The Nigerian state does not believe itself obliged to tell its citizens anything, and this is a problem for Lai, because Lai has to justify the space he occupies in the cabinet, and it is this perceived obligation to justify his space at the feeding trough that is the Nigerian government, that has birthed the many lies of Lai.
Bi iro ba lo lo’gun odun, ise’ju kan, loo’to n’ba. It takes the truth but a minute to overtake the lie that had been allowed to run free for 20 years. This was one of Maami’s favorite admonition whilst holding court and settling the different domestic squabbles and childhood scraps. She was a firm believer in the importance of telling the truth at all times, and she wouldn’t pass up any opportunity to reinforce the message.
As I have grown older and been rendered more introspective by the gradual loss of my youthful zest, I have begun to meditate on the proverbs of my ancestors, and I have become increasingly convinced, that if the Yoruba and other African peoples would pay attention to the truths contained in our proverbs and aphorisms, we might find that the received scriptures, mostly mirrors the eternal truths that are found in the condensed wisdoms of our ancestors, which are what they have passed down by oral tradition as proverbs, aphorisms, etc.
But Lai, lies, and lice? Tarry a little and you will understand.
Mr. Lai Mohammed is the Nigerian minister of information. I shall ignore the lie about culture. It is Mr. Lai’s job to disseminate any information that the Nigerian government at the “federal” level might have for its “citizens” and the world at large. But Lai has a problem. The Nigerian state does not believe itself obliged to tell its citizens anything, and this is a problem for Lai, because Lai has to justify the space he occupies in the cabinet, and it is this perceived obligation to justify his space at the feeding trough that is the Nigerian government, that has birthed the many lies of Lai.
Mr Lai lies with amazing dexterity. He was well trained for his current position by his previous duties. Lie helped to build the enduring foundation of the Bourdilon myth before he was sent to Kwara in a failed attempt to extend the Jagaban franchise into Saraki territory. He was part and parcel of the compromise of the Lagos press, the successful marketing of Tinubu as an administrative genius, and of Lagos, the gilded sepulchral, as the center of excellence. He was later assigned the task of Propaganda Minister by the then emerging APC, and is today the one whose remit it is, to lie on behalf of the Buhari regime. Mr. Lai lies effortlessly.
But what relationship has Mr. Lai, his many lies, and the head lice? Come along.
I was particularly susceptible to head lice as a child. I was in the hostel at 10 years old. I was a precocious troublesome child, not much different from the man that I have grown to become, but I wasn’t anywhere near being as careful with my personal hygiene. I was a proper ruffian. I cannot remember a time in my secondary school days, when I wasn’t the host of a colony of head lice, and my mother’s drill was set in stone, from the minute that I returned home from the hostel, be that on a weekend visit or the end of the term holidays. The collection of whatever I might have managed to bring back of my luggage was kept outside and decontaminated, but the special treatment was reserved for me and my lice.
I was sent to the barbershop for a close shave and to be deloused. If I was unfortunate enough to have gotten home too late for baba Marindoti at Mokola, I knew that my scalp was going to be drenched either in kerosene, or whatever was being sold as a panacea for head lice in the market. But I wasn’t entering Iya Wale’s home without being deloused. The thing with lice is that they reproduce rapidly, and rabidly. They are not unlike lies you see, and the cacophony of imageries that I have found flooding my consciousness as I have contemplated the two, have tended to conflate the two for me.
When you tell one lie, you are obliged to tell several more lies, before you might be able to preserve the integrity of the original lie that was told. Problem is, each of the lies told to preserve the original lie, would then demand to also be preserved before the success of the original lie might be maintained, and these now demands that even more lies be told, so that the entire pack of lies, might not be unraveled. It is in this rabid multiplication of offsprings, that the lies, and the lice, find common purposes with Mr. Lai.
– [ ] Tell the truth, and let the devil be ashamed! These were the admonitions of the VP of my secondary school, Mr. Adewole. Problem is, the man had absolutely no patience in waiting for the hapless devil to be shamed on judgment day, he had assigned himself the task of ensuring that he shamed the errant student with his pankere, and the fear of Adewole’s cane, meant that I was happy to lie, and allow the devil to retain his dubious honor, even as I was happy to keep mine and not be the subject of the jokes at the school’s morning assembly.
– [ ] It is time to tell Mr. Lie to stop lying, before he might find himself lost in the web of the lies that are now spinning spectacularly and dangerously out of control. Lies and lice are identical in their reproductive prowess, but unlike the lice, the lies do not endure. Lies are as Abiku, notoriously short lived, and annoyingly incapable of living long enough to fulfill the desires of their parents.
The Nigerian state, Jide Sanwo-Olu, the Nigerian Army, the Lagos State government, would have to stop lying at some point, or be prepared to embrace the fascism that they have always kept masked behind the lies of a constitutional democracy. The truth never chases the lie, it is the lie that eventually comes to meet the truth after it might have exhausted itself by its peregrinations. Stop lying guys.
By Dele Farotimi