The Nigerian Mob: A Case Of Re-Orienting Our Minds

(By Chukwudebe Nonso Dennis)

We must realise that the common man in Kano, the ordinary hunter in Ife, the truck pusher in Onitsha main market and the little known tailor in Bayelsa all share a common experience of daily toiling in this entity called Nigeria and they all really don’t have any reason to hate each other but have a common foe in their politicians who constantly lie to them that they ought to be divided and express hatred for each other.

IN a society constantly exploited and left spoiled by successive governments, it is no surprise to see a large proportion of its citizens sadly but proudly laying claims to stupidity and leaving no one in doubt as to their shameless inability to think for themselves.

   These are citizens who have so lost touch with reality and suffer from a certain twisted and highly debilitating strain of amnesia that they go to great lengths to defend those who contributed enormously in keeping them in their pitiable states.

   In times past, it was erroneously believed that this class of pitiable citizens could only be found among the “dregs of the society”, the street hoodlum whose only idea of survival was through the means of brute force which could be exploited by mischievous politicians with minds set on extremely selfish ends.

   In times past, it was this class of citizens that easily swayed to that often repeated convenient “Un-Truth” which substitutes bare-faced personal interest as that of the collective; the kind of lie that would rather spring up well constructed ethnic laced rhetoric than admit its principal is in dire need of relevance.

   All that was in the past for it would appear this constant pillage of our collective psyche has so run its full course that it would be wicked and unfair to claim these “hoodlums” as the sole sufferers of the aforementioned debilitating disease.

  Today we find “educated” folks on cyberspace competing in a mad dance to ensure their “preferred thief” (whose necessary qualification for this revered appellation is either they stem from their ethnic space or have same religious inclination) never gets disgraced in the mad scramble to ensure their children (of the said so-called educated) never get a fair deal in the Nigerian equation!

  In the place of rationality and common sense, they develop a certain “mob” mentality that can only equate to that found in ancient Rome where the leaders realised early that the mob had a terribly short memory and could easily be manipulated as evidenced by the constant spectacle of gladiators’ blood organised in the coliseum to keep the peoples’ gullible minds busy and away from the real and evident issues constantly staring them in the face.

  In the Nigerian experience this could take the form of a government throwing up a programme or idea that temporarily captures the national consciousness such that all real issues are suspended albeit temporarily.

  It could also take the form of a national calamity designed to shock in such a way that every other issue is suspended and all the “mob” focuses on is the calamity.

  For example, I’m sure it’s hard to even begin to imagine it was only recently Nigerians were entertained by the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) shenanigans and the infamous walk out in the Eagle Square because recent events like the massacre of innocent students and the recently announced government willingness to open up the national space for discourse has taken over the airwaves.

  In all of this, the mob remains docile, impervious to the great harm being done to it, strangely content and it would appear, happy to the point of taking up arms against those they remotely perceive as opposing their preferred thieves!

  They are notoriously known for an inability to think for themselves and must of necessity allow others perform this ordinarily personal function which would explain why they will always remain toast in the hands of a man that knows how to tune it for personal gain!

  Mob mentality embraces amnesia like a long lost brother and it is amazing how quick the mob can forget even the most grievous of wrongs as long as one says the right things…

   A classic example would be the death of Ceaser where in the same arena Brutus succeeded in turning the hearts of the mob against Ceaser only to commit the terrible blunder of giving Mark Anthony the floor who then went ahead to turn the tables with those now immortal words “Friends, Countrymen, Romans….. Lend me your ears……’’ Bottom line, any intelligent fool can turn the heart of a mob to suit his own selfish ends.

   Any mischievous politician in dire need of rehabilitation can appeal to the base emotions of a mob by whipping up ethnic or religious sentiments whilst never forgetting to subtly chip in vain glorious statements designed to ensure the minds of the mob stays glued to an impossible ideal of a hero that must become.

  It really doesn’t take much to entertain the mob; all that is needed is an effusive willingness to embrace the dramatic which can be achieved by ensuring one not only has an opinion on every national topic but must of necessity manage to personalise the topic in such a way that the target audience (the mob) is not left in doubt as to the need for more veneration of their new-found hero!

   Another very sad attribute of mobs is that they have a very short fuse and all they need is a spark to unleash mindless carnage which can ultimately consume those that lit the fire.

  Because they (mobs) have very short memories, they can never be trusted to stay loyal forever and anyone that puts his trust in the hands of a mob is really not a good student of history!

  That being said, we must begin to look deep and ask ourselves very personal questions; we must strive individually to divorce our minds from the curse/scourge of mob mentality; we must make attempts to (for once) put to good use our education and common sense by at least recognising when politicians try to put an ethnic or religious wedge between us and our neighbours in the name of fighting our collective cause whilst cleverly masking a deeper desire to be recognised.

   We must realise that the common man in Kano, the ordinary hunter in Ife, the truck pusher in Onitsha main market and the little known tailor in Bayelsa all share a common experience of daily toiling in this entity called Nigeria and they all really don’t have any reason to hate each other but have a common foe in their politicians who constantly lie to them that they ought to be divided and express hatred for each other.

   We must at least recognise that every time we hate our fellow citizens by virtue of their not being from our ethnic or religious stock, we are like that fool or mob who has so constantly heard a lie that it now appears truthful; we must strive to extricate our minds from decades of exploitation and recognise that when a politician says “we”, they unequivocally mean “I”;

we must make attempts to resist these mischief makers who masquerade as hero’s and tell them we know exactly why they choose to play to the gallery and that like most entertainment, there must be an ending.

  We must rise from this coliseum constantly filled with the blood of the innocents and say No to the stupidity and irrationality we so tenaciously held on to whilst the show lasted ; we must indeed say No to this drama. To the wise, this is a wake-up call but to those still unwilling to let go of the mob mentality, this is the voice of an ethnic idiot which is full of “sound and fury signifying nothing!!!” To them, the drama continues and they live and die for the thrills of the coliseum!!!

• Dennis is a media consultant, wrote from Asaba.

“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”

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