Lauretta Onochie and the Ephemerality of Outrage – By Farooq Kperogi


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There’s something I call the ephemerality and impotence of outrage in Nigeria that Nigerian government officials intimately understand and routinely exploit to the maximum advantage, which often ensures that they ride roughshod over basic decency and get away with it without any consequence.

By ephemerality of outrage I mean the transience of anger over boneheaded government policies, the fleeting nature of indignation over injustice, and the impermanence of initially energetic coalitions that emerge episodically to fight against unpopular government decisions.

Impotence of outrage simply means the absolute ineffectiveness of the perpetual temporariness of dissent and resistance over particular policies and issues.

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This is how it often goes: The government comes out with an outrageously thoughtless policy, or a government official is caught in an otherwise career-ending scandal, or suchlike outrage-generating matter. For a few days, there’ll be frenetic online chatter and intense media coverage, and situational pressure groups will emerge to make demands on the government.

A few days later, another scandal emerges— or is engineered by the government— or people just get fatigued, and outrage over the previous scandal recedes into nothingness until the next scandal comes, which follows the same cycle as the previous one.

That’s precisely why the government chose to scandalize the moral sensibility of the nation by appointing a vile, rabid APC partisan like Lauretta Onochie as an INEC commissioner in violation of the constitution. They know their act will instigate the predictable evanescent outrage on social media, inspire the emergence of momentary but impotent protest groups, invite intense news media coverage, and then blow over without any change.

The day a critical mass of Nigerians decides to stay the course on an issue or a scandal and resist the seduction of the next scandal, this will stop. I don’t know when that will be. But this is a good time to start.

*Kperogi is a US-based Nigerian academic

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