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Perfidy of intellectual fraud

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

There is a saying among the Igala people of Kogi State which I find most relevant to the current state of affairs in the country. It is a belief widely held that while there may be cure for madness, there is absolutely no cure for stupidity. I am not in a position to disprove this.

But there is something I find interesting in the desperate, though commendable efforts of the Federal Government to curb hate speech through the instrumentality of the law. I liken hate speech to madness, a roaring lunacy which though bad as it may be, has some antidote, a hope for cure.  I like to look at hate speech and chronic intellectual dishonesty as twin evils that seem bent on setting this country on fire.

While the one can be tackled, hopefully by law, what is the cure for the other – this intellectual fraud that blinds its sufferers to anything good in our seemingly hopeless situation, made more hopeless by the duplicity of the elite, the same people who promote and nurse intellectual dishonesty for purely selfish purposes, the same people who defend fraud and corruption on the basis of ethnicity and promote folly and insanity as a weapon of attack on perceived enemies.

Those who have found cure for hate speech, the vice-president and company, believe religiously in the efficacy of these drugs. They believe that this wonder drug, this same anti-terrorism therapy, would do well to restore calmness to hate speech patients and hopefully cure them or kill them a la the Boko Haram terrorists.

Some people have rightly expressed worry that this therapy would impinge on free speech. I doubt it, though I am totally against any attempt to curb freedom of speech. But on close examination, it is not difficult to see that what this drug seeks to curb is not freedom of speech; it is targeted at the licence by hate mongers to set the country on the path of the Ruwandan genocidal madness of the early 90s. And no responsible government will take it.

I was reading Abdulrasaq Hamzat the other day and I found what he was saying in defence of a special anti-hate speech law very interesting. He is the executive director of Foundation for Peace Professionals. Like Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Abdulrasaq sees hate speech “as an act of emotional terrorism done with the intention of injuring, damaging or inciting a person or group of persons… an ant peace advocacy or an act to cause mass disruption of personal emotional peace.”

And we have seen lots of this in recent times. We have seen videos of so called men of God ordering their followers from the pulpit to kill and maim those they have reasons to disagree with. We have seen on the social media otherwise responsible people using unprintable words to describe fellow human beings as animals in the zoo just because they cannot stand their guts. As it happened in 1966, prior to the civil war, hate songs have become viral, all in attempts to set one ethnic group against another ethnic group. Human beings are called animals and the whole country is regarded as one vast zoo. Even in the real animal kingdom there must be some elements of decency. I hope the therapy works.

But can the same thing be said of those elements who think they have the monopoly of intellectualism and can deploy it any which way they want – even if in a disingenuously fraudulent manner? Intellectuals can say publicly that revoking Nmadi Kanu’s bail conditions- because he has violated them – is an evil agenda and is simply a northern affair.

I don’t know how many of you  are following the latest interventions of Simon Kolawole in the long running drama with casts that feature some of yesterday’s men of honour  who now seem comfortably lost in self –inflicted  amnesia because they cannot find emotional  and psychological peace unless and until  the country is remade in their own image.

And they seem to want to throw everything into the battle, religious, ethnic and even their self-respect. Thick political blinkers seem to blind them to reality. They thus see jihad and some other assorted holy wars in the offing. They see through the narrow prism of mischief a new and more perfidious attempt to Islamise the whole country. And with them the bogey of Hausa- Fulani domination, a permanent state of affairs, has gotten an added fillip under the current dispensation, as if to stay that in every state of this country today there is an Hausa-Fulani governor with the full compliment of the babaringa adorning cabinet members.

The country, as it is today, cannot make progress, we have been told, because of the military imposed constitution. Kolawole, in a commendable journalistic intervention, has sought to shine some light on the proposition that everything that is wrong today is wrong because we have the wrong constitution imposed on us by the military just the way they imposed themselves on us from 1966. But the question is: with this helpful reminder, can they now see the duplicity of their position?

It is clear that from 1976 to date no constitution has been imposed on the country by the generals. And I am surprised that those who participated in giving birth to the accused 1999 constitution have not spoken up to clear their names. They, in fact, can sue Kolawole for linking them with this so called satanic document. But they will not speak up. It is politically not correct for them to do so. Not even the respected Professor Akin Oyebode who helped to mid-wife the bastard constitution of 1999 but who recently had no qualms in publicly lambasting the same document?

But that will not settle any matter. There have also been ear-splitting noise about lopsided appointments into the Federal Civil Service and the marginalisation of some ethnic groups in favour of others, apparently those anointed by God. For whatever it is worth, there is data to show the number of civil servants and their spread state by state. Incidentally those who cry loudest are the most favoured and, inversely, those who are perceived to be the anointed of God are the least favoured. But never mind, the gods are not angry.

The beauty of crooked intellectualism, it would seem, is that it leaves no room for decency. I wouldn’t be surprised, therefore, if by tomorrow, there are stringent denials by those favoured by the appointments. But if they don’t deny the figures – and why will they? –  they will provide untenable justification for their dominance in the civil service – how can you ever forget that some of them are in fact, the best and the brightest while some of the others are there to fill a quota or make up the statistics.

Does the law against hate speech provide relief for the injured? And the victims of callous propaganda, the brain child of the aforementioned crooked and fraudulent intellectualism, what reliefs are available to him? Except perhaps to pay them back in their own coins. A balance of terror, may be.

But my fear is that the viciousness of a counter-attack can have more serious and more lasting repercussion for the peace and security of the country. In which case, I recommend that the egg heads in government who are worried to death by the evil effects of hate speech would have to put on their thinking caps again and come out with a novel and creative solution to this perfidy. And the sooner, the better.



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