Inadvisability of Watering Down The Enormity Of Lekki Shooting
“Justice, truth be ours forever” was the theme used in anchoring a Journalism Week celebrated by Campus Journalists some years back. It is also a most profound catchphrase bequeathed to any African child from good homes by his or her parents. Parents of children from good homes ensured that their children are constantly reminded that truth-telling should be a cherished part of their lives. It was also intended to reinforce that section of the Ten Commandments which inveighs against spreading falsehood.
Parents and guardians that run good homes have used memory gems such as 'Speak the truth and speak it ever, cost it what it will' to reinforce the concept of truth-telling. I sincerely believe that most Nigerians prefer to be told the truth rather than to be lied to. This is why they detest liars and often mercilessly discipline their children for lying to them. Many of us grew up learning that 'every liar is a thief'. In other words, we should not trust people who lie to us because 'lying lips are an abomination to the Lord'.
It is against the foregoing backdrop that one would in this context ask if most of our politicians are not from good homes. To put it aptly, “What is it with politicians and lies?” This question no doubt is expedient as lying by politicians in this part of the world is by each passing day becoming bothersome so much that when innocent citizens are killed, politicians would look for one lie or the other to cover it up or simply explain it away as if nothing happened. When well-meaning philanthropists donate relief materials to the people, the politicians will keep such materials to themselves and their family members. As if the foregoing infractions are not enough, projects that were not executed in their constituents will be paraded during campaign as being executed. What they know they cannot be able to achieve while in political position they would use it as part of their manifestoes or rather campaign promises.
Without any iota of exaggeration, politicians and their lies are becoming worrisome to virtually all Nigerians as they are the very people we entrust to make important decisions on our behalf, and they are treating us with contempt by lying to our faces. These are not just little white lies and evasions of the truth, but big, fat and bold lies. They are lies that are insults to voters’ collective intelligence, and that make us to take every word from a politician with a pinch of salt.
It is against this background that so many Nigerians are viewing what appears to be a culture of lying by some members of our government. As a good friend said recently, “This politicians dey tell lie die”. He said, “Whenever they fathom that the people are becoming disenchanted, especially for failing to deliver projects promised by them, they would resort to 'lies, lies and more lies', and it has become part of their modus operandi”. Sadly, I must concur with this view. The evidence in support of it is embarrassingly too overwhelming.
At this juncture, it is expedient to say that since the killings of youthful protesters at the Lekki toll gate that Nigerians are daily been fed with different kind of explanations in such a way that it has become so difficult for anyone to know who and who is telling the truth or lying. More so, there are some facts that Nigerians are difficult to come to terms with. For instance, on Sunday, precisely on October 25, 2020, Babatunde Fashola, minister of works and housing, found a camera at the scene of the shooting in the Lekki area of Lagos state. Also, few days Lagos, the CCTV cameras at the tollgate, the scene of shooting, stopped recording by 8.00pm.
After reading an article with the title, “Lekki Shooting: Is Sanwo-Olu looking for a scapegoat?”, and published in the Vanguard newspaper of November 3, 2020, I have come to the conclusion that the author of the beautiful piece, Barrister John Atani, unarguably hits the bullseye. His article reads partly, “But it became shocking when the governor came out to tell the world that he did not order the deployment of soldiers. This has, indisputably, complicated the issue and put the Nigerian Army in a bad light. The arrow and brimstones were directed at the Nigerian Army from various quarters. Every known celebrity pounced on it even without having a hint of what transpired. It becomes the question of who ordered the deployment of soldiers given the rules of engagement of the military anchored on the command and control system. Certainly, something would serve as a trigger before soldiers could be deployed on the streets. The comments and the posture from Governor Sanwo-Olu have been contradictory to say the least. On one breadth, he said the shooting was done by “forces beyond his control”. In another breadth during a visit of his godfather and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, he said he did not order the deployment of the soldiers”.
At this juncture, it is expedient to ask, “Why are denials, accusations, and counter-accusations trailing the Lekki Shooting? Are those responsible for finding the truth feeding the people with blatant lies? Certainly, ignorance cannot be advanced as an excuse, it is unacceptable!
This piece, no doubt, may compel anyone to be wondering on what inspired this writer to express his views on this topic given the fact that everyone seems to be avoiding the topic. To me, it is not a topic that should be avoided. The reason for the foregoing cannot be farfetched as when issue such as this is avoided, it will definitely be revisited in the future.
At this juncture, it would be recalled that the need to unravel the truth in what made the nation to bleed in the past was demonstrated with inauguration of the Oputa Panel on June 14, 1999 by President Obasanjo. It was inaugurated to establish the causes, nature, and extent of human rights violations with particular reference to the assassinations and attempted killings that were perpetrated between January 15, 1966 and May 28, 1999, to identify perpetrators (individuals or institutions), determine the role of the state in the violations, and to recommend means to pursue justice and prevent future abuses. The commission was initially asked to investigate the period from 1984 to May 1999, covering four military governments, but this period was later extended back to 1966, the year of Nigeria's first military coup following independence.
To my view, while trying to unravel what led to the shooting at Lekki tollgate, there is need to always internalize the quote attributed to Franz Kafka which says, “Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” To me, the truth must be told. In the same vein, we should not forget the words of Uthman Dan Fodio that says, “Conscience is an open wound, only the truth can heal it”.