Until sometime in March this year when the former Lagos State Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Mr. Shem Obafaye, featured on a Channels Television interview programme, “Sunrise”, the phrase, My Oga at the Top, did not mean much to Nigerians.Culled from National Mirror Newspaper
It simply passed as the description of a boss in Pidgin English. However, the circumstance in which the phrase was used and the forum gave it and its “exponent” as instant fame.
Obafaye, who was asked to give the website of the NSCDC had faltered, insisting that only “My Oga At The Top” could give the right website. And even when he finally decided to give one, he could not complete it.
The celebrity that the NSCDC boss became was almost immediate. The fame did spread like wild fire and many cashed in on it to enrich themselves. Before one could say Jack Robinson, some smart individuals had gone to town, emblazoning t-shirts with the latest phrase in town – My Oga at the Top- and making good money from it.
It was also a topic for the dance hall too as disc jockeys remixed it, creating some interesting tunes with it. In offices, almost everybody henceforth referred to their bosses as “My Oga at the Top.”
To say that the interview from which the phrase emanated was an embarrassment to the NSCDC is an understatement. May be if the said interview was not a live programme of a visual media, the damage wouldn’t have been that severe.
Many were not just shocked by the outing but expected the end of the road for the security boss. But the para- military agent was not only smart about the ordeal, they were equally considerate, hence, his transfer to the Oyo State command of the security agency.
“He was not redeployed as a form of punishment.” NSCDC Public Relations Officer, Mr. Emmanuel Okeh had said. Even if there was no official statement that Shem was punished, it was obvious that his transfer was a face-saving exercise.
Shem swapped position with his Oyo State counterpart, Mr Adesuyi Clement. Like the brave soldier that he is meant to be, Obafaye rose promptly to the newest demand of his job and resumed work at Ibadan, his new duty post.
And waxing stoic, he told a daily newspaper in a telephone conversation: “I am determined to serve in Oyo State and I know God will help me.”
Ever since he was posted to Oyo State, however, Obafaye has been quiet. At least, no word has since come from him, either over the “My Oga at the top” issue or any other.
This leaves many to wonder what is happening to the now very popular NSCDC boss. Countless questions beg for answers. How did he take the instant fame that he has got?
Has he settled down since he resumed in Oyo State and did he feel good about his posting? How was the issue taken by his bosses and the command he headed?
How was the issue taken in the new command he heads? Indeed, many are certainly still dying to know what manner of man “My Oga at the Top” is.
With the same amount of curiosity taking the better part of this reporter, getting answers to the questions became irresistible, hence a trip down to Ibadan where “My Oga at the Top” works. But how do you get to answer some of these questions without the knowledge of the subject is one task.
Getting him to talk at the end of the day is another. Locating the office of “My Oga at the top” at Iyaganku area adjacent to the Police Command in Ibadan, on Thursday, July 18, 2013 wasn’t an arduous task. Entering the office, however, seemed not as easy as envisaged.
Right at the main entrance were about five to six officers of the command in their blue and red uniforms standing with the firm and serious appearance that is commonly identified with military officials. There were no visible arms but no one dared enter without being quizzed.
The environment throbbed with excitement. On both sides of the roads were shopping complexes occupied by men and women in all kinds of businesses and directly opposite the office is an untarred road that leads to an area called Alalubosa Estate.
The road in front of the office, currently under construction, also took its toll on road users, especially with the rain that was said to have been falling heavily for about 16 days.
Although most of the traders around were yet to have full information of the kind of person the new boss of the security agency is, as he is still very new, they were quick to speak about the orderliness of the officers in recent times.
One woman who sells house wares in one of the shopping complexes said “I do not know the new boss physically as he has barely arrived, but I can tell you the man is a disciplined man.
Ever since he came, we have seen that the officers are regularly at the entrance more than how it used to be. They also appear more up and doing. May be this is because they now have a new boss and they are yet to understand him.”
Another man, who simply wanted to be known as Bayo said he hadn’t noticed any negative thing from the agency in recent time. “I would say they have all been working well together. Why would they want to work against their boss if they would not want to lose their jobs?
