Brekete family signifies hope, out of despair
In Abuja, in the heart of Nigeria`s capital city, something has been happening for years, and with each session broadcast into Nigeria`s air, long polluted by injustice and inequity, yet another audience is captivated, left transfixed by an unbridled embrace of Nigeria`s neediest.
As the BBC documentary which captured the moment a man some of Nigeria`s neediest call the “Ordinary President”, and for many of them the only president they know, slapped a woman hard across the face, aired; the Brekete Family, a reality radio and television programme focused on human rights, was convulsed by a chorus of condemnation.
The NBC was to move in a characteristic haste reserved only for those who put the government on pins and needles to suspend the radio station for one month. In the intervening one month, many of Nigeria`s neediest looked forlornly to the radio station that had become empty, and the courts shut by JUSUN strike and felt their hopes wither.
The programme and its iconic founder, Ahmed Isah, have since made a triumphant return and the queues have continued to form. But who are those who stride the grounds of the programme occasionally threatening to stampede the place with the weight of some of Nigeria`s most poignant failures? It is the poorest Nigerians, those failed by country, kith and kin. It is Nigerians who have not just known deprivation but have seen even the rags covering their nakedness torn away by ruthless fingers.
It is Nigerians who have watched their judiciary become a jamboree for jokers and their legislature a lair of larceny. It is Nigerians who have watched their executive become an ensemble of executioners. Those are the Nigerians who throng the grounds of the programme asking a man like them to importune some of Nigeria`s most powerful and power-drunk to respect their rights.
It is underserved Nigerians that throng the grounds of the programme seeking succor. There are people calling into programme from all over the country and even beyond, and countless have been assisted by someone like them and the team he has put together.
What happens at the Brekete Family is a sobering expose of Nigeria`s most inexplicable failures, and the power of everyday Nigerians to take control of their own destinies and wrest control of the country away from those determined to steer it into a bottomless hole.
Nigerians have been to hell and back since the country attained independence in in1960. Successive military coups rocked the country and although the country has enjoyed uninterrupted democracy since 1999, corruption, its Siamese twin of bad leadership and their cohorts have conspired to ensure that Nigeria continues to stew in stagnation.
Over the years, as wide cracks have appeared in Nigeria`s foundation with frightening frequency, many Nigerians have fallen through. Many have lost their lives to the insidious insecurity that sweeps through the country like a hurricane; many have lost limbs and livelihoods to insecurity; too many Nigerians have lost everything and it does not appear that things are about to improve any time soon.
Hope is what is given at no cost at the radio station. There, hope, that priceless commodity which the Nigerian government has failed to transmit to its citizens, is given for nothing. What is happening at the Brekete Family is nothing short of remarkable. It shows that Nigerians can really and truly look out for each other; it shows the power ordinary Nigerians have to make a difference no matter how little.
There have been mounting accusations that what happens in the programme is mostly media trial as well as the usurpation of the powers of properly constituted authorities in the country, like the judiciary. However, for all the wrong that goes on there, the heaviest buck must rattle the tables of all those complicit in the yawning cracks that run riot across the creaky foundations of the country.
As things continue to go awry in the county, everyday Nigerians will do well to remember that changing the country may not necessarily require a revolution or elaborate political campaign. All it requires is the sum of many little but genuine efforts.
Obiezu wrote from Abuja.