite as glorious examples, you don’t go to an event and expect to sit on the same table with the President of the United States, drink from the same cup or even eat what he is eating.
Do you go to the church and mosque and sit where the pastor or Imam sits? Even in Unilag do you sit where your lecturers and VC sit? Do you even stand where they stand? Even in heaven there is no equality. That is why we have angels and archangels. Why come to Senator Ben Murray Bruce event and want equality? Or is it because you are trying so hard to give a dog a bad name and hang it? Was the upstairs not part of the venue? Or were they watching the event on screen from their hostels?
This spirit of entitlement exhibited by Abidemi is the poison that will destroy most Nigerian youths if not checked. We walk around feeling people owe us stuff. They owe us a job. They owe us compliments. They owe us survival. And when folks don’t meet up with this our debt mentality we throw tantrums and lament. It’s a shame. No one owes us jack. Even the world owes us nothing. Afterall the world was here before us. Thousands of young persons, including me, will give a lot to be in that August assembly. But one arrogant Nigerian youth, possessed with the evil spirit of entitlement, went there and is complaining about the seating arrangement, rice, stew, meat and zobo.
We can’t have a society where everyone is equal. All we need is a society where we all have equal opportunity to work hard and achieve our dreams. We can’t have a society where the rich will be forced to give up their wealth and become poor. We need a society where anyone can pursue his dreams and become rich. I don’t need a society where there will be laws to force Silverbird to sell popcorn at N50. I need a society where laws will be made that will enable anyone who works hard enough to achieve his dreams and earn more money will afford Silverbird popcorn at N800. Let’s stop this spirit of entitlement.
[Abidemi: “It’s so sad to see that the actions of the Common Sense Guy justifies the “Common Sense is not so common” statement. “Since I know it’s all fake, I’d like to give a professional PR advice. It’s so bad, if you invite Nigerian students, who will, to a large extent, determine your political success, to an event only for them to watch you and your rich friends dine. Their votes aren’t even enough.
Writing a book about Common Sense doesn’t actually make you have Common Sense. We aren’t hungry people. We are Unilag Students and we are contented with what we have, we wouldn’t go to shop 10 to sweet-talk anyone about common sense, just to get rice.
Happy Birthday, Senator Ben! Thanks for the deceit, segregation and above all, thanks so much for the Palm oil made Jollof Rice with a meat-like object. I am Abidemi Adesokan, A concerned Nigerian Student who believes there is hope for Nigeria, but Bruce isn’t just that guy.”]
Those were the last paragraphs of Abidemi’s write-up. So full of garbage it will be a miracle if you don’t throw up. It is alarming how someone will think like this. Our mates are ministers and even presidents in some climes and some of us like Abidemi are still reasoning as if we are using hacked brains.
So the yardstick Abidemi is using to measure Ben Murray Bruce’s commonsense is whether he (Abidemi) was seated on the table of other guests, served rice, chicken and red wine? So because the organisers of the event, unknown to the senator, forgot to give the students books the senator lacks commonsense and he is fake? Come on, this is so puerile. Even other students in that Unilag entourage won’t buy this trash Abidemi is trying to sell.
So if I go to a wedding and the groom forgets to give me a souvenir or refreshment, then the marriage is fake. And if he is a man that has been preaching love and sharing then I shouldn’t listen to him any longer because I went to his wedding and was served inferior refreshment and didn’t get a souvenir?
How did Abidemi even know that what he was served was inferior? Did he taste what the so called elites were dining on? The way he was focusing on the dining sef you will think that that was the only thing on the agenda. This Abidemi na really long throat o. proper alanga. Bros na there you go to chop night food?
It is this chop chop mentality most Nigerians youths portray that make elders not to respect us. When we go to a place they just conclude its food we want, not intellectual intercourse or an opportunity to contribute to the conversation. Thanks to folks like Abidemi. He has called Senator Bruce fake. He has threatened to not support the senator politically just because he was given different version of rice from the one he was expecting.
I understand the cynicism with which a crop of people look at Ben Murray Bruce. He is now a politician. And many politicians have not treated us well in our checkered political sojourn. It’s really tough to trust some of them. And that Bruce is a politician, we can’t help but look at him with suspicion. He is intelligent. He is daring. He is preaching a good message and dreaming great dreams. But that is the problem. He is too good to be true… for a politician.
Many people are waiting to prove that the senator is a flash in the pan. For some of these waiters, the wait is becoming too long. So they will look hard and find faults and blow it out of proportion. I pray the day never comes when the senator will fall; but if that day comes I will not be afraid to call him out. But our jobs as young people should not be to find faults with this man just to prove that all politicians are the same. He has never claimed to be perfect, none of us is. If we look hard enough we will find fault even with ourselves.
Well, the senator has apologized and by now I believe Abidemi must have gotten a copy of the book as the senator promised. Personally, I’m looking for where to buy a hard copy of the book. Let’s study and get ourselves equipped. This country needs us… now. We can’t afford to waste time talking about rice and meat. And as the legendary Nelson Mandela said on the 15th of May 2008 in his message for “Schools for Africa Campaign”: “Education more than anything else, improves our chances of building better lives”. We must get relevant education to understand the dynamics of democracy, to get equipped with the relevant political tools to engage the political ecosystem. “For my people perish for lack of knowledge.”
“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility… I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it. And the glow from that fire can truly light the world. And so, my fellow (Youths), ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
First Baba Isa (FBI) is a Legal Practitioner and writes from Abuja
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