In the digital era whose voices are being heard?

February 11, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

By

Nnaemeka Nwangene

Within the enclave of the digital era, the voices which are said to be heard are the voices of the few who are said to be in a lime light other than this, the millions of the voices are not being heard.

Therefore in this digital era, the voices which should be heard should encompass the entire population or at its barest minimum between 80 to 90% of the (an) entire population. This brings us to the view that the voices which should not be heard should be very minute. The question about whose voices are being heard in the digital era is a question that is very pertinent and must be answered wholesomely and in the earnest way possible in other to vote for or against the relevance and significance of the digital era to our various societies and enclaves.

In exploration of the topic, we will look at it from the Local, National and International points of view/levels. At the local level, there exists the traditional authorities, which are recognized by the people but prior to the coming of the colonialists a new authority was instituted which is known as the government or better still the constitutional type of authority. This authority came in with the three tiers of government which are namely: the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary. And at the Local level, the traditional authority is superimposed into the local government level. Therefore, at the local level where we have the traditional authority, everybody’s voice was being heard in every matter that was to be discussed except for cases concerning the exclusive list which has to do with the intertribal wars/clan wars, famine, etc, were left for the various deities to provide a panacea to their problems.

For instance, in the Igbo tribe of Nigeria, it was said that the Igbos do not have a king but is that true? No! It is not true because, the Igbos may not have had a visible king but there exists among them the council of elders which always commune together in times of dispute and at other times. They also have the village square (Ilo) where every first born male of every family in the land come together to deliberate on issues affecting the community. In moments of health crises, the same elders come together alongside the firstborn male of the community to deliberate on their problems and to provide a lasting panacea to the problem confronting them. Most times, the consultations and deliberations take to another level such that the various families get involved and their opinions are not mostly discarded immediately. Also, the various deity priests and priestesses of the various deities in the land are consulted. Therefore, the Igbo tribe in most cases has been used as the best example there is for the display of democracy, which Abraham Lincoln defined as “Government of the people, for the people and by the people.”

But today in the digital era, the voices which are being heard I think, in my own perspective have been scuttled against in varying degrees and proportions in my State, City, Enclaves and Nation. But there is a twist here as a result of time which changes everything. These various scenarios and subjects being portrayed here are mostly in the days of yore. Although some of them are still trending.

In this 21st century, the voices which are being heard are mainly the voices of the politicians and that of his appointees and cohorts. This is because they are the people whom the people gave some part of their sovereign right as posited in the social contract theory. Although, the people still have a right to recall their lawmakers at all levels of government as well as the right to vote  out in the next election, the executive if found wanting at any point in time most especially if it’s in his first tenure in office; otherwise the lawmakers might still do the same on behalf of the people. This is because both parties were elected/chosen as the case may be by the people to represent them at the various levels of Government in which they operate. But one thing has become the bone of contention and that is the lack of or the need for “accountability”; no wonder the people are crying foul because the people whom they gave their mandate are not accountable to them. Although, it’s not everybody but a great number of them.

For instance, is the scenario about a senator who for all through his first, second and third tenure if not for his demise was only able to provide for his community and constituency a trailer load of wheel barrows. And one begins to wonder of all the monies that he gets from the Federal Government, is it just the wheel barrow that he felt would be useful to them? What happened to the provision of good drainage systems, good road networks for transfer of these farm produce from the farm to the urban areas where these farm produce are in high demand, good irrigation canals, fertilizers, pest resistant seedlings for better crop yield for the farmer and most importantly is the money that will accrue to the farmer if these things were given to him. But instead, this senator became more concerned with himself than to the people who gave him their mandate. The irony of this whole thing is in the fact that on his burial day, the wheel barrows were used as road block by the villagers to bar the ambulance and other officials that came with it from coming into the community. Another instance is a fact that has become so very disturbing and alarming and overwhelming. It is a pitiful sight at best description, that medical doctors who should be busy with saving life are so concerned with matters of self loathing and self satisfaction that they go on strike for as long as three, four, five, six months as the case may be, leaving their patients, most of whom are in very critical and life threatening conditions at the mercy of the nurses or at most, at the feet of their deformed relations who try all they can to sustain their beloved sick ones until the striking doctors resumed.

The irony here becomes the phrase in ‘Things Fall Apart’ where the writer Chinua Achebe of blessed memory posits that “Umuofia does not fight a war of blame”. In essence, I am of the view that the doctors going on strike is like a war of blame and their demands will not be met and in its place a memorandum of understanding is adopted. The question here becomes, of what use is the strike when after all said and done only a memorandum of understanding will be signed and the strike will be called off? What happens to the patients who died in the course of their striking and the other patients whose condition at inception was under control but after the strike action became life threatening?

At the world stage, the press have been doing a marvelous, awesome work by bringing to our notice the latent force and talents hidden in the various slums of the world. The world in itself is a very big stage open to everybody but only a few people recognize the opportunities the world throws at them. The world stage is never complete without the various aspects, parts, and performers that take to the world stage to showcase themselves and their various styles and brands through the instrumentality of the press.

