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Uncomfortable safety

By Matthew Agboma Ozah
10 November 2021   |   2:58 am
It was the German propagandist, Josef Geobbels who asserted that telling a lie a thousand times and it becomes the truth. Over the years, such has become a tradition in Nigeria’s politics.

It was the German propagandist, Josef Geobbels who asserted that telling a lie a thousand times and it becomes the truth. Over the years, such has become a tradition in Nigeria’s politics. Many a politician would feel greater confidence to tell a lie in order to discredit political opponents. In most cases, the government in power plays on the masses’ intelligence to lie, in order to look like a saint.

The simple truth about this shenanigan is that Nigerians are quite irritated by some baffling political statements. Indeed, it was the late Afro-beat musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti who characterised such comments in one of his critical songs as ‘government magic’. Of course, Nigerians cannot but be mystified by the way in which some politicians make reckless comments on matters with national security implications.

Currently, to judge by the accounts and incidences of insecurity in the country, It would take the head of a camel to pass through the eye of a needle to find Nigerians who would agree with the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, that the nation is safer today.

Without mincing words, banditry and kidnapping have not only made Nigerians uncomfortable. It has ranked the country as one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Undoubtedly, the reports and visual images of killings and destructions across the country provide a scary illustration of how a beautiful theory can be murdered by a gang of brutal facts. The theory is that Nigerians were judged as one of the happiest people on planet earth. A country that any visitor at first contact would call home because the people seem ‘fetish’ being very receptive and its climate is loved at the first experience. A nation where investors make huge returns of their investment in the shortest possible time due to its huge human capital and serene atmosphere. A people known for their ever jolly life as religion, tribe or culture is never seen as a barrier to mingle. But what are the facts today?

As you read this piece, many Nigerians are checking out of the country in droves to foreign lands, either for economic or insecurity reasons. In the past few years, the nation’s economy has gradually entered unfamiliar territory. Since the advent of crude oil, Nigeria has been running a mono-economy sustained by the ‘black gold’. At the moment, Nigeria seeks alms desperately from every corner of the world not minding the stringent conditions.

No thanks to the fall, both in consumption and price of crude oil internationally. On the other hand, the ruin of insecurity has seen many Nigerians living in camps as Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) outside their ancestral lands. Many more are either dead or are agonising in the pains of having lost loved ones or nursing fatal injuries. Undeniably, bandits, kidnappers and the continuous herders/farmers clash make farming difficult in many parts of the country as these bloodletting criminals had driven farmers from the farm.

A recent sad consequence of the herders/farmers clash is the story of an Adamawa state farmer, Kabiru Zelani whose fate between ‘life and death is hanging on the hangman’s noose. In the wisdom of the Yola High court, Zelani’s effrontery to defend himself that caused the death of a herder is punishable by death through hanging. In the face of these ugly incidences, President Muhammadu Buhari administration continues the hype on agriculture as one of the next engines to drive the economy. One wonders how the Buhari government would achieve the agricultural dream with such atrocities in the land.

It is disheartening that, despite the insecurity challenges facing the country, the Minister of Information continues to live in a fantasyland. In his delusion, he counterpoisea report on Nigeria by a London based magazine, The Economist. The Minister argued that the facts are clear and available for right-thinking persons to see that the country is better today in terms of security than it was in 2015. He did not stop there, he further stated that bandits imposing levies on communities does not mean they have taken control of the communities. Lai Mohammed’s argument seems fit for a helpless leader who has lost control. He told us to keep our heads and stop working up a fuss over the state of insecurity. He maintained that it was not unusual as such criminal activities take place in other parts of the country without a crisis of insecurity. Hear him: “Do you know how many places in this country where area boys collect taxes? And there is no terrorism and banditry there. I don’t want to mention names…”

Obviously, Nigerians are dumbfounded for a peerless person in the calibre of the honourable Minister of Information to compare bandits with area boys. Somehow, it is like comparing apples to oranges. In all intent, he is the Minister of Information alright, but with regards to insecurity, one cannot understand Lai Mohammed speaking as Minister of Information or simply as a broken record. To be candid, no crime is too grave or too trivial to be explained away in comparison. Indeed, Lai Mohammed’s claim spotted an impediment to good governance. It has clearly propagated a misleading notion about what governance should be. Also, it reveals that the minister is not in denial of being diagnosed with the well-known politician’s disease emphasised above.

Of course, we cannot ignore the honourable Minister of Information’s displeasure that the Nigerian press chose to take side with a foreign tabloid. There is perhaps no greater testimony to our uncomfortable safety. Going by Lai Mohammed’s argument, Nigerians should sit back and watch while criminals take charge and lead the country down a path that abandons the rule of law; thereby, undermining the government in power and our democracy. No doubt, the minister’s reaction evidently indicates that the government took the case as part of a shift to the use of propaganda as an instrument to confuse the masses. Knowing that Nigeria remains a religious experience of the most uplifting kind. Where the masses take everything to God and pray endlessly in their bid to come within a whispering distance with their maker. But the people are wiser, going by the comments on social media and from public affairs commentators.

What Nigerians need at the moment is a peaceful country. The minister of Information should have embraced the common wisdom to maintain silence on The Economist magazine issue. This would have earned him a golden silence. Instead he further messed up the ugly situation of the Buhari administration in the eye of the public court.