THIS season, we will be treated to lies by politicians and paid their agents in the electronic, print and social media. Political actors will sponsor slanderous and libelous publications. Also, our legislators clothed in parliamentary immunity won’t be left out in issuing publications to arouse public sentiments. Blunt, honest and frank politicians like Papa Obafemi Awolowo are very rare. Our politicians have a penchant for institutionalised lies. There is renewal of lies when previous lies become toxic or too sour to absorb. This is quite unlike the intellectual giant and elder statesman, the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s brand of politicking which identified with incontrovertible facts, figures and did not rely on material inducement (vote buying) in gaining access to the corridors of power. Awolowo left behind worthy legacies of selfless leadership, spartan discipline in fiscal policy, unrivalled administrative acumen, moral probity and financial accountability.
In contemporary Nigeria, politics is about lies by an organised minority dictating and manipulating public opinion not for the purpose of creative leadership, public or national interest. It not to assist the downtrodden class living on one or two meals per day or having no food at all. Politicking today is completely opposed to the Awolowo era. It is about dubious elite in their conspiratorial tendencies to paint red black in order to accomplish self-serving goals. Media practitioners in the bread and butter role have aided distortion of facts and manipulation of uninformed minds. They are a veritable tool in spreading lies, mystifying and/ or demystifying individuals and corporate entities in a society with a poor reading culture and low literacy. Why people are treated by politicians to an avalanche of lies will be much glaring between now and next year’s general elections. One is tempted to concur with the legal luminary, Aare Afe Babalola, SAN, in his back page column on Thursday, May 5, titled “2023 general election: Lie telling by politicians”. He stated that the question that is constantly asked is, Why do politicians believe they can lie and not get caught? He quoted Jim Taylor’s article on “Six Reasons why Politicians lie,” saying that many politicians, as narcissists, are quite arrogant, self important,and often see themselves as special, requiring excessive admiration.
At this juncture, one cannot but deplore the role of political jobbers, the foot soldiers of politicians and their comrades in lie telling, in their game of relevance. They will continue to publish lies, like the idea of scoring 100 goals in one football match. The transition exercise from June 2022 to February 2023 is bound to witness watery lies. We are all aware that hunger and starvation are a recurring decimal in Nigeria of today. Part of the dirty tricks in politics is to empower loud mouths and orators to obfuscate facts with endless lies in the form of carefully packaged propaganda; to defame others or make sinners saints. We have unrepentant liars as politicians. We should however note that some politicians do repent and change their bad habits. Let social media handlers beware.
- Alagbe is a public affairs analyst.
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