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14 Feb Written by  Ladi Opaluwa

The Blog of Fleeting Good Intentions

Sometime last year I was thinking of starting a blog. But that may be stating it too grandly, considering that it was an obsessive thought to which I was merely a conductor. I was occupied with the idea of blogging to create awareness on the Freedom of Information Act, on the basis of materials from a booklet on the subject that the National Orientation Agency had published and left in stacks in various places.

The Act gives the public such privileges that it felt sad that they should be left undistributed, unread. Everyone, according to the Act, can access any information or record – subject to specific exemptions – in the custody of any public institution or private institution utilising public funds, performing public functions or providing public services, and such person is entitled to receive such information within seven days of request and is not even obliged to state any specific interest in the information being applied for.

It would be an enlightenment campaign blog to analyse and discuss the provisions of the Act; an interactive forum for the documentation of experiences in trying to obtain the report of abuses and all sorts of discontent among Nigerians.

Some months later I was at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre at a roundtable discussion on the implications of freedom of speech within the context of the law. The roundtable was organised by The Kukah Centre, Abuja. Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah noted that hatred could be propagated under the cover of free speech, saying that what constitutes a person’s freedom of expression as provided by the constitution might sometimes incite hatred and violence in the masses and opened the floor for one of those conversations that keep going in circles and never move forward.

As people of varying ethnic and religious backgrounds were present, discussants were suspicious of one another and comments seemed to just blatantly address a previous speaker’s supposed regional or religious bias, with finger pointing on each side going back and forth.

As the meeting came to an end, someone suggested that ‘indigenship’ and the practice of federal character should be deleted from the constitution. That struck me as the panacea to all of Nigeria’s problems. There I thought I had found my life’s mission: pushing for the amendment of the constitution to that effect. Only it seemed like a mission impossible.

Since then, I have boarded a cab with a boy no more than ten years old going home at about 9 p.m. from the city centre where he had come to hawk. I thought of taking my journey further to Suleja where he was headed to ascertain his living conditions and then report his parents or guardians to the social welfare board. But then I thought, saving little boys from wicked stepmothers is the duty of superheroes. I paid his fare and prayed he got home safely.

I have thought of donating some of my books to an orphanage, books that have been read and will never be reread and books that I am certain I will never get round to reading. Living in such an isolated environment as these children do, they need books to feed them with exotic experiences. But orphanages have more urgent needs than books.

The launch of Studio 24 Red Card to Rape foundation was another occasion to think of championing the campaign against rape, but that course has many advocates already.

One December many years ago, my sister and I had concluded plans to take HIV/AIDS campaign to our hometown. It was a very complex plan. We would bring experts from the city to lecture the community on all aspects of the disease, there would be free counselling and testing and so on. As Christmas neared I thought, well, NACA is doing a great job of that already.

And most recently, listening to Mrs Ibukun Awosika speak passionately at the Harvard Business School Association of Nigeria's lecture on the need for engaged citizenship aroused in me the anger needed to fight corruption, but my rage was doused shortly after by a glass of wine.

It’s hard to admit that perhaps all the good I am capable of is giving N20 to the roadside beggar with an obvious disability. So now I am thinking, maybe it is time to really start the blog. There is no framework for it as yet, but an aggregate blog that would be a platform for all fleeting good intentions, and perhaps be subtitled An Activist of General Courses. It would be an interactive platform for the report of abuses and all sorts of discontent among Nigerians. Knowing my irreverence for tasks that have no deadline, I am aware that this blog will exist only in the fantasy realm. But the intention should count for something.