LEKKI, LAI, LIES & TALES BY MOONLIGHT (2)

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BY CHRIS GYANG

That is why restructuring is anathema to them; self-determination is a taboo, a sin that must be discouraged, severely punished. So the persecution of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho must be as harsh as possible, held up as an example to those who may contemplate such treasonable behaviour.

We are told that the country is preparing for yet another population census. Another monumental trickery in which far flung deserts are allotted more numbers than throbbing population centres in the hinterlands so as to perpetuate the lie about the dominance of desert dwellers. In March this year, the ‘ageless’ Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, who is dying to become president after Buhari (himself once dying to become president) is said to have made it a matter of political expediency to first visit Katsina and Kano states – acclaimed to possess some of the highest concentrations of voters in the country.

He has since ceased to comment on sensitive national issues, even those affecting his own Yoruba nation, for fear of incurring the wrath of the core north – ‘givers’ of the political power he so much hankers after. These are the results of the myth we have been brainwashed into accepting as the gospel truth, aimed at sustaining the slavish mentality that the north possesses the sole prerogative to ‘give power.’ And that you cannot be president of Nigeria if ‘they’ do not ‘give’ you power. After all, democracy is a game of numbers. Cooked in lies?

It is this misleading belief in the political supremacy of the core north that has turned Governor Lalong of Plateau State into a perpetual dancer to the absurd melodies of his master organ grinder – Mr. Buhari. The governor thinks that his headship of the Northern Governors’ Forum – which he presumes to be the acme of his political career – has given him the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ‘belong’ to the class of the ‘dispensers of political power’.

He has become so enamored with this that he now finds the words ‘Middle Belt’ and the brutal truth in the assertion that “Fulani herdsmen are killing Plateau and Southern Kaduna indigenous peoples in cold blood” very repulsive. Also in this obsequious race to bend over backwards to curry the favour of these ‘power givers’, Senator Rochas Okorocha has promised to build an Islamic university in Mr. Buhari’s home state, Katsina. He believes that this will significantly oil the wheels of his longstanding craving to become Nigeria’s president.

Sadly, the precipitous actions of these otherwise sane Nigerian politicians, and many, many others like them, are anchored on a lie about the political prowess of the core north. This is itself built on the foundation of an artful deception about the over-lordship of a single race and religion over others – even before the British thought about turning these disparate nations into this throbbing miasma of dissonance called Nigeria.

Recall when, on November 28, 2020, Boko Haram launched a gruesome attack on Zabarmari community, Borno State, in which not less 43 rice farmers were massacred while harvesting their crop? On that occasion, Garba Shehu, President Buhari’s senior media aide, announced to a distraught nation that the farmers were killed because they failed to get ‘clearance’ from the army stationed in the area before venturing for that harvest.

But before that, Femi Adesina, Garba’s second-in-command, had reasoned that it would be better for Nigerians who were under consistent attacks by well-armed Fulani herdsmen to cede their ancestral lands to the herders than continue to be at their mercy in such a vicious manner.

Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s Information Minister, has said that the extortion of levies and taxes by armed bandits from communities in Niger and other states in North Western Nigeria under their control is akin to the activities of local miscreants who extort paltry amounts from individuals in certain populated areas of the country. But according to figures released by Daily Star, as at October 7, 2021, 43 communities in Sabon Birni, Sokoto State, had paid various amounts running into millions of naira as levies and ransoms to armed bandits who had become the sole authorities.

For lack of space, we present only a few here: Garin Idi paid N1 million; Rambadawa – N500,000.00; Tudun Wada – N370,000.00; Tagirke – N600,000.00 (first instalment), N800,000.00 (second instalment) and N700,000.00 (third instalment); Dogon Marke – N2.2 million; Kwarangaba – N3 million; Kiratawa – N500,000.00 (first instalment), N600,000.00 (second instalment) and N1 million for the release of their kidnapped Chief Imam; and Kwatsal – N2million (first instalment) and N2million (second instalment). It is the extortions of these huge sums of money from helpless citizens in ungoverned spaces of the country that Mr. Lai Mohammed has compared to the activities of area boys!

No, Garba, Femi and Lai cannot be telling lies. Perhaps they were reeling out ‘alternative facts’ – remember Kellyanne Conway’s January 22, 2017, defence of Sean Spicer’s false statement about the number of people that attended President Donald Trump’s inauguration?

In our country, we don’t practically confront our leaders through peaceful protests and demonstrations as we see in Sudan and Tunisia. If you dare take such liberties here, the ancient sentiments of religion and, or, ethnicity are promptly deployed to cool your hot cheeks.

Prof. Wole Soyinka explained this predicament thus: “I am absolutely certain that we would agree that one of the major reasons for the dilemma we are undergoing in this country right now is that we permitted, we even encouraged either by actions or inactions, the mindset of impunity both in leadership and among the people.

“We ourselves are equally guilty. We ourselves allowed it. We watch it happen. We didn’t take to the streets to protest it, to denounce it, to warn of the consequences. Oh yes, there were warnings here and there but they were not concerted and structured” (Sahara Reporters, August 4, 2021).

That was one of the reasons why the #EndSARS protests of October 2020 could not get off the ground in the core north. The prevailing sentiment in Governor Lalong’s Northern Governors’ Forum was that the peaceful demonstrations were chiefly aimed at overthrowing Mr. Buhari’s Federal Government and not a movement championed by the youth to effect peaceful social change. So it was convenient for the administration to slap a banner of ‘lies’ on the Lekki massacre because it was seen as an ill-conceived and misguided adventure that was essentially ‘their own’, ‘not our own’ and ‘against one of our own and our interests’.

CONCLUSION
Following the release of the damning Lekki tollgate report, the United States Government and Amnesty International, among others, called on the Buhari administration to ensure its implementation and subsequent payment of compensation to victim. The US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, made his country’s position know on November 18 while on an official visit to President Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. He described the #EndSARS probe panel’s report as “democracy in action” and called for necessary institutional reforms (Daily Trust, November 19, 2021).

In response, Mr. Buhari said: “So many state governments are involved and have given different terms of reference to the probe panels. We at the federal have to wait for the steps taken by the states, and we have to allow the system to work. We can’t impose ideas on them. Federal Government has to wait for the reaction of the states.”

In Lai Mohammed’s condemnation of the Lekki panel’s report, which we mentioned above, he also said: “There’s absolutely nothing in the report that is circulating to make us change our minds that there was a massacre in Lekki on October 20, 2021.

“Without mincing words, let me say that never in the history of any Judicial Panel in this country has its report been riddled with so many errors, inconsistencies, discrepancies, speculations, innuendos, omissions, and conclusions that are not supported by evidence. What is circulating in public space is simply a rehash of the unverified fake news that has been playing on social media since the incident of October.”

We often talk about standing the truth on its head. But do we ever contemplate the possibility of standing a lie on its head? Is it morally feasible? What could be the reason for doing this? And what could be the consequences?

Or is it too difficult, even impossible, to grab a lie and put it on its head? Is it slippery, dodgy? Between the truth and the untruth, which is more difficult to pin down, on its head?

Perhaps we should ask Lai. Or Garba. Or Femi – plus the other Femi who has now become Pantami’s bosom friend.

Or should we ask Buhari himself? Do you think he could possibly know whether the Lekki panel’s report would one day be reduced to another case of the ‘unknown soldier’?

CONCLUDED

(GYANG is the Chairman of the N.G.O, Journalists Coalition for Citizens’ Rights Initiative – JCCRI. Email: info@jccri-online.org)

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