UNTIL the March 28 and April 11 polls, Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State was the most accomplished liar in Nigerian politics. He lied without compulsion; he lied eagerly; he reveled in lying; and he breathed and ate lies. Indeed, for some dizzying moments in the past one year and a little more, it was thought that for this man of no scruples whatsoever, and one who had no private or public reputation, no one could hold a candle to him in the practiced art of lying. It is no longer clear whether his notoriety can be guaranteed for all time, for as events in the past few weeks have shown, this fecund hatchery of lies from Ekiti has spawned a brood of enthusiastic and ambitious liars at the national level, men and politicians who suffer no religious or cultural barriers against lying.
Here are a few past and recent Fayose lies for the public’s consideration. While campaigning for the June 2014 Ekiti governorship poll, he told the world through campaign posters, text messages, and other media that his opponent in the race, Kayode Fayemi, owned a university in Ghana, operated fat overseas bank accounts, and built a palatial mansion in his hometown in Ekiti. None was true, even though nearly everyone believed, for few trusted Nigerian politicians. A few weeks ago, at the peak of his battle with 19 All Progressives Congress (APC) Ekiti lawmakers intent on impeaching him, he showed the press what he described as evidence of the payment of the lawmakers’ withheld salaries and allowances. But according to the former Speaker, Adewale Omirin, no payment of any kind was made. No lie was too low for Mr Fayose to embrace. Once this obsessively combative governor sets his mendacious mind on anything, he knows how to obtain it by fraud, subtlety, and outright lies. Watch his ongoing battle with Iyaloja (leader of Ado Ekiti market women), Waye Oso.
But Mr Fayose was often successful with his lies, a fact that may be spurring other desperate and guileful politicians to borrow from his rulebook. First to consult, alas, is the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. Responding to what his opponents described as his perfidious manipulation of the senate leadership elections of June 9, Senator Saraki spun an elaborate yarn about his opponents’ attempt to abduct him on the day of the senate election. Though he was unsure whether his enemies planned to bar or abduct him, and used both terms interchangeably, he painted not just a story of aggravated ruse but one of extreme incompetence by his supposed abductors.
Hear Senator Saraki at length: “As regards the meeting, on the morning of the inauguration, I didn’t finish meeting until 4am of that day and I had got information that efforts would likely be made to make sure that I didn’t get access into the chambers. So, as early as 4:00am and 5:00am, I had made contingency plans that I must get into the National Assembly because the plan before was that Senators-elect should go to the Transcorp Hilton Hotel around 8:00clock and 9:00am to proceed to the National Assembly. But I was advised that it would not be safe or secure for me to do that because some people made sure that if I didn’t get into the chambers, it would not be possible for me to be nominated for the nomination to be seconded and for me to accept the nomination. I can tell you (today) that I was in the National Assembly Complex as early as 6:00 in the morning and I stayed in a car in the park from 6:00 in the morning till quarter to 10:00am.”
Senator Saraki is certainly not so unrecognisable as to elude his supposed captors, nor his enemies so incompetent as not to make any contingency plans against him close to the National Assembly grounds had they been as malevolent as he believed or painted them. Even common kidnappers have proved more adept at hauling their quarries into forest dens. It seemed, however, that Senator Saraki obviously imagined what schemes his opponents might concoct, and then proceeded to embody those fictional plans, and breathed life into them via a colourful and adventurous Dickensian story of guns and robbers, victims and kidnappers. Lies, like common aphrodisiacs, enable men to soar to unimaginable heights. And, Senator Saraki soared. “Never in our wildest imagination did we envisage that some Senators would not be present on the day of the inauguration,” he feigned. Neither he nor anyone present on the Senate floor on June 9 believes this egregious lie and appalling dissimulation. If in their ‘wildest imagination’ they never expected their colleagues to be absent, they would have waited and made enquiries as to what befell their comrades. But not only did they proceed into the election with indecent haste, they rounded up the sordid affair very quickly and have stuck to the rebellion they hatched on the Senate floor ever since. Senator Saraki knew where his colleagues went, and for what reasons. Though he argued he could still have won the election with his absent colleagues present, and the public, including this column, tempted to believe him, there was nothing he did on June 9 that indicated or underscored that confidence, not even his unimaginative but florid account of what transpired on that day.
Bringing up the rear of the lying troika, at least for now, is the feisty, loquacious and irreverent Dino Melaye, the senator from Kogi West. When it comes to telling lies and exhibiting atrocious behaviour, there is no settling the precedence between Governor Fayose and Senator Melaye. They are two sides of a bad coin. Early in the week, Senator Melaye, perhaps jittery over the case between him and Senator Smart Adeyemi at the Kogi election tribunal, a case now before the Appeal Court, spun a story of an attempt by APC national leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to influence the court. Said Senator Melaye: “I have no regret supporting Senator Saraki, and my electoral victory was ordained by God and not by man. