We live in a baffling world in which many leaders believe that their people can be led by the nose. They assume they are wise and that those they govern are stupid. This leads to all sorts of situational comedies, some with tragic consequences. A few definitions.
A joke is when a ruling party in order to restructure, sacks all its members, directing them to re-register; making it the first party in history without a single member. A sick joke is when former members of the party admit the president as the first member.
Hollywood is when the leader of a party who buys and allocates votes says he is the champion of free, fair and transparent elections. Nollywood is when such a leader gives continental lectures on how best to conduct free elections, protect the vote and uphold the mandate of the electorate.
Comedy is when the president and commander-in-chief of a country with lots of ungoverned spaces and whose leadership is challenged by bandits, always assures all that he is on ‘top of the situation’. Tragi-comedy is when such a leader is giving lectures in the region on security and how best to secure a populace.
Incapability is when the government of an oil-rich nation is incapable of refining petroleum products for domestic use. Gross incapability is when the government expends scarce foreign exchange to import PMS but is incapable of distributing the product at the fuel stations for consumers.
Deceit is when a politician promises to build at least one refinery yearly but in his eighth year, has not even turned the sod for one. Mass deceit is when this same politician has promised to reduce the price of a litre of PMS from 65 Eco to 40 Eco only if they vote for him, and ends up selling at thrice, four times the old price.
Stupidity is when an import-dependent country with many ports open to the ocean, abandons all except a twin-port. Compound stupidity is when the roads leading to the twin port is perpetually congested making movement virtually impossible.
Joblessness is when the leader of a country roams the world for private reasons or jets out fortnightly like a tourist. Presidential joblessness is the president of a country writing to congratulate the newly appointed president of another country, and follows up with a three-day ‘state visit’ just ‘to assure the new president of the high assurances of his highest esteem’.
Provocation is when an overfed leader while picking his teeth, pretends to be unaware of the hunger gnawing in the stomachs of the citizenry. Extreme provocation is when such a leader arranges bags of rice on racks presenting them as ‘rice pyramids’ and assuring the citizenry that the times of plenty are here.
A nitwit is a leader who inherited a minimum wage whose value was three bags of rice and profusely congratulates himself for increasing the wage to the extent that it cannot buy a bag of rice.
A challenged leadership is when such a leader believes he is worthy of the status of a messiah for increasing the national minimum wage.
Fraud is when a political party makes a fake promise to bring the exchange rate of 200 Eco to the dollar, to parity of 1E-$1. Serious fraud is when the government of such a ruling party, exchanges a dollar for over 700 Eco.
Pretence is for a government to promise basic education for all children but end up swelling the number of children without access to education from 10.5 million to 18.5 million. Sin is to abandon schools built by the predecessor for homeless children and turn them back on the streets.
Ineptitude is to rail against the mass kidnap of school children in a school under a preceding administration but put no measures in place to prevent a repeat. Gross ineptitude is for thousands of other children in multiple schools to be continuously kidnapped under the new administration.
Fakery is when a government vows to bring bandits to book but is ever making excuses. Serious fakery is when a notorious bandit and mass murderer declared wanted by the police, is turbaned as the spiritual leader of his ethnic group in the presence of government officials who make speeches praising him for promising to reduce banditry and mass killings.
A lie is when a government for seven years vows to return internally displaced persons, IDPs, to their ancestral homes but builds more IDP camps. A fat lie is when the same government allows the terrorists occupying those occupied lands to live peacefully in them, changing the names of the villages and towns, while assuring the IDPs of a quick return home.
Deceit is when a presidency promises mass housing on a scale unheard of but, in reality, builds mass IDP camps. Mass deceit is when the same presidency announces to the world that the IDPs would soon be resettled in their old homes, but tells the victims that it is better they give up their ancestral lands rather than end up in graves.
Lack of trust is when a president makes an electoral vow to build adequate medical infrastructure as to make foreign medical trips unnecessary, while he ends up being the leading foreign medical tourist in the country with the presidential aircraft parked at various times for weeks on end at a foreign airport accumulating fees. Delusion is when he thinks the people have forgotten his electoral vows.
A tricky leader is one who vowed to reduce waste in governance by downsizing the presidential air fleet, but from 2016 to 2017 increases the cost of its maintenance by 19.6 per cent, and then by 98.7 per cent the following year, and in 2019, by 99.6 per cent. While reducing the cost in 2020, he increases the maintenance cost in 2021 by 243.6 per cent. Illusion is when such a leader convinces himself that he has successfully sold the people a dummy.
Talk is cheap, more so for cheap governments on a rich diet of falsehood and creamy dessert of propaganda. They search for what is not missing just to give the lie that their noisy, endless motions are actual movements toward good governance and development.
Proverbs are the lyrics of the wise and only the wise and knowledgeable can dance to its drums. But the uninitiated, unable to decode the songs may feel they are the target. This may not be correct. So before attack dogs are unleashed to howl and disturb our eardrums, I issue a caveat emptor that this piece is fictive realism and that the characters are imaginary; more like ghosts hovering around history. Therefore, any resemblance to any character living or dead is coincidental and should be ignored.
- Owei Lakemfa is a journalist, labour and social rights activist and host of Diplomatic Hour, Citizen FM, Abuja.