Sylva Nze Ifedigbo: Dear citizens of the world’s argument capital…

by Sylva Nze Ifedigbo

couple_arguing

While the news stand remains the choice destination for most of these argument champions, a new arena has emerged which threatens to take the shine off the paper stands. This is the internet.

I am not quite certain if there is any world cup for argument? If there is, and really there ought to be one, Nigerians would be its all time winner.

We would not only be champions, but would have transcended to a status where we are made responsible for making the rules of the game and perhaps by now we would have begun teaching it in our universities and writing PhD theses on the fine art of arguing.

Perhaps that is one of the attributes which won us the world’s happiest people award sometime go. We have developed, mastered and are currently propagating the art of arguing away our very own misery.

It is such a classical phenomenon.

We are a people who would without qualms dedicate many hours of the day clawing at each other, straining our nerves, tearing our voice box and as is now popular, blistering our fingers as they punch away on key pads in some argument over an issue that though affects us greatly, we are simply not ready to take any step whatsoever to address except in that self-indulgence of arguing.

Before now, the classical theatre for this was the newspaper stand. There is always a pool of people forming a crescent around the newspapers on display at the stand. The screaming headlines on the cover pages of the newspapers are already in argument with each other. The readers, most of them not buoyant enough to afford buying a personal copy, stand around and shout their voice hoarse, expressing opinions that are sometimes so uninformed and laughable that one wonders if they actually read the papers before them. Then they take sides, defending people they’ve never met, people that do not care about their existence, people who are busy in government housesarguing to secure larger portions of the national cake for themselves.

Among these argument champions are conspiracy theorists, those who claim to have sources in the corridors of power, those who always know what is going to happen, who are privy to the mid night meeting that held in some clandestine location where the decision about some issue was taken and of course, those who are willing to listen to all the balderdash with glee.

You find those who already know who would rule Nigeria in 2015, those who know about all the secret game plan of the PDP, those who know what APC has up their sleeves, those who were present when The North anointed a candidate and those who will speak as though they chaired the meeting at which Goodluck assured the UN General Assembly that he would not run for second term.

While the news stand remains the choice destination for most of these argument champions, a new arena has emerged which threatens to take the shine off the paper stands. This is the internet.

While regular civil servants, the unemployed and retirees hold sway at the newsstands, the internet argument arena is crowded by the elite and internet savvy, upwardly mobile young Nigerians who seem more interested in holding their own, in displaying how much English they can write, in advertising that they picked up a degree abroad and better understand international politics than any other person.  People who have more solutions than the problems Nigerian has, who don’t agree with any other suggestion but proffer none of theirs, who seem so passionate about this country but cannot as much as have decent exchange with their fellow young people without resorting to below the belt language.

And yes indeed they are passionate about the country no doubt. But the irony is that the same argument champion who knows so much about an ideal electoral process does not own a voters card, he does not know the name of his ward, he doesn’t know what Nigeria’s constitution looks like and is not prepared to do anything outside screaming and splattering the atmosphere and cyberspace with saliva and comments that does not, save perhaps for the action involved in making them, change anything or the course of events especially as it affects the very person making the argument.

A quick case study is the last Area Council Elections in Abuja. How many of the smart phone wielding, internet argument champions who reside in the city came out to vote? Oh well, it is only the local government… it’s an unimportant tier so no need to participate. Yet you complain about the waste at your street junction, the gutters that are spewing content, the primary health centre that has become home for stray goats and the market which is impossible to shop in once there is rain.

We leave the newspaper stands and return to the very same miseries that confront us. To the dark nights, to the dry taps, to the semblance of hospitals, to our failed schools. We log out of cyber space (that’s when we are not forced off by drained batteries)  grumbling about a broadband that has refused to be broad, about countless job applications without a single interview invitation, about lost opportunities and those that shall forever remain only in our dreams.

All of these because we have decided collectively as a people it seems, to do nothing. Do nothing but argue. And believe me, some will want to have my head for this piece. They will call it an unfair attack on Nigerians online, they will say the arguments are necessary for nation building. Well, have we not heard those lines before? We scream the same worn thoughts to the very same people daily…marking time, listening to our own voices, retweeting our voltrons and wallowing in self-glory.

And while we argue away our misery, those we argue about perfect plans on how to rape us again, dipping their hands deeper into the till to give us more topics to argue about. For they know that while we argue, they are free to drink to their fill of that fountain that has ran dry on our part of town.

One point we all seem to agree on no matter the argument though is that our country is in bad shape and to fix it, it’s high time the argument became productive.

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Follow this writer on Twitter: @nzesylva

Read this article on The Scoop

 

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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