“A liar is a person who tells lies, who has previously told lies, or who tends by nature to tell a lie repeatedly — even when not necessary.”
A long time ago, at a small family reunion, I watched as a father narrated a movie to the kids. Unknown to him, the kids had seen the same film. He went about mumbling the storyline; while the older ones feigned attention, one of the younger ones just blurted out: “Daddy, it’s a lie.”
Why is it that Nigerians have embraced lies as a national pastime, from the governed to those doing the governance itself? Lies are told about electricity. The whole APC administration is filled with filthy lies. Lying about education, lying about health. And the lies of the opposition PDP are even filthier.
The cost of lies to our national development cannot be quantified. It is fashionable that parents lie to kids, husbands to wives, wives to sisters, employers to employees. How about those lies that are absolutely unnecessary, lies that officials tell that leave you dazed, confused and in wonderment?
Telling the truth is just unthinkable. It has simply become a deviant attitude to be truthful. In fact, as a rule, you learn to lie by default on becoming a leader in Nigeria, whether in politics, administration or faith.
When a goat’s day “to die” arrives, it says there is nothing a butcher can do to it. (A person who does not recognise and heed danger courts death.) Through our lies as a people we only court death.
I am told a lie is a type of deception in the form of an untruthful statement, especially with the intention to deceive others. To lie is to state something with disregard to the truth with the intention that people will accept the statement as truth.
A liar is a person who tells lies, who has previously told lies, or who tends by nature to tell a lie repeatedly — even when not necessary.
The three definitions suit the current group we call leaders, particularly the third one. I really do not blame them so much because, as a people, we have become accustomed to accepting lies as statements of truth.
There are several types of lies, like the big lie, a lie which attempts to trick the victim into believing something major and likely be contradicted by some information the victim already possesses, or by their common sense. When the lie is of sufficient magnitude, it may succeed due to the victim’s reluctance to believe that an untruth on such a grand scale would indeed be fabricated.
The fuel subsidy is a classic big lie. All the stories about a growing economy out of recession are lies, all those stories on rice farms, cockroach farming are staged-managed with half truths, misinformation and falsification.
Whether the factory is in Plateau State or Abia, give it a few months and visit the same commissioned arrangement and you will see the lie. The problem is not just the lies, but also the lunacy behind the figures when money is involved in a Nigerian lie.
There is another lie we call bluffing. And to bluff is to pretend to have a capability or intention one does not actually possess. Bluffing is an act of deception that is rarely seen as immoral when it takes place in the context of a game, where this kind of deception is consented to in advance by the players.
For instance, a gambler who deceives other players into thinking he has different cards to those he really holds or an athlete who hints he will move left and then dodges right is not considered to be lying (also known as a feint or juke). In these situations, deception is acceptable and is commonly expected as a tactic.
This is one tactic the current APC administration has continually used, and, as long as Nigerians do not react and cannot complain, it is an acceptable tactic; after all, previous Nigerian governments, like the PDP, have been using it, why bother our amiable, incorruptible Mr. Muhammadu Buhari?
For all the noise, when the chips are down, the Kemi Adeosun NYSC exemption certificate brouhaha will die away, if at all there is anything like that, and we will do nothing. Government at all levels lie. Who is government? You, them and me. Them, they are there. You, aspiring to be there. Me, hoping to be there … to chop, you must lie or be lied to.
When we want to be truthful, we suddenly realise that we are Igbo, Hausa, Ijaw, Urhobo, Yoruba, Idoma, Muslims and Christians, and we continue lying. There is simply no truth in us. Our tales by moonlight are exactly what they are, tales.
There is the barefaced lie. It is one that is obviously a lie to those hearing it. A lie told with a straight and confident face (hence “bold-faced”), usually with the corresponding tone of voice and emphatic body language of one confidently speaking the truth.
These kinds of lies have been elevated in recent times. Go and ask those that told us that a snake swallowed money, monkeys ran away with money, a governor was slapped and his neck shifted and yet could carry his broken arm … that killers of our women and children are from Libya.
Only in climes like ours are such absurd lies told with our knowledge, and we know they are lies, but they are delivered with boldness. What can we do?
When our leaders in various spheres are not lying directly to us, they are being economical with the truth, a popular euphemism for deceit, whether by volunteering false information or by deliberately holding back relevant facts. More literally, a careful use of facts so as not to reveal too much information; because we either cannot handle the truth or we are allergic to it.
Big lies, economical lies, crazy lies, they bluff, they stare at us like Babatunde Fashola and his co-travellers telling us that Nigerians are enjoying electricity at its best, second only to the US, 25 hours per day. Whether it is the newspapers and the media lies, whether the narrative is Fulani herdsmen, technical defeat of Boko Haram, or bandits, or the narrative of the natives, we struggle with the truth.
But, really, when an ordinary citizen lies to another about the cost of a thing as simple as the shoes on his feet, does he or she not deserve lies in turn from those that ordinarily should be responsible with the truth to him? What really is rocket science about a minister addressing the truthful status of her service to the nation, after all, if no be lie, time will tell.