That Mr Shem Obafaiye May Not Suffer Unjustly, He Deserves Our Pardon!

When one certain Mr Shem Obafaiye goofed on a Channels Television breakfast programme – Sunrise Daily – by confidently expressing ignorance of the web address of the organization he represents, the Nigeria Security Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) of which he is a commandant there and made reference to ‘my oga at the top,’ a phrase which has now become an instant hit, nobody in their wildest imagination could have believed such an innocuous mistake will bring smiles to the face of many. But it did.


I had a jolly good laugh. I shared a YouTube link to the video on my girlfriend’s wall on Facebook and as intended, she quickly caught the ‘oga at the top’ bug. But that was how far I went. How far did you go? And no, this is not a judgement call but how many of us have not made an honest mistake before?

I feared for Mr Shem Obafaiye on two grounds – his psyche and his job. In other climes, assuming he is a ‘white man’ no pun intended, he would have committed suicide! There’s no two ways about it. His job already is on shaky grounds if media speculation is to be believed – that he has been suspended by his ‘oga at the top’.

Wow! That is the power of social media – a virtual yet very powerfully effective tool if and when deployed. Little wonder the oppressors of the Nigerian people are jittery and whenever they have the opportunity never cease to call for its censorship. While I support responsible and conscious use of social media tools, I do not support its outright censorship! I digress.

While the ‘oga at the top’ joke was going round, I could not help but notice two salient points: that while Mr Shem Obafaiye was the butt of all the jokes, no one cared to know his ethnicity or religion. And when calls were made to desist from doing further damage, no one used either religion or ethnicity as an excuse. For once in a very long time, these two key ingredients which have always been our focal points in an argument or counter argument, was conspicuously missing. How did we achieve that feat?

Which brings me to a somewhat inconclusive end – it is either we are smart by half or simply foolish! Where we need to discuss the real issues devoid of religious and ethnic sentiments, that is where we display our ignorance and where it is not really required, we play intelligent. Who are we deceiving? Those who were so quick to print the ‘oga at the top’ t-shirts, make video and audio remixes of the phrase and so on thereby cashing in on the unfortunate mistakes of one man, I ask, where was your thinking cap when the National Council of States headed by President Goodluck Jonathan granted DSP Alamieyeseigha a fraudulent state pardon?

This saga once again reveals the thinking of the average Nigerian man – kill the fly with a sledge hammer but decorate the path of the poisonous snake with sweet scented flowers. It is that same attitude in us that will make a mob kill four young men in their prime over a false allegation but praise the likes of Peter Odili to high heavens for being a smart thief. It is that same spirit that will not let us constructively dissect issues of national importance from a nationalist and unbiased point of view but will allow us do same when matters of less national importance are brought up. Are we alright? If left unabated, this ‘oga at the top’ joke will last longer in national discourse than the pardon granted Alams and the everyday brazen pilfering of our commonwealth by our ogas at the top who are by the way having a field day while we concentrate all our energy on the mundane.

The same passion, zeal, forthrightness and thoughtfulness with which we attacked the ‘oga at the top’ phenomenon, can we at least translate same into our everyday lives?

The moment we realise that every mobile phone, personal computer, tablet, or device that grants us access to the internet is a very powerful tool that we can use in causing a change, positive change, that is the moment we begin to reclaim our country back from those who have made it their birth right by virtue of luck, appointment or by our own ignorance.

The moment we realise that there are bigger fishes to fry than gathering around the fingerlings just to satisfy our transient pleasures and fantasies that is the moment we begin to indicate our seriousness to challenge the status quo and keep our ogas at the top on their toes.

Now, may I seize this opportunity to join those who have called for an end to this rude joke? Enough said, because if I may recall correctly, no one, maybe with the exception of President Jonathan though, has been at the receiving end of Nigerians use of social media like Mr Shem Obafaiye. The poor man has suffered enough and deserves our collective pardon.

After all, DSP Alams, a convicted felon who still has cases pending in the UK and maybe U.S., was recently granted pardon by the state – what more could be worse? Who else could be less deserving of our forgiveness and mercy?

Follow on Twitter @ayoadaniel


  1. True talk bro. I personally believe that not knowing the website of his organisation does not mean he is incompetent with his job. The internet age is a relatively new one as such most people in his generation are still rigid when it comes to availing their self of its benefit. Its more of a call to us to always keep abreast to modern advances in our field and the society. This surely doesn’t call for him losing his job.

  2. God bless you,I would even advocate an apology to Mr Shem and his family for the 7 days and counting of torture they have gone through.Mr Shem made just one mistake,however all of us who mocked him over and over have made thesame mistake over and over-the diffrence is Mr Shem made an honest mistake we r making a dishonest criticism about dis guy.pls it shd stop.

  3. Mr Shem made a mistake that made me verify the website of my own organization. He made a mistake that most of us would have made. maybe his delivery of the mistake put him in trouble. Afterall when asked a question you dont know the answer you would simple say that you are not authorized to divulge such information. Oga at the to has pardoned Alams. Though morally wrong, he is legally authorized to do it by the powers bestowed on him by the constitution.

  4. Its not your fault my Oga. The major factor here is that your name has a way of playing a vital role in your life . Firstly Shem could me shame in english pls seek a change of name for posterity sake. To God be the glory .

  5. Let us look at the role of NSCDC as at the time when the likes of Mr Obafaiye Shem joined up,it must have been some 20 years ago or there about made up of security men who were mostly uneducated. NSCDC has now attained greater heights and gone global,who new they would come this far and this high. This man found his way to his present position the hard way,all the way from the rank and file(recruit),they are everywhere holding key positions all over the country. He is not to be crucified for not changing with the times,many of our fathers are guilty of these same mistakes.My fellow nigerians, please let us channel this oneness and energy in doing what will make our nation greater. I LOVE MY COUNTRY NIGERIA.

  6. the truth is i agree totally with what u said. It is so unfortunate that it took an innocent man like mr shem to make nigerians know that we can torture and demoralise any government official that is incompetent for his job. I wish the same treatment was mented out to those corrupt politicians who cannot even recite the national anthem. I believe we should channel this powerful weapon we have into a more profitable venture. ALUTA

  7. Sincerely media is d root of all evils in dis country of ours. Am very sure if he has hausa lyk name. Dat will hav been d topic 4 d year. I must say until we stop sentiment be4 our country can grow. Freedom given 2 thieves n we r mute abt dat. Let’s think twice fellow Nigerians

  8. Oh! God bless you sir. I love this piece!!!…if and only if we can, as Youths, use social networks to fight our corrupt leaders, I believe Nigeria would have been better by now. Imagine the initiative, energy, passion, zeal etc melted out in this saga: Oga @d Top, replicated in Alarms pardon, GEJ would have reverse this pardon wothout second thought. Please let’s use social media to the general interest of the country. But truth must be told: if Mr Shem was a Muslim or from d North, I believe Religion and Trybe woul have been made mention(I am a Christian). Nevertheless, we can still get it right.!!!

  9. Your article is kinda lopsided, you brought too many disjointed parts together and am wondering what you are rili talking abt… it about the “oga @ the top” saga or abt Alams, or abt the fact the ethinicity of mr shem or his religion ws not brought into play, or that you also had a good laught but you are repentant now and ready to forgive mr shem?….obviously you aint a writer cos this is 1 article that I cant really align its content with the title.
    The whole package is just…….yuck!