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‘Lie, lie,’ as cornerstone of govt policy and programme


Fulani Herdsmen. PHOTO: Issouf Sanogo (AFP/File)

In local Nigerian parlance, stratagem or the plan for deceiving otherwise trustful people is rendered euphoniously and even metaphorically as “lie, lie” or “connie, connie” (both of them amusing and melodious phraseology for graphically depicting the foible of cunningness, craftiness or guile). The Nigerian political or governmental practice has been largely characterised, particularly these four or so years, by an observable trend in posturing or cunningness by officials of state. These ones have perfected the art of refusing to take personal responsibility for their bumbling, blundering trajectory even as they lament or heap their failures on some extraneous or exogenous circumstance, situation or personage. As is normal with the nature and manner of a facile or convenient resort to lie-telling, every excuse or reason for the happening of one event or another, embarrassingly conflicts with an earlier expressed position taken on the same subject matter. Two or three clear indications are visibly discernible. The actors are not unanimous in their explanation of the occurrence of the event for which they speak for the same principal; they operate at cross purposes; and they betray their lack of co-ordination in a situation where coherence is key. For them, to begin to take personal responsibility is also to begin to recognise or admit that Nigeria is on the verge of a self-annihilating precipice even as they are in charge. Courage is up-turned as integrity no longer counts and little store is set for accuracy.

The Boko Haram scourge, the Fulani herdsmen militia siege, the continuing rising political tension in the land, the visible fractious division among the nation’s ethnic nationalities, the provoked or aroused anger among our teeming jobless youth population, the unabating indignity being suffered by pensioners or persons who have duly paid their civic dues, the requirement to put the country back on track respecting the practice of true federalism, etc. are all live matters requiring the decisive intervention of a responsive, guile-less government. President Buhari has, in an opinion unique for its indifference to the state of siege in which Nigeria has been subjected to persistent violent attacks by some sectarian forces with the intention of forcing her to surrender to their whims or strange ideology, unabashedly informed his august audience in London that the spate of violent attacks on sleepy communities in several states of Nigeria resulting in thousands of dead, maimed and displaced people was masterminded by the late Libyan strongman, Moammer Gadaffi. We are strangely learning that Gadaffi who died some seven years ago is responsible for our woes, even as an independent sovereign state. Gadaffi is Buhari’s fall guy!


Buhari’s puzzlingly alien reason for what is truly the Fulani herdsmen militia affront, for instance, has set the whole world buzzing for some analytic reconstruction. What are the social bonds of primary significance in the attacked local societies and their relationship with foreign attackers as neighbours, or as people of differing mien or mood? Localism is an important element in both the social experience and the mentality of a people. The diversity of the Nigerian rural society is contained within a strong framework of a desire for national integration. At the most intimately local level, the real strength of social ties must be understood to imply that it could not be disturbed by some nebulous foreign forces. Both the fact of a lack of geographical propinquity and their constellations of local institutions make the interactions of Nigerian and Libyan inhabitants difficult to surmise. Absence of shared relationships, concerns, speech, manners, etc. makes President Buhari’s postulation baseless or unfounded. He may need to provide further proofs. Village communities, the unsparing objects of the Fulani militia men, are not social isolates. It suffices to emphasise that a steady turnover of population even though a vitally important structural characteristic of a local society does not destroy the essential fabric of the community. One not uncommon suggestion is that the principal social bonds within local communities are the ties of kinship. Each is in a sense an aggregate of kinship groups, sometimes co-operating to serve or promote mutual interests, etc. The predominant household form of the simple “nuclear family” consisting of husband, wife and children found in other climes is notable by its comparative rarity among us. Our people live in large and complex households containing resident kin, or even several cohabiting conjugal families. So how is it possible for “Libyans trained to attack Nigerian communities” to live among the locales for so long without being detected or found out by the people?

Buhari’s faus pax is made even more ludicrous by certain verbal expressions involving some peculiarity of manner or idiom. During his visit to Benue State in the wake of the murderous attacks by the herdsmen militia at which many people had been killed or displaced, Buhari preached an impassioned sermon of brotherly accommodation of fellow Nigerians who are legitimately seeking grazing land for their cattle. His Minister of the Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazzau insensitively described the siege on many farming communities as “a (mere) law and order matter.” Other prime members of the President’s government, including the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris have peculiarly re-created the meaning, intendment or objective of the Fulani herdsmen militia attacks just to lead us into a responsive awareness of the “inevitability” of the situation or of our plight.


They all have attempted a re-construction of the series of events, of personages, the spirit of a past age and the evolution of a new cultural conflict scenario. Buhari’s contrived and unconvincing Libyan dimension story is one such effort too many. It is hollow; it is vacuous; it is untrue. In fact, it is capable of further straining the taut diplomatic and other relations between Nigeria and several countries in the Sahel region and beyond.

Historically, stratagem or a plan for deceiving a people or of gaining an advantage over them as a policy of government has been found to be counter-productive. The Goebbelian tactic during the Nazi interregnum in Germany is an eloquent example. The moment the people identify their government as over-indulging in emotion or untruths especially the conscious effort to induce emotion in order for the people to be lulled to sleep or of an over-optimistic emphasis on its ingenuity or prowess even as it demonises others as depraved or incapable of the exercise of good judgement; or of a failure to restrain or evaluate emotion, the people lose their ability to sympathise with the government’s plight. Lie-telling, grand-standing, buck-passing or inability to accept failure or mis-judgement are the concomitant self-repudiation of the people’s projected ingenuity or wizardry of the Buhari government. So much hope and passion had been invested on the APC government. The people have however come to recognise that much hype and an over-promotion of the government and its party have un-subtly de-marketed the presumed prowess of a putative intervention effort and have particularly presented the party as a will-o-the-wisp or as a deceptive contrivance.

Even as righteousness is enjoined to exalt a nation, only truth and an abiding faith in the transcendental goodness of openness and transparency on the part of leaders will endear the people to their government.

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