AWOLOWO, OUR ELOQUENT POLITICIANS & SOPHISM: . . The Metaphor of Virgin in Maternity Ward - By ‘Tunji Ajayi
I remember that great music maestro who ruled the soul and folk music world in the 70s and 80s with his educative and philosophical music. Great music remains evergreen. The Nigerian old-school musicians played their music with passion; injecting meaning into their songs, being fully conscious that they owe the society the sacred duty of educating and reminding them about our values and cultural norms through their meaningful messages. They know very well that music itself is a mode of communication; otherwise it becomes noise if it doesn’t communicate ideas, thoughts and feelings that could impact on the listeners and elicit reactions. Or how can vapid music inform, let alone educate and entertain? The great Bongos Ikwue was the artiste who queried: “Show me a virgin in the maternity ward. Show me a river that never flows. Show me sunrise that never sets. Show me a woman who has never fallen in love.” Bongos Ikwue was deep! Our good indigenous music is fast effacing. A topic for another day.
Fielding questions from this writer, a great philanthropist and mentor once explained why he might never become a politician. According to him, many of the politicians he knew were very honest and sincere before joining politics, but became turncoats no sooner than majority of them became politicians. He couldn’t bear the sheer deceit and monstrosity of lies they often tell the unwary electorates to win their hearts, only to get elected and look sideways, not fulfilling their electioneering campaign promises. My mentor hates lies with passion and has consistently refused to partake in politics. But can election ever be won in Nigeria without telling lies to the electorates? He once owned a thriving football club. One day his Manager prepared a budget for the coming football season. He took a fussy glance at a certain coded portion of the budget and queried his Manger: “Please what is this huge overhead fund for?” Apparently to impress my mentor, the manager replied excitedly “We need it to ‘dash’ referees to win our matches.” You see, truth is the abyss almost in every segment of our national lives. But contrary to the manager’s expectations, my mentor retorted in anger and dismay: “So, whether the team prepares and plays well or not, it is bribing the referees that can influence and win you matches?” Don’t such nocturnal practices and other ineptitudes explain why our football league is backward till today? And yet we always pray to partake and win the World Cup, even when we prepare more to lose than to win? What a mirage! The queer man handed off football proprietorship that same day and sold his club off immediately!
The truth is that a great majority of the Nigerian politicians are impostors who loathe truth, but believe more in nocturnal activities, while peddling lies to shore up their images and flaunting their pseudo-capacity to perform. Why nocturnal spiritual river-side blood-bath to win an election to “serve”? Borrowing from Bongos Ikwue’s lyrics above, one can rightly assert: “Show me a virgin in the maternity ward first. Then I will show you a politician that doesn’t lie to win elections.” But when will it ever be possible in Nigeria to win elections into any political office by being honest? The military took over Nigeria by the jugular from 1966 before democratic governance was installed in 1979. During that election campaign an astute and assertive politician was asked what he would do on the issue of corruption and stolen wealth by the military leadership he had hoped to succeed. His penchant for speaking undiluted truth took over him like when the Holy Spirit pounced on the apostles at Pentecost 33 CE and were speaking in tongues.
The politician, Chief Obafemi Awolowo must have forgotten the truism in the indigenous Yoruba name for that loquacious beautiful bird, “Ayékòótó” the Parrot – the world hates Truth. Thus, Awo retorted: “I will probe the military”. His avowed commitment to the ideals and penchant for blunt truth won for him many enemies. Nonetheless, Awolowo still abhorred ambivalence and held subterfuge in derision. On his printed personal letter head, he put a fish as his logo denoting peace, and inscribed above: “Èébúdolá” meaning the flurry of abuses from detractors bring him honour. Even after the civil war, which Awolowo helped to prosecute and end as Federal Commissioner for Finance under General Yakubu Gowon’s military government by 1970, the entire nation hasn’t enjoyed reprieve from economic, social and political stagnation. Despite democracy hoopla, the uninterrupted enthronement of democratic governance years since 1999, that elected Olusegun Obasanjo, has not given the much expected social transformation and national development. Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the blunt maverick music maestro likens Nigeria to a “Perambulator”, adding the truthful but derisive comment: “Na the same place he dey. Him no go anywhere.”
