By Tunde Odesola
Doublespeak and reverse psychology are manipulative communication techniques used to deceive the unwary. When you take these techniques to court before a sound judge, they may not work because you may be told to call a spade by its name. A spade is not a rake. Clarity and understanding are the heartbeats of communication.
In law, to approbate and reprobate means to accept and to reject in the same breath. Latin wraps it succinctly in a maxim, “quod approbo non reprobo,” meaning, “That which I approve, I cannot disapprove.”
Let’s quickly visit Mr Glutton to illustrate how the Lagos State Government is approbating and reprobating in the controversy emanating from ENDSARS killings and mass burial of victims.
The brain of Glutton is in his stomach, a moveable e-shrine. His mouth is faster than his feet. Yam on fire. Ogbono aroma purifies the air. Mortar and pestle at the ready. Pepper grinds, oil fries, meat boils; mouths salivate. Ogbono soup set to serenade pounded yam. But impatience gets the better of Glutton, who says, “Isu ni ma je, mi o je iyan.” “I want to eat yam, not pounded yam.”
Just as a table was prepared before David in the presence of his enemies, a plate of steamy yam is set before Glutton. “I need some palm oil and a little salt, no fork,” he said. Each yam went down his throat with the tick of the clock.
Afterwards, the familiar sound of the pestle crushing yam inside mortar overcame the noise of the generator and the whirring of the refrigerator. Soon, white, spongy and lump-free pounded yam is ready.
Mr Glutton, “Ah, this pounded yam looks soft and inviting. Is it not nutritious? I don’t want yam again. I want pounded yam.”
Suuru, who had exercised patience while hunger raged, says, “Never, you can’t eat your yam and have it; you have eaten yam, you can’t eat pounded yam.”
The month of October, the year 2020 was a season of political correctness. Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu (BOS), who had sharply condemned the deployment and presence of soldiers at the Lekki tollgate, later danced ‘Palongo’ to the martial music played by the military high command, saying nobody died at the tollgate.
I add a little ‘s’ to BOSs because the actual BOSS of Lagos is currently on a four-year working vacation, foraging for greener pastures on the rock.
Questions: If nobody died at the tollgate, why did BOSs vehemently distance his government from the deployment and presence of soldiers at the scene, initially, saying, “This is totally against what we stand for.”? Why distance your government from a patriotic intervention — if the soldiers’ blitzkrieg at Lekki was one? Or, was Sanwo-Olu not happy and proud that the soldiers had professionally quelled the stupid riot? Why pretend as if you knew nothing about the deployment?
To buttress the lie that nobody died at the tollgate, the state government said if any family lost their beloved ones, they should produce their corpses for the world to see. This line of defence was parroted by the lowly, and the high and mighty within the ruling All Progressives Congress, who stressed that as no families produced relatives killed at the tollgate, it goes without saying that nobody died at the tollgate.
Ida ahun ni a fi n pa ahun. The tortoise dies by its own sword. Lagos State Government falls on its own sword, too. Defending the mass burial of the 103 corpses allegedly picked up in different parts of the state during the ENDSARS riots, Lagos State says no family members came forward to claim the corpses of their loved ones, adding that it placed paid advertisements in some leading national newspapers and conducted DNA tests on the corpses.
If nobody came forward to claim any of the 103 corpses Sanwo-Olu said were picked up in various parts of Lagos, is it surprising that no family members came forward looking for the corpses of any of the protesters shot dead at the Lekki tollgate? And how do you expect the bereaved to produce the corpses of relatives and friends after the government had packed the corpses and cleaned up the entire scene?
The switching off of the lights and the cameras at the tollgate was a signal for the grim reapers in khaki to move in and feed the protesters to their bullets.
Like the idiots they think we are, let’s swallow the government’s lie that the lights and cameras were turned off to dissuade innocent protesters and make them go home. Was the tollgate cleaned in darkness after the killing? Where is the video of the cleaning? Nigerians deserve to see how the tollgate looks before and after the bloodbath.
That nobody came forward to claim any of the 103 corpses is an indication that Nigerians in general see the federal and state governments as the problem of the country rather than the solution. It’s the same notion people have about government institutions such as the police, military and DSS; Nigerians avoid them to maintain their sanity.
The apathy to death and its news shows that the people are tired of death daily stalking the living on Lagos streets, harvesting unlucky Lagosians at the mercy of terrible hospitals, roads, pharmacies, crises, cutthroat taxes and bad policies.
In his statewide broadcast after the shooting at Lekki tollgate, Sanwo-Olu gave a seven-day rundown of the riots across the state, starting from October 13 to October 20, 2020, mentioning Ikorodu, Ajeromi, Ilasamaja, Ebute Meta, Adekunle, Fagba, Ogba, Ajegunle, Tin Can Island port as the flashpoints of the riots. Nowhere in his speech did the executive governor say anybody died anywhere across the state. Is that a product of amnesia?
The leaked memo on the ENDSARS casualty figure was what gave Nigerians an idea of the outrageous number of people who died during the riots. The names of the dead, dates and places of burial weren’t contained in any speech or advertisement by the government.
Last Sunday, I visited the State of Texas Capitol located in Austin, the state capital, free of charge. Taller than the United States Capitol in Washington, the 308-foot-tall building houses the Governor’s Office and the legislature. It also houses an Appeal Court and a Supreme Court, both of which are open to members of the public. Visitors are allowed during weekdays too, with tour guides ready to answer questions. The capitol has a staggering $75m underground extension completed in 1993.
As a PUNCH reporter, I covered both the Lagos State Governor’s Office and the Lagos State House of Assembly simultaneously over 20 years ago.
The Texas Capitol belongs to the people. The Lagos Capitol belongs to rulers. One capitol is for service, the other is for propagandists. One capitol protects the other neglects. One governor is Greg Abbot, the other is Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
The openness and caginess of both capitols reflect the importance each attaches to information and service. With the renowned penchant of Nigerian governments to reduce the number of casualties during calamities, the 103 number of corpses adduced by the Lagos State Government is most likely to be a ballpark figure. I fear it could be a political figure. The casualties could be thrice the 103 figure.
For more than three years, a faulty elevator in a Lagos State government hospital was neglected until it killed a young female medical doctor, Vwaere Diaso, plunging her to death from the ninth floor. The negligence can only happen in Sanwo-Olu’s Centre of Excellence.
Oluwashindara is the daughter of my secondary schoolmate, Oludayo. She is a fresh graduate of Kinesiology, at Lakehead University, Thunderbay, Ontario, Canada. Upon hearing of Diaso’s tragic end, she sent this text to her mom, “A young girl who only had two more weeks to finish her housemanship and become a full MD died at a General Hospital inside of a faulty elevator. Honestly, I never knew this girl, but my entire Twitter is always full of recent medical school graduates and I always like their posts because I feel motivated by them. Seeing this girl’s passing really has me in tears.
“As much as I know I should be grateful that I’m not there (in Nigeria), and (that) you (her parents) have done so much to offer me and Ire (elder sibling) this opportunity, I feel so closely tied to that country and a death like this makes me realise that could have been me, or anyone of my close friends.
“It’s a shame what the country has become.”
Facebook: @Tunde Odesola