BY SIMON REEF MUSA
Truth is that irreducible requirement necessary for realising personal and societal progress and development. To be truthful to a cause is to ensure selfless commitment towards its realisation. A mind that is committed to a cause can never be weary through temporal setbacks and impediments. At the personal level, those who advocate for truth should be prepared to be vilified, pilloried and hauled over the coals for persecution. Those not lucky to survive the burden of truth have ended at the stakes and paid with their lives.
Very few truth seekers have escaped by the whiskers to witness the triumph of their truth; majority go down their early graves and give their blood in defence of their truth. Philosophers and inventors in the past have been at the harsh edge of repudiators of truth. As truth remains a constant denominator in search for personal and national progress and development, so have purveyors of truth remains victims of societies and nations committed to the enthronement of injustice and domination.
At a societal level, developed societies have deployed sheer commitment and sincerity in developing systems that have continued to awe civilization. Humanity may have been endowed with best ideas and policies in providing for the common good to move society out of the traps of underdevelopment, the role of leadership in broadening the frontiers of development through effective implementation of the right policies makes the difference.
That explains why undeveloped societies and countries are at rock bottom in realising theories expounded by philosophers and great minds to emancipate man from the clutches of poverty. Truth is not religion, else religious societies and nations would be living in Eldorado. Despite claims of being religious, societies engaged in religious adulations still hang on the cliff of underdevelopment and hewed in avoidable incessant upheavals created by human frailties. The Nigerian society that wallows in religious exaltations is still plagued with ferocious thirst for bestial domination as a mass of the citizens are victims of barbaric political leadership.
If truth were synonymous to religion, Nigerians would be living in abundant material prosperity unhindered by lack. However, most Nigerian leaders in various fields of human endeavors have abandoned truth to end crude bestial thirst for power and interminable greed. The propensity for a society to develop is almost equal to its propensity to enthroning justice and truth for all its members. When truth is upheld by any given system, the disposition to realising development becomes an easy path to tread upon.
For Nigeria, truth can be terrible and a hard path of thorns to be trodden upon. Power chasers sometimes ride on the wings of truth and, when fully seated on the corridors of powers, turned their backs to haunt and hunt truth advocates. Truth holds out realities that can never be denied. The disposition of enthroning justice and equity for citizens remains the cornerstone for societal and national development. Anything short of this is a long walk through the grim fields of scary impossibilities.
For a society to develop, leaders must listen to truth. It is in recognition of the relevance of freedom of speech in a democracy that free speech becomes the oxygen of a government elected by the people. It is expected that those who control levers of power must listen to all shades of opinions in order to know where the wind is blowing. When government attempts to gag free speech in a democracy, then, tyranny is being prepared to emasculate the essence of true government as expressed through the ballot.
Much as man appreciates the relevance for truth, those in the corridors of powers know that allowing truth to pull down the curtains of obfuscations cannot serve their interest. For justice and equity to hold sway, which is a form of truth, leaders must be at the forefront of installing systems hinged at upholding the truth. However, when those who are supposed to know truth are not even willing to listen to truth, the road to Armageddon is set to unfurl in the future.
The tragedy of hatred against truth by Nigerian leaders formed the fulcrum of Governor Babagana Umar Zulum’s presentation when he recently addressed top military officers at the National Defence College, Abuja. Tracing Nigeria’s malaise in development to refusal by leaders to listen to truth, the Borno state governor surmised the country’s woes on failure of leaders to be strategic and denial to truth.
According to Zulum, “However, telling the truth and accepting the truth has been our major problems in Nigeria. Some people will never tell you the truth when you are in power and honestly, many of us in power also do not want to hear the truth, we prefer to be told what we like to hear and that is a serious deficit in strategic leadership.”
It is irrefutable that present problems haranguing our nation is hinged on leaders’ rebuttal to truth. The failure of leaders in getting cronies to see beyond personal interest remains an excruciating pain for national growth. That explains why both elected and appointed public officials are more interested in befuddling issues than providing information for national interest. The template of competence has now been replaced with loyalty to occupants in the corridors of power. In attaining this feat, government aides are now falling over one another with annoying capacities to dish out falsehood in defence of their principals, no matter how incongruous such muddying of such facts may turn out to be.
As a nation, both elected and appointed officials of government have continued to have their teeth set on edge because they are comfortable eating the sour grapes of misrepresentation. It is on this account, various organs of governments have continued to play the ostrich when insurgent groups like Boko Haram and other criminal elements are steps ahead in decimating communities and spreading terror across the country. Despite rising spate of insecurity, the federal government has been relentless in assuring citizens that the deadly militant group has been “technically defeated.” When realities contrast with information from top government officials and their aides, then, propaganda becomes an official tool to deny the truth.
To portray to the world that Nigeria is winning the war against terror, a radicalisation programmes aimed at returning repentant Boko Haram elements into the society, becomes yet another tool for deception. News reports abound that some of these repentant insurgents have been returned to the militant sect to unleash further devastation on people.
Those who should know have alleged that the dream of ending insurgencies in Nigeria may turn out a mirage, as those mandated with the responsibility of obliterating terror attacks have turned the war into a huge drain pipe. The prospects of crushing insurgencies have been made impossible, not because the military cannot do their jobs, but the presence of fifth columnists in making huge capitals have now made the destruction of terror an impossible feat to be realised.
In re-aligning forces to achieve the ideals of nationhood amidst overriding falsehood and deception, a famous writer, William Faulkner, insists that citizens should never be afraid to raise their voices for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed, adding, “If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.” When courageous leaders and citizens rise up in defence of truth, as Governor Zulum did this week, the walk to emancipating Nigerians from the jaws of insurgents and criminal gangs can be made to be an achievable feat.