Though he lost the 1979 presidential election announced by the returning officer Frederick Louis Menkiti again in court to the 122/3 states saga, Chief Awolowo did not contest the 1983 election loss in court. He resigned to his Ikenne home and accurately predicted how difficult it would be to restore a beleaguered Nigerian nation to true democracy. Because truth sees clearly with visionary eyes ahead of looming calamity, till today, reprieve hasn’t come to Nigeria. Our democracy is still inexorably entangled in the web of lies because most politicians, bereft of clear-cut ideological principles want to serve the people by force rather than altruistic and patriotic reasons. Awolowo, as the Premier of Western Region between 1952 and 1959, thoughtfully designed a distinctive, well-planned programme far back in 1955 in the beautiful toga of Free Primary Education for all children of school age in the western region and flaunted the blueprint to all corners of the country Nigeria to embrace. He had been an advocate of free education at all levels since 1942, long before Nigeria’s independence, and he never wavered on the point! He wrote a federalist manifestoes entitled “Path to Nigerian Freedom” far back in 1947. That is steadfastness on ideal principle. Visionary men have more than two physical eyes. They also see with their perspicacious inner mind. Where are today’s Nigerian’s true leaders!
Like the famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung once said: “If a man knows more than others, he becomes lonely.” Post-independent Nigeria and her power wielding political stalwarts must have argued in their warped thoughts and jaundiced mind: “this troublesome man has come again with his self-delusion and acclaimed omnipotence.” Awolowo became almost “lonely” with his great transformational ideas for the country. He never became Nigeria’s president. But, he never regretted telling the truth point blank. His well-thought free education programme was vilified and chastised especially in the North where “almajiirism” thrives till today. He once answered his traducers who accused him of arrogance and flaunting omnipotence. Awo enthused “The truth is that while many men in power and public offices are busy carousing in the midst of women of easy virtues and men of low morals, I, as a few others like me, am busy at my desk thinking about the problems of Nigeria and proffering solutions to them.” He added a caveat: “Only the deep can call to the deep.” Since he died in 1987, his insignia of wisdom, the round flat cap has been worn and flaunted by many politicians claiming to be adherents who identify with his philosophies and ideals, but Nigerians are not seeing “the deep” truly “calling to the deep”.
Awolowo, apparently being worried about apathy towards education by a particular region of the country, the bare-it-all and ever pungent great sage warned in unmistakable terms. Hear him: “The children of the poor you failed to train today will never let your children live in peace tomorrow . . .” Awolowo knew that education frees man from the ramshackle of ignorance. Like Joseph Addison the English essayist buttresses the point: “it chastises vices and guides virtues. It gives government to geniuses.” The 2nd Century Greek Historian, Diogenes Laertius reported that Aristotle was once asked how much educated men were superior to those uneducated. Aristotle answered laconically: “As much as the living are to the dead.” That perhaps explains why Herbert Spencer added his own incontrovertible viewpoint. According to the English philosopher, “Education has for its object the formation of character.” A fellow scholar posited that education makes a people “easy to lead, but difficult to drive. And he added a puncher: “They are easy to govern, but impossible to enslave.” The aristocratic post-colonial slave masters preferred enslavement and subjugation. They preferred men who would be easy to drive and thus wouldn’t want mass education. And so, street urchins multiply in droves. Thus, Nigeria knows no peace till today.
In his “Trenchtown Rock”, Bob Marley hollered: “You Reap What You Sow”. Yes. That may be true. But in his “Ariya Odun Kewa: 10th Anniversary” of 1973 Sunny Ade reminded us all: “Bí ará ilé eni bá n je kòkòrò búburú. Táà bá tètè so fúun. Hèrè-huru-hèrè kò ní jé ká sùn l’óru.” It is a truism that if one’s household member relishes eating dangerous insects, the resultant profuse, noisy cough will cause sleepless nights for all the innocent neighbours. Our power-wielding politicians damaged so much under their influence of drunkenness. And collectively, we are now paying for the damages after we are sober. Awolowo gave his warning and the consequences of apathy towards children education many decades back. But why did his prophecy come to fruition even in our time? Perhaps, a motivational speaker F. Emmanuel’s submission will provide an answer. According to him: “Truth is never outdated, but gimmicks keep changing. Nothing endures like truth.” He added point blank: “Truth survives the tests of time.”
