By Mu’azu Aminu Gital
The title ‘responsibility of intellectuals’ was coined by a US scholar in the name of Noam Chomsky in his widely publicized essay in 1967. Noam was an anti-war activist, he saw US’s aggression towards war as negligence from the part of the American intellectuals.
Nigeria today is beleaguered by economic downturn and a repetitive circles of PMS shortage, the government has not so far come up with a proactive measures to tackle it once and for ever, what is only apparent are policies to preserve the status quo and to keep greasing our shock absorbers while no solution or a formidable blue print can be pointed at as a rescue destination for our dear nation. On the other hand Nigeria’s intellectuals today has slipped into slumber in shaping national discourse where I can vividly remember that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s administration has a healthy atmosphere for intellectual discourse, minds were rubbed through mainstream and social media, and a national conference was set up to discuss Nigeria’s edging issues. World War II British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said “we cannot say good man will always overcome a knave; but the evolutionist will not hesitate to affirm that the nation with the highest ideals would succeed”. Policy making and implementations are made through collective action and resolution, where no one would feel victimized. The 2014 national conference report if implemented even with its flaws will be widely accepted, because, it is a resolution that intellectuals all across Nigeria deliberated on.
Today, Nigeria has fallen into a one man show in other words ‘jack of all trade; master of none’; I am not referring to the president rather to the APC party in general. The other day I read an interview granted by a northern intellectual in person of Dr. Junaid Muhammad where he berate the Attorney General of the federation calling him a charge and bail lawyer and he further states that President Buhari has surrounded himself with incompetent people, only few days later a rejoinder was published with the intention to immortalize the AGF. In today’s Nigeria the opinion that only counts are that of which are friends to the governing APC or those that sympathize with their cause, which direly harmful to our democracy, now any intellectual apart from the aforementioned that wants to contribute to the national discourse will be tagged as unpatriotic, belonging to the old brigade, or a bigot, and sometimes these unscrupulous sentiments are carried out by mainstream media houses.
I would like to showcase how intellectualism has suffered in Nigeria, I will use the term ‘Abuja intellectuals’ in buttressing my facts. The term Abuja intellectuals not really in its literal meaning is just an expression of intellectuals spread across Nigeria’s most cosmopolitan cities being Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt , Kaduna, and Enugu. I am using Abuja because of it being the Capital city of Nigeria. These so called Abuja intellectuals has position themselves in power and social media, using their coercive force they determine and trend who or what should be the subject of discussion. They are not really Mafias but they hold a great influence in shaping national discourse and sometime they create organizations as a pressure group which serves only as subterfuges to their real interest. They are educated and well versed in the dynamism of governance, they seat from their comfort zone and try to formulate or determine what should happen in other parts of the country, an Example was the Ekiti governorship Election where the APC governor and candidate won both in the mainstream and social media but surprisingly it was the PDP candidate that won the ballot election, the people of Ekiti state voted out APC by a wide margin, though the credibility of the election is questionable but there is no doubt that Ayodele Fayose is the people’s choice contrary to what the Abuja intellectuals wanted and twisted the media for. Another Example is the case of Ahmad Salkida, an indigene of Boko Haram ravaged Borno state he was also once a Negotiator between Boko Haram and the government in the former Dr. Jonathan’s administration, he is today pushed into obscurity both by Abuja intellectuals and the government which the reason, perhaps, he is not saying what appeases their interest.
Lastly, I would like to draw the attention of the powers that be in Nigeria to stop condoning sycophancy and to allow the democratization of ideas. It’s not a just that only your intellectual equal’s idea that matters but of which what impact can it be to better the Nigerian project. Karl Marx wasn’t a University professor neither was he an authority, yet he shook the foundation of governance all over the world.
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