Like when a refulgent light slams into a stygian darkness, ripping darkness apart and destroying shadows, truth tears into lies and lays away the darkness in which people and societies sit, helping them to recover. After he assumed office in 2015, it took about six months for President Muhammadu Buhari to handpick and thoroughly vet the members of his cabinet.
When he announced that he had finally decided on his team, it was with a great sense of expectation but also anxiety and trepidation that Nigerians ran through the list seeking for those whose antecedents could bespeak competence in the new government and hope for Nigeria. That expectation was cruelly dashed when among the names of the ministerial nominees were faces Nigerians knew pretty well and for unpalatable reasons.
Lai Mohammed was on the list and he was one of the few who gave Nigerians cause for hope. This was because though he had barely served Nigeria in any national capacity, his robust avowal of his party`s principles as its spokesperson made many believe that such vigorous ideas would translate into clear and implementable policies once in government. That hope has proven largely misplaced. Nigerians have long had sustained suspicion about whoever occupies the position of the Minister of Information.
This is because over the years, the position has come to be associated with official propaganda, sharply tailored to launder the image of the government in power as well as engage in damage limitation, while steering well clear of confronting critical national issues. So when the portfolio fell to Lai Mohammed, the politician from Kwara State had his work cut out for him. In a Nigeria grappling with many enemies at the same time, that work has fixed him square in the eye of the storm and the cascade of criticisms he has collected from Nigerians has been caustic and relentless.
Mocking appellations have been coined just for him and in a country whose humour is matched only by its many woes, Nigeria`s Minister of Information has quickly become a figure of fun. Recently, the Minister took the curious position that Nigeria is amongst the safest countries in the world. The statement came about the day the murder of a Nigerian Catholic major seminarian in Kaduna State made international headlines. The irony was especially grating. As Nigeria`s Minister of Information, it takes a great amount of wisdom to engage in the delicate and difficult balancing act of telling the Nigerian people about the activities and policies of the government in power and massaging the ego of the same government.
This difficult task becomes even more difficult when the country is battling a host of national challenges as now. Now, it maybe that the Minister of Information by virtue of his office is privy to information Nigerians do not have about the security situation of the country. But if that probable information is that Nigerians dwell in safety and security, it violently disagrees with the everyday experience of Nigerians. Insecurity currently ravages the country. This fact tallies a telling testament in the number of Nigerians killed or abducted daily by the criminals and marauders who seem to be sticking out of every corner and crevice of the country.
The Minister of Information is always in the difficult spot of having to take a position. He has largely stuck to the path of his predecessors in failing to confront the issues facing the country as they come. In this, he has largely failed in his responsibilities to the Nigerian people.
Nigeria is facing a lot of crises at the moment. A lot of these crises can be chalked down to the failure of transparency and accountability especially in the corridors of power. This grim situation exists because those who should be applying the salve of truth to Nigeria`s many wounds choose silence a times and outright falsehood at other times. In doing this, they compound Nigeria`s problems. This group of people must always be reminded of their responsibilities to the truth and the country because without the light of truth, the country would continue to sit in its present darkness.
Obiezu wrote from Abuja.
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