By Kayode Ketefe
Obafaiye Shem, Lagos State Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps
The internet by now is bursting at its cyber seams with the overblown gaffe of the Lagos State Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), Mr. Obafaiye Shem, who obviously could not recollect the website address of his organisation during a live interview hosted by the Channels television.
The video of this interview, derisively referred to as “My oga at the top” had gone viral while some uncharitable Nigerians had even made it into a comical musical. I heard that t-shirts, face caps and other sartorial items had been made with bold inscription of “My oga at the top” in derisive allusion to the said gaffe.
A pair of young enterprising journalists of Channels had demanded the address of the website and in spite of all the body language of the Commandant that he was at sea on this issue; and his verbal cue that his “ Oga at the top” would be the one to know, the importunate journalists insisted on disclosure, forcing the man to promptly invent an improvised website address that he could not even bring himself to finish pronouncing – it was really embarrassing.
Yes! A top office like a state commandant should ordinarily be expected to know the address of website of his organisation, but if he does not know, I think he should not be crucified. As a state commandant, he has a lot of responsibilities thrust on him in both managerial and administrative spheres that would rank higher in order of priorities than for him to encumber his mind with information that could easily be obtained by glancing at a document or clicking a mouse.
Is it not for this reason that a governor or president usually has a lot of retinue of special advisers and aides to help out on issues that he would be too busy to advert his mind to?
The Commandant’s blunder is obviously a forgivable gaffe which ought not to be overblown beyond proportion. It speaks to the reality of human frailty as all of us at one time or the other have committed greater blunder.
Things like press interview, job interview or cross-examination in court of law are like examination and every examination is very oppressive. You would be too concerned not to commit errors; Have you all forgotten that even a great man like President Obama manifested the mortality of humanity when he mispronounced few wordings during the administration of oath of office to him. The oath had to be re-administered the following day!
What is more important to me is whether or not the man has the capacity and talents to discharge his professional responsibilities creditably well, not whether he could reel out offhand the latest inventions from Microsoft or Apple.
I don’t understand the extent of frustration some Nigerians have been driven to that they would forcibly extricate mirth from fleeting inadequacies of fellow compatriots in absolute callosity to their plight. Ironically if you asked majority of these mocking Nigerians the websites of companies they work for, you would be surprised that the majority would ignorant.
I had once attended an interview when the panel of interviewers shocked me with an unusual approach. Immediately I introduced myself giving personal date and my place of birth, the first question that was hurled at was that I should name the King of my city.
I had expected questions that would test my verbal fluency, quantitative skills, substantive and procedural laws as well as current affairs on local and international issues. Therefore my mind went blank and I told them the name of the monarch was beyond my immediate recollection. The members of the panel burst into laughter.
Eventually, I got the highest score both in the written and oral in that interview. If I had been adjudged incompetent and probably dismissed on the basis of misfiring on that eccentric question, they would not have been able to know my abilities in many other areas.
That is why till today I still believe that the Ministerial nominee who was dropped by the Senate on accounts of answering that “Needs are different from wants” when asked to say what he knew about NEEDS (That is National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy) had been harshly judged; that kind of assessment does not prove anything.
Lest I am misunderstood, I am not making any case for misfits to be installed in public offices, on the contrary I want the process to be so rigorous and comprehensive that nobody who is good will be inadvertently rejected and vice versa.
We would all remember how some top military officers, during one of the past military regimes, would visit public institutions and accost any worker with the demand to recite national anthem or national pledge.
Inability to do this fetched summary dismissal from work! I adjudged this to be sheer callousness, how can you brush aside the whole of a person’s skills and competencies acquired through many years of formal training and judge him by a mere ten-second recital of a ceremonious mantra?
I believe in total and compressive assessment of a person, not frivolous appraisal, to determine the person’s suitability, worthiness and overall credibility. That is why I believe explosion of jests and callous ridicule being heaped on the Lagos NSCDC Commandant is absolutely unfair.
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