“If you must tell a lie, be brief, that’s why adverts are short”.
The whirling nature of life today projects a radical departure from this unwritten aphorism that defines the creation of persuasive messaging. We are inundated with barefaced lies shielded in shades of hypocrisy and falsehood. From the office, to the community, on the television, on the internet, lies have taken over the entire space. It is worrisome to observe that liars have taken over every segment of the society. In fact, lies often dubbed creativity are features of some profession. Like corruption, it has become a norm rather than the abnormal.
The other day I met a young man whose name as it appeared on his national identity card was different from what he filled on a form. On a closer check, the name which my organisation has in her records was a complete departure from the other two. When quizzed he insisted all were his names, arguing blindly. Not even his surname was constant. This is the ugly situation that permeates our society.
Every day we are assailed by the reality of a growing race of insincere people. The average Nigerian has thrown away caution and embraced dishonesty. Falsehood has taken root in the lifestyle of the populace. Even when confronted with the truth, he wants to argue his cause ostensibly to be vindicated.
More so, in this season of elections, campaign promises are as loud as cymbals. If one considers how politicians toy with dishonesty, one will not be far to conclude that falsehood is now part of our nationhood, having been crowned in every sector of our national life. From government to the governed, politicians to professionals, young and old, almost everyone is guilty of this untoward character.
The social media is the worst hit of truth muzzling and lie vending. The rate at which people design and distribute disinformation and misinformation on the social media is alarming. While one cannot deny the relief brought about by the social media via the internet, it has become a conduit in the hand of jesters and the falsehood industry at large. Sadly as Mark Twain quipped, “a lie can travel half way round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Thus, falsehood and disingenuous manipulation of texts, images and videos go on and become pervasive with media illiterates consuming it hook, line and sinker.
Honesty adds value to a person just as dishonesty diminishes from it. Lying can take you to enviable height, but such does not last. People who forged results to secure admission into the tertiary institution have been shown the way out in their final year. The joy of their new status is cut short abruptly and their expectation of graduation is dashed. In the same vein, people who have jumped to the top have been shown the way down when the law of karma came for its pound of flesh. Ask Salisu Buhari and he would tell you how his edifice of speakership crumbled and his political career was drowned in the mire of falsehood. He has since bowed into oblivion.
Liars are a burden to nation building. Their vestige of falsehood is calamitous to not just their age-grade, but also generations after them. The civil service habits many of such. Their lives and files smack of falsehood. Their academic profiles, date of birth, dependents, are a shadow of the reality. Fake certificates, incorrect date of birth, non-existent dependents and ghost workers are the flurry of the civil service. Often times, we are quick to blame government for infrastructural collapse, but by our deceitfulness, we expedite quick decline and eventual collapse of these facilities. By providing false information, it becomes difficult for government to capture accurate statistics of the populace thereby making it impossible to plan and provide infrastructure that would cater for the citizenry and engender national development.
Many legs in the civil service are tired and old. But their records reflect age below the reality. An army of active and able-bodied men cannot take over because the tired and worn out ones have refused to bow out gracefully. Sadly, some of these old cargoes who should be on pension are still being battered by the harsh environment. They continue to cheat the system and deny it of fresh blood and agile minds.
If your first name is liar, ‘thievery’ is your surname; for by nature, liars are thieves. It is second skin to them. Electoral season is one of promises – of heaven and earth: promises which are not intended to be fulfilled. It is amazing how politicians peddle half-truths and sometimes absolute lies in order to score cheap political points. They elevate deceit in order to pull down opponents. If Nigerians learn from history, they would have learnt that such attitude betray the sincerity of intention to serve; for they rob us of the truth and pay us with incompetence and maladministration. People who make promises and renege on them without a sense of remorse are as dangerous as serial liars. What shall it profit a man if he tells a lie that eventually brings disgrace to him?
Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between truths and lies. But it has never taken eternity for the truth to catch up with lies. No matter how fast lies may have run, the truth will surely overtake it. Surely the wind will blow and we will see the anus of the hen. It is in the same light that senior military official announced to us some months ago that a ceasefire had been reached with Boko Haram. Events of past weeks have proved that this is untrue. The recent massacre in Baga is pathetic. It is more worrisome that the casualties of the ill-fated incident cannot be accounted for. Neither the media nor the army has accurate figures of the extent of the carnage. The media relied on locals while the military source remains uncertain. If Amnesty International’s satellite image of Baga is anything to go by, it becomes increasingly difficult to believe the military.
It usually begins with little lies. Small white lies graduate to become big black lies. Gone are the days those evils that men do live after them. Today, their lies live with them and trail them leaving behind a legacy of distrust, bad belle and chequered integrity. Even if their conscience is seared dead, the liability
There is a growing dearth of Nigerians with integrity and high sense of value. Before you count ten, you would have counted seven who have fallen short of time tested values. Nigeria’s conscience is suffering from sore- a deep gushing one. And only the truth can cure it. To borrow the words of late Uthman Dan Fodio, we need a national “conscience nurtured by truth”. It behoves the citizenry who truly love Nigeria to clean up the sore and apply the cure. Honestly, honesty remains the best policy.
Yinka Adeosun is a communications specialist based in Ondo, Ondo state. He writes from firstname.lastname@example.org