Before We Pardon My Oga At The Top

The phrase “My Oga At The Top is no longer a strange gist in Nigeria and beyond. It's apparently the most trending gist on the social media and other fora. But for those who might be coming in contact with it for the first time, it's an excerpt from an interview granted by the Lagos state commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Commission, Mr. Sunday Obafaiye Shem, who was invited by the Channels Television for an interview over employment racketeering accusations and allegation peddled against the commission. So, while they asked him variety of questions for information that can help put an end to the ugly allegations, he developed what we termed in psychology as selective mutism. Selective mutism is the failure to speak in certain social situations in which speaking is expected, despite a proven ability to speak in other situations. The manner at which he was pontificating compounded the whole issue. Here is an excerpt from the interview;

Channels (CH) (male): What is the website of NSCDC?

Lagos State Commandant (CD): The website of NSCDC...yes…we…know..I cannot categorically tell you one now…because the one that...

CH (male): Do you have multiple websites?
CD: Wait...wait... The one we are going to make use of, I am not the one that is going to create it

CH (male): No. you see, the questions is "what is your website?"

CD: Wait
CH (male): Ok
CD: The one that we are going to make use of is going to be made known by my oga at the top. Yes. I can't announce one now and my oga says it's another one.

CH (female): The NSCDC has multiple website?
CD: See something...wait...we are not having multiple website… the one that will #coughs# my oga

CH (both): No no… not the one for employment.
CD: Yes
CH (male): What is your website now? The one they use normally.

CH (both): Your official website.
CH (females): If you want to know about NSCDS, what website do you go to?

CD: Ok, if you want to know about NSCDS as at now?
CH: Exactly
CD: #coughs# yes....That's all

CH: That's it?
CD: Yes
With Nigerians already overwhelmed by the politicking of the country at late, this goof passed for another time to unburden the mind. Being a while they last had such which was during the Otedola vs Farouk Lawan fuel subsidy political melodrama in 2012. Suffice it to say that Hon. Farouk Lawan had it worst with the fabrication of words like, “Faroukgate, Cap Banking, I will Farouk you” etc., only that it rarely fitted into some circumstances unlike “My Oga At The Top that can pass for any circumstance as we'll be seeing subsequently in this piece. The phrase is breaking new grounds and making more waves all over the world. T. shirts have been sold in their hundreds to thousand with an insignia; “My Oga At The Top”, videos, cartoons, music etc have all been coined with the phrase.

For objective analysis, the topic has been overblown out of proportion! The man before the national embarrassment has had it going good for him while the interview lasted until the point where it was time to reel out the commission's website only for him to stutter. Majority of the reactions to this issue have discredited him for this shortfall as many didn't acknowledge his previous responses. But it is always fair to balance the scale. Legally, there is no law that restricts a government agency or parastatal from having or using multiple website; particularly in an ICT driven world. The only thing Mr. Obafaiye needed to have done was to set the records straight. But it was obvious he is not ICT compliant even though he spuriously alleged not to be the person to create the “website that will be made use of”.

Frankly speaking, it is not only disappointing but also embarrassing and it makes mockery of our recruitment process in this country. In psychology, we do not believe what others may refer to as a “slip of tongue”. Psychoanalysts believe that every word or action is a product of the thoughts we already pre-conceived but the opportunity to express them didn't surface. Such can be inferred to explain the psychological state of Mr. Obafaiye. He had something to say but when he remembered the deal with his “Oga At The Top” he was forced to give credence to the boss and goof around the subject.

It is not only ludicrous but smacks of idiosyncrasy to see a whole commandant commit such national blunder. It further reveals that our aged Civil Servants require modern training to catch up with the pace of the 21st century development and their peers in other parts of the world. It also once again calls to bear the educational qualification of our public office holders. How can one be surprised when a sitting state governor is yet to provide a valid primary school certificate? What does that connote? The system is in shambles and disarray! The qualified don't get there but only the connected loyalist do. But how long can a pregnant woman continue to hide her pregnancy?

I have just downloaded a song fabricated with this phrase. Honestly, this man, Mr. Obafaiye may not have seen or heard the last of this embarrassment and disrepute he has brought to his “Oga At The Top that he was trying to shield from introspection and the commission he coastally superintend. I have been wondering the kind of thoughts that would be radiating through his hearts following the reactions that trailed his goof. The man would be shocked by what social media users have used his blunder to fabricate. The phrase is being used to coin answers to all manner of questions. Even the same Oga he was trying to shield would be so embarrassed to put it mildly.

It has come to my knowledge that some people are trying to make case for him by laying the blames at the feet of Channels Television for not doctoring such scene; adding that such questions are meant for the Public Relation of the Commission. Pathetic! “Any attempt to lay blame on the Channels TV interviewers is simply a wretched attempt to defend mediocrity and ineptitude. As a top official in any organization your high position should, abinito translate into an encyclopedic knowledge about the organization you represent. As such, you should and must be ready at all times to match knowledge for knowledge, logic for logic, intellect for intellect, confrontation with confrontation by anybody including nosey journalists” (Ugochukwu Ogbuariri 2013).

I have also learnt about some people trying to whip up sentiments for the man by asking that Nigerians – who are merely catching their fun – to refrain from using the phrase as it seems to be causing the crooner some emotional discomfort. May I interject that the more you try to stop people from using such word is the more they'll keep inventing new lines from it. A typical example was a friend who got the circular asking that the fun be stopped tweeted and said, “you're asking me to stop using #MyOgaAtTheTop, what if I stop and my oga at the top say something else? This is how far the fun has gone and any attempt to stop it will only amount to effort in futility. Nigerians have a way of excreting their resentments and nothing can stop them. It would have been a different case if it was during the military era when an order from “the Oga At The Top can put a stop to it. This is simply democracy and Nigerians are loving it. Nigerians are a very loving and forgiving people as evident in the same people who after using the phrase are also calling for an end to it. It is simply a phase of their history that they must pass through and any attempt to stop them will be met with so much resistance.

There is what we refer to as “Flooding” in psychology. Flooding is simply a technique of behavior therapy used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder like anxiety, and this is done by exposing the anxious person intensively to the same anxiety-producing situation until the anxiety subsides. So, rather than asking people to stop using the phrase, it is better that the man gets more exposed to words and things coined with the phrase. With time, he'll get so accustomed to them and won't be moved by it again.

Hon. Farouk Lawan had it worst during the Fuel subsidy saga, but today, he is almost a forgotten case while the House of Representatives have also granted him “pardon”. So, Mr. Obafaiye's case won't be an exception, something else will soon evolve that will gradually erode the present phrase off the screen, but until then, let me not say one more thing now and “#MyOgaAtTheTop say something else.

Ex Editor-In-Chief
Psychology Press Organization,
University of Ibadan
Simeon Christian is also an author for

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Articles by Simeon Christian Chukwu