By Duno Kogbara
Last week, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson Prince Harry and his half-black wife, Meghan Markle, had a daughter and named it Lilibet.
Lilibet is the Queen’s pet name, hitherto only used in very intimate family settings by Her Majesty’s late parents and late husband.
This development came as a complete surprise to most onlookers because Meghan and Harry (or MegHarry as I call the controversial duo) have been at loggerheads with the monarchy for a while.
MegHarry, who exiled themselves from the UK last year to enjoy unroyal freedoms in California and never stop talking about painful personal matters that some of us would prefer them to sort out privately, have publicly accused Harry’s royal relatives – and the courtiers who serve them – of racism, dishonesty and callousness.
The disgruntled prince has even criticised his granny’s old-fashioned parenting style. So, the last thing most onlookers expected was for MegHarry to honour her by naming their new baby after her.
Print and broadcast journalists wondered whether this move was an olive branch and way of saying “sorry” for upsetting Harry’s sibling, cousins and elders…or a cynical branding exercise (MegHarry appear to be extremely interested in big bucks; and a child who is named after an icon – Queen Elizabeth is the longest-reigning English monarch in history – is, potentially, a massive commercial asset).
Meanwhile, various media outlets speculated about whether MegHarry had sought the Queen’s permission beforehand and the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, based on information it allegedly received from an insider, claimed that MegHarry hadn’t.
And guess what? MegHarry are threatening to sue the BBC for libel because they say that they DID consult the Queen in advance.
OK, so even if they are telling the truth (the regally reticent Queen rarely comments on anything and has neither denied nor confirmed MegHarry’s story), is a minor tussle like this a good reason to plunge into a bitter, time-consuming, undignified and costly legal battle?
Talk about trying to assassinate a fly with a sledgehammer!
The mighty, global, influential BBC is not an inconsequential fly, but the issue in question – the naming of an infant! – certainly is. And it would be a case of total overkill to slam down on the fly so hard.
I feel the same way about the Nigerian Government’s Twitter ban.
Sure, Twitter is full of daft and tedious and inappropriate and rude and inflammatory and pornographic junk.
But Twitter is more good than bad overall and also happens to be full of positive stuff and enables responsible adherents all over the world to communicate with each other, emotionally or politically or intellectually or whatever. In a nutshell, Twitter helps millions to share and learn and teach and laugh and be consoled and do business.
OK, so Twitter admins took exception to JUST ONE of President’s Buhari’s tweets – a menacing statement he should have known better than to send – so he decides to throw a wobbly and deprive the entire Nigerian population of Twitter’s multiple benefits?
REALLY?!!! Talk about overreacting, inviting further opprobrium from an increasingly unimpressed press and international community, exposing yourself to endless ridicule from scornful youths (who specialise in creating clever, irreverent social media memes) and digging yourself into a hole it will be hard to climb out of!
Your Excellency Oga Sah, I voted for you in 2015 and was a member of your inauguration committee and still wistfully recall the high hopes I invested in you and still yearn for you to succeed.
I thought that a seasoned military man like you would deal with criminals, bandits and terrorists, no matter where they came from. I thought that we would never again witness scary disgraceful incidents like the abduction of Chibok schoolgirls. I thought that you were the rigidly unmaterialistic type who would aggressively tackle corruption, even if the culprits were your nearest and dearest.
Many of my Niger Delta brethren were understandably disappointed in me for not supporting our brother Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. Many people assured me that you would be a lousy head of state – as in harsh, tribalistic and inept; but I flatly refused to listen.
Why can’t you prove these detractors wrong for your own sake as well as ours…and forget about uncivilised, tinpot dictator posturings.
Why can’t you forget about trivial Twitter dramas and concentrate on fixing this failing state that you are presiding over?!
Many depressed and angry Nigerians are saying that they can hardly bear the thought of another two years of your leadership. The more pessimistic genuinely believe that the country will disintegrate soon.
You CAN change this narrative. It is never too late to say “enough is enough. I want to fulfil my potential and to hell with anyone who stands in my way”. You can set off on a new path NOW.
If you come across as caring and just and focussed, if you deliver prosperity and security and optimism, if you avoid ethnic and religious bigotry, if you actively encourage Nigerians to blend into a united nation, you will earn REAL respect at home and abroad.
Nigerians are not naturally rebellious. Frankly, I’m often amazed at how passive and docile Nigerians are. They don’t, as a general rule, like trouble. And it won’t be very difficult to gain their approval.
Even the South-East that has tried to secede in the past, the South East that didn’t vote for you, the South East you regard as enemy territory and a dangerous den of iniquity, will gratefully fall behind you if you play a fair game and do the right things.
You cannot transform Nigeria into a robust giant of Africa in two years. But you can be seen to be making sincere and strenuous efforts to steer your country in the right direction.
If you do the right things with a competent team, you will leave office with applause ringing in your ears. And wouldn’t that be nice?