By Tunde Odesola
You can call me a fool for all you care, I won’t bat an eyelid. I have the right to be foolish, anyway. But move away from my arm’s length if you call me stupid, for stupidity is mental retardation simplified. Foolishness is a choice. Stupidity is not, it’s endowed. It’s wired to the DNA. As adjectives, ‘foolish’ is lacking a good sense or judgment but ‘stupid’ is lacking in intelligence or the inability to think. Stupidity is the crown on an empty skull. Foolishness is the obstinacy that dares the lamb to look at the tiger in the eyes. With a little more caution, the lamb could, by keeping silent in hiding, escape a bloody journey into the belly of the black-striped, gold-furred tiger with flaming eyes, stalking the jungle.
Then Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari blazed into power in the very last minute of 1983. His coup was a welcome blow that broke the spine of the inept and corrupt Shehu Shagari administration which was more popular for wearing long caps on idle heads than arresting the debilitating inflation crippling the economy. Fire bellowed down the nostrils of the Buhari tiger, clawing, tearing and mauling perceived impediments to national greatness. Everybody feared the tiger until a certain lamb from the largest state in the country, Niger, came to tame it two years after. This Niger lamb was beautiful and pleasing to the eyes, its baaing was melodious to the ears; everybody who feared the tiger loved the iamb of the lamb. The furry lamb was a paradox that unnerved and reassured simultaneously. Not very long after being crowned king, however, the corrupt-wind of genetic mutation blew the way of the lamb, which sloughed its fur for scales and metamorphosed into a snake. The lamb’s harmless mouth turned into striking serpentine jaws of poison, savagery replaced genteelness, and evil stalked the land unstoppably. Sometime in the August of 1985, the snake chased out the tiger from the lair, taking over the kingdom.
I’ve never set my eyes on a scrotal sac with one ball. But I’ve often heard the Yoruba describe any man wailing meaninglessly as having only one ball in his sac. What’s the link between wailing and one scrotal ball? Does wailing complement a missing ball? Does wailing alleviate the pains or absence of a missing ball? With the way Nigerians wail meaninglessly on social media, compulsory medical check on scrotal sacs across the country won’t be a bad idea. However, it’s not only Nigerian proletariats that wail, Nigerian leaders wail, too. Last week, former man of steel, President Buhari, lamented in Abuja during the inauguration of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s headquarters in Abuja. He said he was ousted in 1985 and detained for three years by Brig Gen Ibrahim Babangida because he (Buhari) was fighting corruption as of the time. The President said, “I was removed as the head of state, detained for three years and people whom we recovered stolen money from were given back their money and I remained in detention up until my mother had to die to save me from detention.”
Mr President, you’re free to think Nigerians are fools, but don’t you think we are stupid. In our foolishness, we can clearly see the lie in your statement that your mother waited three years to save you from detention. Why would a mother wait for 1, 095 days to save her son? What if death had knocked on your soul before her intervention? Oh, your media aides would say, “The President was speaking figuratively.” Yes, he was speaking politically, too. When a figure of speech borders on representing an idea better or worse than it really is, it is called an exaggeration. So, is the President blowing issues out of proportion in order to gain political sympathy? The President said he was toppled 33 years ago because of corruption and that the money he retrieved from corrupt politicians were returned to them, right? And Babangida, who toppled him, is still alive. Please, where should the anti-corruption war of Buhari begin from, if it is only to set the records straight and debunk the claims that his military administration was vindictive? So, Buhari knows some individuals with stolen public wealth, and he keeps quiet and feels comfy about it? What manner of leader is he? A weakling? There, surely, exists a difference between foolishness and stupidity.
Foolishness and stupidly rule the Nigerian online political space where innumerable people talk inanities all at once. Some talk and say nothing. Some applaud roguish politicians defecating on our collective sensibilities. In Animal Farm, George Orwell depicts the proletariats as stupid. Are Nigerian proletariats better? Foolishness and stupidity went round the bend last week as another President, Bukola Saraki, tackled the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris. Saraki, the President of the Nigerian Senate, last Wednesday, accused the IGP of planning to implicate him in the trial of some suspected hired killers arrested in Kwara State. Hitherto, there was no love lost between Saraki’s flimsy Senate and the unmeet police boss as Saraki and his gang of senators had repeatedly invited Idris to appear before the Red Chamber futilely. If the Senate was planning not to pass the budget of the police – in retaliation of the I-G’s scorn, a quick rethink wasn’t unlikely as Idris wouldn’t think twice before withdrawing police orderlies from our self-serving senators. Who wan die? Not these senators gulping billions of naira in taxpayers’ funds monthly with nothing to show for it.
In the heat of the back-and-forth kafuffle between the senate and the I-G, a video clip went viral. In the video, Idris, who was reading an address at a public function, was portrayed as being unable to coherently read his address, needlessly repeating the word ‘transmission’. A man in a dark suit and blue shirt stepped in to help with the speech which being ruffled by the wind while Idris bungled on. A closer look at the video, however, shows that Idris’ lips and the audio don’t sync. The IG, though a lawyer, doesn’t possess the gift of the garb. He speechifies the English Language in a laborious way. With its back pinned against the wall, the police force released its version of the video showing the IGP reading an error-free address. The two versions were from the same Kano event, but the part wherein the man in suit stepped in to offer a helping hand was excised from the version released by the police – suggesting that Idris truly made a couple of mispronunciations while delivering his speech. His traducers, however, fanned the embers of the innocuous error into a horrible conflagration by manipulating the audio to make the I-G sound as repeating himself. The Presidency later joined in the fray by describing the video as doctored. I’m not a fan of the IGP as I consider many of his actions unbecoming since he was appointed by Buhari on March 21, 2016. But a fool worth his salt would see through the deft doctoring of the video. That a lot of Nigerians believe that the IG could, in a two-minute, 18-second video, publicly repeat ‘transmission’ 13 times, and ‘I mean’ six times, shows why the political class continues to manipulate us with the stupidest of ploys. A bosom friend, Shola Ogunjimi, however, has a different opinion. He said Nigerians knew that the video was doctored, but that they believed it because of the brainlessness that attended some of Idris’ past actions. A former Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Osun State Council, Prince Ayoade Adedayo, who felt no pity for Idris, believes there is more to the video than what the police are claiming.
I ask, why is Idris suddenly being portrayed as deficient in speech and reading now that some powerful people are being linked to some suspected hired killers? Why?