Two unrelated events in the past week got me thinking about the Nigerian Intellectual. The first is the pulling out of five teams from the fast rising football event known as Twitter Premier League also known as TPL and the second is the vote by the Nigerian Senate to throw out a motion seeking to force the Federal Government to pay the N5,000 in stipends which they had promised 25million Nigerians living in extreme poverty.
I did say the two events are unrelated. That is not altogether true. These two events and others before them are in fact very related. They have helped unmask the dearth of intellectualism on Nigerian Twitter. And if as people say Twitter is a microcosm of the larger society, then at this time we should begin a rigorous search for the Nigerian Intellectual.
Let me start by talking about who the Nigerian Intellectual should be. According to Webster’s, an intellectual is someone that is smart and devotes time to study and thought. These may be little words but are very deep in meaning. I shall concentrate on one of the words which for me is very definitive of who the Intellectual should be: “thought”. The intellectual should be a thinking person. One, who when they see a matter will sieve and sift through until they discern true meanings and intentions. They will not be one to jump on any passing mantra or who will accept ideologies because they are a fad. The intellectuals position is borne out of careful examination. His mind is able to entertain a thought even if he won’t accept it. And when he does accept it, he does so out of deep seated conviction.
Now let us get back to Twitter Nigeria.
In the run up to the last elections, a clear trend could be seen. There was a redefinition of the Nigerian Intellectual. A person would be seen as intellectual or not depending on his political affiliations. The Twitter Intellectual carried on like there were only two choices: You were either pro-Buhari or anti-Nigeria. Things got to the point where the slogan was, “any vote not for APC is for Jonathan”. It didn’t matter that there were at least eleven other political parties who floated candidates in the elections.
Thus it was that the Nigerian Intellectual took the lead in the polarisation of Nigerians. People who were hitherto seen as a voice and who had been “apolitical” became the voice of a particular political party. Everything and anything was viewed through the lens of whose political interest it would serve. When the army recorded a victory, it was not celebrated because it was “Jonathan’s” victory. When Nigeria was rid of polio, it was played down because Jonathan was President.
So, when APC game up with an unrealistic, unimplementable and unexecutable socialist policy with which to run Nigeria should they win, the Twitter Intellectual ran with it. The Twitter Intellectual put away all logic and employed every brand of fallacious argument to push the APC narrative: Nigeria is a rich country, we can run these policies, all we need is to get into government.
And now they are in government. Oh ye Intellectual what new sermon preachest thou? Do you really think you can strike Nigerians with a collective amnesia? Suddenly, the army is no longer Jonathan’s army, you won’t let us call them Buhari’s army either, you would rather they be properly designated the Nigerian army? Now, you want us to accept good things that come to Nigeria not as the President’s victory but Nigeria’s victory? Suddenly the buck no longer stops at the President’s table? Have you no shame? Where is your pride? I forget, you sold it for a pot of change! Speak no more, for you are dead!
This brand of intellectuals, the Longhairs and Highbrows have by their partisanship shown that they can no longer be trusted with shaping opinion. All that proceeds out of their mouth is divisions and partisanship and polarisation, a lack of depth and an aversion to objectivity. They must be disowned and stripped. They no longer deserve to wear the toga!
But Look! A voice in the wilderness. A lone voice, nay two three and then some more. Neo Intellectuals shall rise and I predict that they shall rise from the very unpopular Fencists. They will drive conversations and they will not be bought over by any political parties. They shall grow a new thought and new ideologies. They shall wail, they shall criticise not as the opposition but as an independent voice of integrity. They may be lumped together as opposition by the pseudo-intellectuals but as time progresses and light becomes lighter all shall be exposed. They shall grow and be the ones. You can already see them emerging if you look and see with wisdom. For they are the ones who can truly say: I belong to everyone and I belong to no one.