With Uncle Lai, everything is a possibility. That’s what happens to those afflicted by the spirit of Dolos. They are like sheep in a salt market…
You may never have heard of Dolos (Dolus). In Greek mythology, Dolos is the undisputed spirit of guile, cunning craftiness, lies and its many cousins including subterfuge. Dolos is the master of fibs. The spirit of Dolos is in every man. Yes, man always has a tendency to spin a lie. But this spirit finds more expression in some men than in others. Nigeria’s Lai Mohammed has a good share of the Dolos syndrome. Indeed, a bad share, too much for one man. Lai lies. He lies to the nation. He lies to himself. He lies to all. Uncle Lai is a damn good propagandist. All good propagandists lean on lie, live on lies and leave you wondering if you are still a normal being.
Lai has been lying to the nation. But his latest that the Nigerian government spends N3.5 million monthly to feed detained leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) otherwise known as Shiites, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, beats all. It is a masterpiece from a man afflicted by the spirit of Dolos. In fairness to Uncle Lai, he has to lie to live. He must lie to keep his job. In brand management, it is a tough job trying to sell a bad product. Muhammadu Buhari, once thought to be a good guy that would alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians, has turned a very bad product; a soured soup that needed the best of seasonings to make it taste good again. But never. A soured soup remains what it is: offensive to the taste buds.
Buhari is a very bad product as it now stands. He is a bloody pretender, an impostor who badged into the hallway of governance and made a mess of it. And how odd he looks here. Unfit to lead; ungainly in his actions and brutally divisive in all his ways. Nigeria has had incompetent leaders; the likes of Goodluck Jonathan, Umaru Yar’Adua, and the crowd of military goons who intruded into the nation’s leadership space. But none of them has afflicted the people with pepper and pain more than Buhari. None has divided the nation along ethno-religious lines more than Buhari. And worst of it all, none has manifested worse cluelessness than Buhari. He is not only clueless, he is eternally unaware of the demands of his office.
Perhaps, minders of the President knew what awaited Nigerians and they propped up Uncle Lai as the Minister of Information (Propaganda). And the cap fits. Lai is a good liar. And lies have many variants. The great bard, Mark Twain, referencing former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, once wrote: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics”. Lai has mastered all. On behalf of this government, he has told the nation lies and damned lies. He has trotted out statistics, some standing on the props of absurdity, just to support his often weird claims.
But let’s be fair, Uncle Lai has to lie. This government is full of fraud, scam, perfidy, certificate forgeries and forgers, deceit and grand subterfuge, even dissimulation. Just check this out. Another uncle, Audu Ogbeh, the minister of agriculture who lusts after statistics and latches at any figure to support his spurious claims once came up with what only hybrids of Dolos could spin. He said Rice Mills in Thailand are shutting down because export to Nigeria has significantly declined or even non-existent. He even claimed that the Ambassador of Thailand was in his office to cry like a baby that Buhari government policy on local rice production has dealt a deadly blow to Thailand’s economy by pushing unemployment from 1.2 percent to four percent because Nigeria’s rice import has fallen by 95 percent. Wondrous wonder!
Quickly, the Thailand Ambassador, Wattana Kunwongse, repudiated the toxic lie. He described it as misleading and a distortion of actual conversation between himself and our Uncle Audu. And you just wonder, when will these actors on the nation’s political stage stop lying? But why lie just to look good when the realities on ground speak the contrary. But no matter, I salute Uncle Lai. He deserves an Oscar. He is the reason this government is still looking somehow good even when it is not doing good. Lai is the man for this moment. He makes Hitler’s Joe Goebbels look like an apprentice.
Nevertheless, I still like Uncle Lai. I like his passion for the absurd and the ludicrous. His voluble appetite for spin is matchless. When Lai is on duty and in his element, you can count on him to strike the chord of absurdity in a manner that sends you into a spasm of guttural guffaw. You just can’t stop laughing at Uncle Lai’s many wonders.
Thank goodness for social media, Nigerians now see behind the veil. They see the political actors in their raw, uncut state. I understand the sentiments of some journalists who blamed the TV reporter for transmitting aspect of a conversation with Lai Mohammed that was meant to be off-the-record (not off-record, please). It is unethical to do so. But when ethics clash with national interest (public interest or right of the people to know) it is only commonsensical that public interest wins. It is in the interest of Nigerians to know that a princely N3.5 million of their tax money goes into feeding a very important prisoner monthly.
That’s an average of N116,000 daily in a country still battling to pay N18,000 minimum wage. What does this Shiite leader eat? Even if he moved in there with his household, would they gulp and guzzle this much in food and drinks? It is practically impossible for Zakzaky to eat this much in one day. But with Uncle Lai, everything is a possibility. That’s what happens to those afflicted by the spirit of Dolos. They are like sheep in a salt market: obsessed, fixated and animatedly infatuated.
Our dear Uncle Lai is steeped in the darkest belly of lies and lying. He is afflicted and he needs help. Obviously, he can’t help himself. Like a sheep thrust into a salt dune, Lai needs to be shooed out of the scene. He needs to take the back stage in the fumbling Buhari government. He has caused this nation much embarrassment. The bad thing about lying is that at a point the liar loses his sense of shame. It’s his people, relations and friends who take the shame on his behalf. For Uncle Lai, I’m ashamed on your behalf.
Lai Mohammed obviously has lost his sense of shame. It does not matter to him what he says. He just opens his mouth and belches out statistics and claims too hard to prove and too surreal to be real. He does not need his audience to believe him. He just talks. Whether you are able to make sense of his nonsense is immaterial. It’s the way of all liars. The voice of propaganda consistently rings out: “Tell your lies boldly and persistently and people would be made to believe you.” That is the Lai way.
But we must help him. We must retrieve him from the abyss of absurdity into which he plunged himself. President Buhari should help us redeem our Uncle from the precipice before he recedes irredeemably into the umbra of lunacy.