For instance, during one of the Nigerian’s got talent shows in recent past, a young boy of about 18 years old showcased a truck which has the ability to lower down for the filling of gravel and discharge or offloading of this gravel; all this is done by the help of a remote control system. This boy dwells in one of the slums in Nigeria but because of the presence of the press, the boy’s little but awesome creation was brought to the limelight at least not for the whole world to see but for the greater number of citizens to see what he has done and appreciate him for doing so. Although in things like this, the country’s government is always lackadaisical in sponsoring such brains and projects and this only lands us in the cold hands of brain drain syndrome. The press is awesome – the press is beautiful.

Looking at the topic, “In the digital era which voices are being heard” as regards to the international level, one could say that information is the live wire upon which the world stands, develops and revolves. Permit me to look at it from two sides of the same coin, the world government side and the world health side. From the world government side, we have the United Nations and inside the United Nations, we have the G5 countries and other G’s and there also exists the United Nations General Assembly. Now, let’s do an analogy of this awesome creation for the sustenance of world peace. In the G5, if any country disagrees, the decision is annulled or adjourned. In the General Assembly, it’s a display of countries and when a case is brought before it and America which happens to be the world power is against that decision, it’s also a dead end so it is with the defunct Soviet Union Head, Russia. Does it mean that there are no other countries there in the United Nations? No, but it is just that the other countries are not seen as powerful and they are not ready to dare the devil yet, and we all know what that means. It means “War” in most cases. ‘In the digital era whose voices are being heard’ in my perspective is that, the other countries whose voices or impact were felt would have to align with the countries whose impact is already being felt in the world and whose voices are being heard in the world.

From the world health side, there are three organs which are involved in this; they are: the Red Cross Society, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO). We will be looking at the first and third on a lighter note but for the second, that is our concern and will be discussed in greater detail.

The Red Cross Society has been of great help in caring for the victims of war and may be in the building of orphanage homes. They have given the injured a reason to hope and live on in life, and in the world at large. The United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural Organization have helped in reducing to a great extent the level of hunger and starvation in some parts of the world such as the Somalian crisis, the Sudan crisis and also in the Iraq war. In these places, they played a major role in times such as these mentioned above. Now, does it mean that there were no other local aids being rendered by local people, or other individuals? No! But the fact is, those who feel they cannot be seen easily align with the already seen, because everybody aligns with success and not failure. The same thing happens with “whose voices are being heard” because everybody has something to say and are looking for and working tirelessly in finding the shortest way or the easiest way possible to voicing out their opinions towards any issue that appeals to them at any given time.

Looking at the World Health Organization and its health facility has been a beehive of activities in the decades past, starting from the testing of various medicines to the mass production and shipping of vaccines for the safety of human beings in their fight against the various ailments that afflict the human body. This is as regards to building a strong and viable immune system. Talking about whose voices are being heard in the digital era, I think it purports that while some voices are being suppressed, some other voices align with the already heard voices and some other voices are not even given a chance to speak, possibly because of the continent they came out from.

For instance, during the fight against Ebola, the worst hit countries were in Africa. During this time, the World Health Organization was very busy with their scientists, likewise every other medical personnel. In fact, the world was in a fix that looked like World War II, but the difference here was that then, it was a country trying to usurp power by every means possible but in this case, it was a health challenge trying to hold everybody to ransom. But did we pay the ransom? Of course we did by the use of the press doing the whole sensitization programme on simple hygiene and the various scientists of different countries standing to the call to create various antidotes for this disease. During this period, a Professor of Medicine from one of the African countries made an honest appeal for people to use a particular herbal plant as an immune booster and was criticized very deeply, all because she was not from any of the already known authorities in medical science. If however there was a level playing ground for everybody at this time, she would have been welcomed and asked to explain to us in greater detail what this herbal plant can do in the case of the Ebola health crisis that we have been bedeviled by.

Finally, ‘In the digital era whose voices are being heard’, in my perspective is that other countries whose voices or impact are not being felt would have to align with countries who represent the interests of the greater percentage of the world on that issue in order to make their voices heard by the world. This is because in the heat of the Nigerian Biafran Civil War, Dr. Njoku Obi invented the cholera vaccine and today, we are enjoying the fruit of his labour as regards to immunity to cholera in the body. This therefore, means that Dr. Njoku Obi is one of the few people who took to the world stage to showcase his own latent ability and capability. Time changes everything. That your voice or our voices are not being heard today does not mean that they won’t be heard tomorrow.

In recommendation, I recommend that voices which have decided to speak out should be given a fair hearing without any prejudice and bias of any kind/manner and form.

In conclusion, I would say in my opinion that in the digital era whose voices are being heard is a matter of what kind of situations or problems that confront us and that would determine the number of voices to be heard at any given time, space and period.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nnaemeka Nwangene

i am a writer. i am a Nigerian.

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