But, if we have put Lies on the throne since the emergence of democratic governance in the past years and know no peace, is it not high time Nigeria tried Truth and enthroned him on the saddle this time around? Unfortunately, many of our shameless politicians whose infractions and dismal conducts have put us in these asphyxiating conditions are back here again. What a dismal situation in which even the innocent babies tied to their malnourished mothers’ back are writhing in pain! Our politicians are back with the same penchant for vain promises encapsulated in lies. Most politicians with their sophistry often trade in the monstrosity of lies and deceit to win elections by all means possible. One of the key definitions of sophism aptly fit Nigerian politicians’ antics. With its etymology from the Greek word denoting wisdom, learnedness; the noun sophistry is also defined as “intentional fallacy.” It means “cunning, trickery and deceptive speech or writing, or an argument that seems plausible, but is fallacious or misleading, especially one devised deliberately to be so.” The same politicians who put us in this dismal state with their contrivance are again the most vociferous, recycling the same promises they have always made to turn Nigeria into Paradise. In his 2022 Christmas message to Nigerians, the former Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan specifically appealed to the Nigerian politicians to please stop their frightening lies aimed at deceiving the electorates.
Marketing communication involves finding a need and filling those needs. What is the special need of this country now, against the backdrop of the monstrosity of lies being peddled again and again by our cunning politicians? Many have been invited by prominent media houses to proffer solutions to Nigeria’s multifarious and hydra-headed problems. And so they are professing again to ameliorate the problems they also created through greed, selfishness and avaricious instinct. Our politicians and leaders who could not fix our loads for eight years will now build great roads in six months; provide electricity and security within two months. Our deflated Naira will be at par with the Dollar. Even, many are now promising to do restructuring which “had no meaning” to them before! Oh God! Nigerians cannot afford to continually enthrone lies, while truth is submerged in the dungeon.
But necessity, they say, is the mother of inventions. Nigerians have been pitiable victims of politicians’ deceit and incurable lies for far too long. Is there any way out? Judging by the monstrosity of lies through their sophistry and deceitful eloquence and elocution, perhaps Nigeria needs more people like Leonarde Keeler, a great inventor who lived between 1903 and 1949. Keeler aimed at subjugating and killing lies with his unique invention, the Lie Detector otherwise called the Polygraph. Unfortunately, Keeler the potential lie killer did not live long enough to achieve his aim of killing the lie. Perhaps he would have succeeded if he had lived beyond 46 years. A Berkeley high school student in the USA and amateur magician, Leonarde was fascinated by John Augustus Larson’s “cardio-pneumo psychogram” which he further developed to produce the modern polygraph. Larson was a police officer who was born in 1892 and died in 1965 at the age of 73. His invention was initially designed for forensic investigations. Though not yet foolproof, today, Leonarde Keeler’s improved version of Polygraph also called “Psychophysiological Detection of Deception” devise (PDD) is being used as interrogation tool. According to the American Psychological Association and the National Research Council (2003) “. . . most psychologists agree that there is little evidence that polygraph tests can accurately detect lies.” Nonetheless, a computerized version has since been developed in 1994. Thus, our Nigerian scholars and scientists in universities and polytechnics may collaborate and develop our home-grown fool-proof PDD to suit our requirements. It could be named Politician-Polygraph or codenamed “Politicopolygraph” to be worn as ornament on the necks of our eloquent politicians and aspirants seeking our votes for election into exalted offices.
Check this: Imagine a scenario where the effervescent Seun Okinbaloye of Channels Television or the cerebral and gaily-looking Rufai Oseni of Arise Television ties the PDD on the neck of an eloquently garrulous politician and aspirant. The aspirant in a bid to impress us tells big lies and the PDD sounds “Gbagam-Gbagam-Gbagam” in succession for each lies told. The audience and the electorate already know he is an incurable liar fraudulently courting the exalted throne. Show me a Nigerian politician who doesn’t tell lies, and I will show you a virgin in the maternity ward. Yes. Like a writer once wrote: A lie on the throne is a lie still; and truth in a dungeon is truth still. While a lie on the throne is on the way to defeat, truth in a dungeon is on the way to victory. To move ahead, Nigeria cannot afford to continually put lies and liars on the throne. Any efforts made to enthrone unblemished truth and put Nigeria on the path towards greatness is a worthwhile venture. If our beleaguered Nation must be solidly rebuilt on foundation of truth which only exalts a nation, we cannot afford to keep snubbing the truth while we disgrace what ought to be embraced and continually chastise what ought to be glorified. Verbum Satis Sapienti. …………………………………………………………….. *Tunji Ajayi, a creative writer, author and documentary producer writes from Lagos, Nigeria. (+2348162124412; +2348033203115) 1. Please Like, Comment, Share, and Subscribe to Henrisol Entertainments Ltd. on YouTube Channel https://youtu.be/-XaKx3HyBb0. 2. Visit: https://web.facebook.com/tunji.ajayi.946 for updates on Henrisol Entertainments/LOTO Projects. 3. Buy this new Book via Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/KING-SUNNY-ADE.../dp/B09FSCJX78