By: Anthony Kolawole
The most dangerous level of lying is when the liar becomes addicted to manipulating the truth to an extent that he begins to believe his own lies as the truth. According to Vladimir Lenin, “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” Therein lies the danger to the society because history is forever distorted when such lies, presented as truth, go unchallenged as the future generations would read perverted accounts of events and would be non the wiser for it. It is this concept that convener of ENDS (Every Nigerian Do Something) terrorist sympathizer, Perry Brimah, sought to explore in his treatise that claimed that Jonathan defeated Boko Haram while President Muhammadu Buhari mopped up.
It is no surprise that Brimah got the brief to market evil as good. He has a track record in managing spin albeit unsuccessfully. His resume includes presenting fanatical members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) as victims and martyrs that are being oppressed by a repressive Federal Republic of Nigeria. The only problem? The group is an outlawed entity that a competent Judicial Panel deemed as militarized and radical. So is his brand of truth that it sought to misinform about a judicial panel.
Except he can prove otherwise, the essence of Brimah’s latest venture is to wrongly credit the disastrous government of former President Goodluck Jonathan with defeating an insurgency he helped aggravated. Given the mind boggling tales of malfeasance that surface daily about that dark era, Brimah’s lies fall in the realm of the ultimate insult. It is even more irresponsible that he unskillfully tried to mask the lies with a generous dose of half truths and those truths that cannot be wished away.
The truths in this case include his account of the initial blame game and ethnic biases that dominated the early days of Boko Haram becoming feral. As he noted, Jonathan was indifferent to the extent that he concluded the terror group was a creation of Nigerians in the north and they can kill themselves for all he cared. It was in the same period that the then opposition leader and now President Muhammadu Buhari expressed concerns at the way innocent people were being caught in the crossfire on the few occasions that the Army Jonathan commanded fought the terrorists. This truth does not however offer any mitigation for the half lies that followed.
For instance, Brimah, defender of human rights and freedom of the people, rues the decision of Jonathan to only impose a limited “half-baked” state of emergency in Borno state when he finally roused from his self induced slumber to act. The version emergency rule that this activists had wanted was for an elected governor to be sacked by an equally elected president. It was a misadventure under one time President Olusegun Obasanjo, which the law courts have put to rest as illegal. The implication of his preferred approach is that the Convener of ENDS absolutely has no regard for the constitution and would rather it is discarded to pave way for the hounding of people that are not in his good book.
Another half truth is presenting the refusal of the United States’ Barack Obama to sell military hardwares to the Jonathan led Nigeria and further blocking other countries from doing so. One, the Armed Forces under Jonathan barely followed rules of engagement, which resulted in accusations of human rights abuse, a justification that Brimah’s ally, Amnesty International explored to pursue the blockage of arms sales to Nigeria. The problem of human rights abuses created under Jonathan was to remain a burden for the military until the government of President Buhari was able to reverse the trend. Two, the pervasive corruption and pathological theft of state resources on an industrial scale under Jonathan was another justification for the US blocking arms sales. Although many of us criticized the US at that time, with the benefit of the what is known as “Dasukigate”, Nigerians and indeed the world now knows better.
That the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki, circulated pictures of hardware supposedly purchased by the Jonathan government is something for which he should separately stand trial. First, the pictures were mostly photoshopped jobs of images stolen from the internet; if these hardware were procured as stated he should tender them as evidence in his ongoing trial instead of challenging the jurisdiction of the court and seeking technicalities to explain the theft of $2.3 billion. Secondly, which competent NSA would openly advertise his latest acquisition when that would provide the needed information to his enemies, which would help them modify their attack strategies?
The lies won’t stop coming. Why should we praise the clueless one for attempting to solve a problem he worsened in the first place. In the almost six years he could have done something meaningful he did not: he could have at least prevented the terror group from going ballistic like it did even if he did not stamp it out. Instead, as Brimah himself admitted, he was exploiting Boko Haram as a political tool for regional suppression and as a constant subhead for stealing money. At some point, when it became clear that he would roundly lose any election, he was hinted to have considered using Boko Haram as cover not to hold elections – he later proved this by using it as a cover to shift the polls in the hope that he would recover some ground before votes are cast. To justify the postponement of the elections, the army that was largely demoralized under him was for the first time ordered to fight and show some result for PR benefits. The proof? Boko Haram usually returns to any town or village the Jonathan commanded Army liberated.
By the way, these tales of liberated places under Jonathan came at a price higher than paying $350 per night to mercenaries who would normally be standing trial in their home country for committing crimes; we also paid the price of suffering the indignity of leaving our affairs in the hands of people who would find a way for the crisis to persist so that they can continue to get paid.
As for the stories of the places that Brimah considered as liberated under Jonathan, one only needs ask why he refused to do a victory lap to the place and why IDPs did not immediately return there. He should also explain why the military under President Buhari had to liberate these places a second time. Had Jonathan won the election, would he have bothered about the mopping up that Brimah is now dismissing as inconsequential. If a mopping up is not done and the liberated places demined would it have qualified as defeat of the terror group?
It is comical that Brimah, who is one of those chanting the anthem that Boko Haram cannot be considered defeated, has now changed gear to claim that they were defeated under the previous government. This double standard on an unprecedented scale.
While we may be already accustomed to Brimah’s penchant for distorting facts to suit his current brief, this treatise of his should put Nigerians on alert because like the gathering of clouds that precede storms, articles like this from Brimah indicate that there is a major offensive in the offing against the state. His article is the poisonous potion intended to numb the public consciousness to the realities of the dark days that his hero, Goodluck Jonathan, brought Nigeria to the precipe. Beyond the now, the article is further intended to poison history and archives so that future generations will be fed lies.
We must therefore not encourage Brimah, or any other person for that matter, to continue repeating lies to the extent that they begin to sound like the truth. What is needed is to call him out on this distortion of the Boko Haram defeat story. We must call him out on any future manipulation of truth he may get the brief to carry out.
Kolawole PhD, a University teacher contributed this piece from Keffi, Nasarawa State.