And from the way we see them from afar, everyone is buckling down to work because they do not know the kind of person the man is. Forget about My Oga at the Top, as far as I am concerned, tightening their belt is just normal.
The man would not want any laxity at this delicate time. So, all of them are working more than before. Even if they will relax, I am sure it won’t be now,” Bayo pointed out. The officers at the gate were not hostile but discharged their duties as strictly as expected. None was however ready to discuss their new boss.
When at the end this reporter got two to speak, they did so under anonymity and resentment: “I don’t know what you people want us to say or what you want the poor man to do again. Just because he forgot something, you are jubilating and spreading it all around. Who cannot make mistakes? Are you saying you people are perfect? No one is perfect except God.
You should be considerate whenever you are discharging your duties. I am sure these Channels people have forgotten that they don’t need to rubbish anyone to get popular themselves and they cannot think of coming to the man again. What if this had cost him his job, will they have been happy?
“I am always surprised at the way you people are excited about negative stories. Of the entire lengthy interview that they had with him, it was only where he erred that they put on the internet.
It is unfair. What do you want me to say now? The man is new and what would you want me to do to my superior? We all give our due respect to him and our duties.
“He is a good person and I tell you he has not even transferred any pain to us should he have any. He is an officer and I tell you, he is going about his duties as bravely and diligently as it is expected of him.
We are all giving all the support he deserves. Story or no story, an officer is an officer and a superior is a superior any day,” he said.
Another officer who also spoke under anonymity said: “I must tell you the truth that Oga is very respectful, up and doing and keeps an open office. He may be new here but I have followed him quite closely even before now.
He keeps an open office and like I said, he is nice to everyone. It is because of his openness to everyone that he was able to fall into the hands of people who would capitalise on his mistake now.
Before, he wouldn’t keep any strict routine where the media was concerned. If you wanted to speak with him, he is free. Why? Because had no skeleton in his cupboard. But it is unfortunate that it has to be like this.
All the same, that has not affected him in any way. He is going about his duties as expected and we have no problems with him,” he said too.
But while Obafaye may not be having it tough with his staff, a trader around his office who identified himself simply as Alhaji Teru saw it from another angle.
According to him, the whole show might have a political undertone afterall. “I smell a rat in all of these. You know that his position as the Lagos Commandant can never be the same as the position in Ibadan.
It definitely must have attracted better benefits than whatever this new one will come with. I want to think some people might have set him up because I don’t see any big deal in someone forgetting a website. It may just be the work of his enemies.
Somebody may want him out of the office in Lagos and the person might have achieved his aim. But thank God, his error did not finally get him out of the job.
It is just a personal opinion. This is Nigeria, anything can happen. It is just unfortunate that he played into their hands,” he said.
For Olu, a receptionist at a nearby hotel, Nigerians should learn a lesson or two from the whole episode. “There is a lesson for everyone in all of these. The man is a good guy but he is not tactical enough.
May be he should have just told them to move to the next question since he wasn’t sure of his answers. But the lesson here is everyone should seek knowledge of what he is doing and what is hot or currently going on. We should not just be laid back or be contented with the little we know.
We should aspire to know more because we don’t know when it will be needed. For those who put it on the internet, I want to say it is not good enough.
The image of the nation, I can assure you, is negatively projected. We are like telling people out there that our top officials are not right to be there.
This is not fair, we shouldn’t celebrate people’s down fall,” he advised. With the much gathered about “My oga at the top”, this reporter went into one of the offices in the building to see him, but was directed to the office of the corps Public Relations Officer situated in one of the one-story buildings within the compound.
Both the boss and the publicist were not around. But the Assistant PRO, Mr Segun Odedina, was on seat. Upon request to see the Commandant, Odedina who asked for the identity of the reporter later disclosed that Obafaye was not around and would not be around till the next week.
“Would you drop your contact number for a formal interview soonest?” An agreement was therefore reached and he promised to call the reporter when his boss returns. Saturday Mirror will be waiting for that call.