WEEKEND ARENA

Nigeria’s art of romanticising lies, deceit and injustice

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For the umpteenth time, another grievous warning has come to the people of Nigeria and the government that serious danger is ahead, if urgent steps are not taken to address certain issues in the polity. Earlier in the week, the British Government, one of the great allies of the county, added its voice to the situation. But as usual, the politicians, especially those on the dining table as holding political power portends in Nigeria, are dismissing their warnings as a prophecy of doom. Like they usually believe, the country would rise above it, like she had done in the past. Great optimism buoyed by greed, this stance only illustrates a political class that is insensitive and lacks understanding of what the issues are, or pretends not to know…

The country’s biggest challenge, it seems, is the ignoble habit to promulgating lies, injustice and deceit as if they are part of state policy. A case which typically illustrates this came to the fore recently with the nomination of Lauretta Onochie as one of the commissioners in the Independent National Electoral Commission. The nomination has generated a lot of worries amongst Nigerians, who argue that the woman, who serves as the Senor Special Assistant to the President on Social Media is too partisan to be saddled with the role of sitting in INEC in that capacity. Ideally, the concerns would have been enough to trigger a withdrawal of that nomination, but nobody did. Nobody cares. In fact, to shove it down everyone’s throat, she was at the Senate for screening and gleefully told the whole world that she was not a member of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, APC. Amusing as that sounded in an electronic age where data could be retrieved with spontaneity, details of her membership surfaced online. Apart from the leaking of ‘membership register’ of her ward in Delta, which has her name as number 2, an oath she swore, proclaiming herself a member of the party equally came online; and surprisingly, 24 hours after this seeming act of perjury, nobody has deemed it fit to invite her for questioning, which contradicts the element of fairness that many have been talking about. It is most unlikely that someone who is not in the good books of the government would escape this. We all remember what happened to the likes of Justice Onogheghen, the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Senator Bukola Saraki, the former Senate President and Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, when she purportedly fell out with the administration, prompting Senator Shehu Sani’s famous expression about ‘fighting corruption with deodorants and insecticides’.

This tilted attitude is also replaying in the secessionists’ struggles. The likes of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho would ordinarily not have earned the popularity they are enjoying today, if not for the state-created imbalances in the polity.  As a matter of fact, majority of Igbos and Yorubas started seeing these folks as freedom fighters because the state authorities have literally been ‘soft’ on the organised criminal gangs making life unbearable for people in the north east and northwest. South East today is under siege, with military and police checkpoints mounted every 5 kilometers apart in a region that is relatively free from the sort of violence being witnessed in a state like Kaduna, where the abduction has extended to children in nursery schools, yet the bandits do their abductions and move ‘leisurely’ through hundreds of kilometers only for some self-appointed negotiators to intervene by helping to facilitate ransoms for the release of the abductees. Today, hunger looms large, because members of criminal herders have made farming a risky business in the food-producing basins on the country and none of them has been punished adequately for this.

In spite of the negative predictions by these foreign nations, the beautiful thing is that they have consistently mentioned steps that could be taken to nip the danger in the bud. Two words have been touted-equity and justice. No system thrives on injustice, no matter how one tries to suppress it, it would wear a new cloak and resonate at the slightest opportunity. The government and the politicians must rise and tell themselves the truth to save everyone from the impending calamity as being envisaged by these foreign powers. Their intelligence would have given them feelers of what is lurking around the corners; after all, they are aware of the over 4 million guns reported to have been smuggled illegally into the country. The powers that be should stop romanticising deceit and lies and deliver fairness to every citizen of this country. Nigerians interact well at the social level, not minding the ethnic divides. This is evident in the markets from Mile 12, Onitsha, Aba and Kano to Idumota and Alaba, where the various ethnic groups do their businesses without rancour. This can be replicated from the political circles but the drivers must wear the garment of nationalism for this to come to fruition.