Who can ignore the excitement and radical thrust of the new intellectual Diaspora? There is something elevating as we daily witness the irrepressible passion and single-mindedness of a growing collection of intelligent Nigerians as they vocalise and construct expatriation narratives of the damaged political and social values of Nigeria on robust blogs based in the Diaspora. There is something ennobling in this self-encouraging mandate to contribute holistic solutions to the unending problems that are tearing away at the fabric of the Nigerian state.
The emergence of a disparage coalition of agenda-driven intellectuals based abroad offers a hopeful take on our body politics. These pursuers of enlightenment rationalism are driven by the force of patriotism to encourage terrain of ideas, break down iron law of oligarchy and hegemony as tactical necessity of neutralising old assumptions and opening up deaf ears to Nigeria’s urgent and changing needs.
It is an incontestable fact that Nigeria’s high level emigration has given rise to a phenomenon known as brain drain. However, time has changed brain drain to brain gain or bank as we see in the global blogospheres where Nigerian train ideas. We also have to accept that intellectual of all walks of life are restless, creative, lateral thinking rule breakers. They combine an astonishing capacity for visionary thinking with an appetite for moral energy and direction. In this regard, it is safe to recast Nigeria as a manifestly unjust country with disabling inner contradictions and failings. It is these failings that is galvanising the committed intellectual Diaspora in their intellectual and confrontational discourse. Democracy has rebranded Nigeria as a country where the accumulation of privileges and political illiteracy has replaced pragmatism and intelligent governance. The intellectual Diaspora is standing up to be counted in its mission to radically confront political charlatans and the counterfeit with the genuineness of their purpose.
In Nigeria, for democracy to be relevant, it must respond to public opinion and must have its foundation on clear values and clear understanding of the aspiration of Nigerians and what motivates them. Unfortunately, politics has degenerated into a balancing of interests and mass stealing of the commonwealth of all Nigerians. Therefore, if our intellectuals shy away from this intellectual responsibility of freeing Nigeria from demonic leadership, then our people will grow more despondent, they will develop fatalism while the destiny of this nation falls further into the hands of rapacious, opportunist cabal scattered across Nigeria. Therefore, the intellectual Diaspora should be the key agents for bringing in sophisticated political knowledge and stimulating social attitudes favourable to liberal democracy and serfdom emancipation.
Nigeria has been experiencing negative evolution for 48 years. That evolution has stunted our capacity to grow into a nation of abundance, equitable spread of petro-wealth as well as develop our capacity to be the true giant of Africa. What has come to shape our collective drive is a highly developed instinct for graft, reckless pillage of public of money and bastardisation of public office. By comparison to other continents, we all recognise how development and material progress have been black Africa’s scarcest commodities. Nigeria is a truly blessed country but brought to heel by its leaders and the complacency of the ruled. The new mandate of the intellectual Diaspora should be to reverse the unbroken trend towards inequality, oppression and tyranny of the few against compliant majority. If the profound material gains wrought by globalisation are continued to be mismanaged by our leader-vampires, if our petro-wealth is not spread out through socially uplifting infrastructures and egalitarian symbols, then atavistic extremists will have their chance, sooner than latter.
Bizarrely our politicians are unaware that politics has to be more than technocratic; that it has to be about ideals as well as about practicalities and how to connect specifics with values and strategy. The mandate of the intellectual Diaspora should be the desire to improve the terrain of public forum through opportunities for rational discourse and encouragement of social democracy to further deepen our nascent democratic values. They should seek to achieve genuine equality between our tribes, nationalities and sexes. It is undeniable that the future belongs to those who are best able to convey, absorb and apply knowledge. The future also belongs to those who could turn against our ignoble past, refashion the present, while negotiating the future with visionary exactitude. It is true that societies with strong sense of the future bring out the best in people. The intellectual Diaspora should welcome constructive debates both from traditionalists and dissenters without fallen hostage to prescriptive isms.
It has been said that we live in a runaway world that keeps throttling furiously to uncertain destination. The Diaspora-based intellectuals must not be immune to all the excitements that life and living currently offer. The intellectual Diaspora must plug in to recapture a sense of urgency and reconstructive narrative that Nigeria direly needs. Centuries ago, intellectuals of all suasions felt that they were part of a great narrative of enlightenment and civilisational progress but the gains were partial, as Africa’s intellectual voice was drained by the twin evils of slavery and colonialism.
Yet for all the hobbles that truncate Africa’s emerging intellectual tradition, the new intellectual Diaspora should boldly rejoin the richness of modern moral argument and if need be, shoot from the rooftop, all the specious lies about black Africa’s intellectual pedigree. Sadly there are clearly define enemies of intellectual Diaspora….neo-colonialism, tribalism, intellectual extremism, clan self-interest, political inflexibility and obsession with anarchic tendency which in the end is the enemy of liberty, freedom, equality and unity.
The attentive Nigeria’s public realm could be reclaimed through the energetic cultivation of civic responsibility of accountability, fairness, inclusion, respect, tolerance, moral excellence and unity of purpose. Let our intellectuals hound out corrupters of our society from their fortress communities and employ reasoned argument to halt the shameless accumulation of privileges at the top. To our ruining class who have held Nigeria hostage for 48 years and balkanised her economic, material, social, political and cultural resources, the intellectual Diaspora must be their virtual, unsmiling assassins.
The new intellectual Diaspora, in spite of its intimidating presence should not foster a terrorist-hostage relationship with its readers and audience. Nigeria is a relatively large public space and within that space, let the Diaspora-based intellectuals cram in their reasoned visions, aspirations, opinions, argument and disagreements. In a way, the new intellectual Diaspora should be seen as shorthand for a broad movement of ideas that is billed to trigger change in our polity, inform, enlighten and reform.
This new breed of men and women with fresh thinking and who constitute the intellectual Diaspora should be expansive in their modus operandi and accommodate all competing philosophical abstractions, from the weeping liberals who bemoan the spectacular fall of Nigeria from grace to grass, and the hardened conservatives who have vowed to maintain the status quo with little or no regard for real change.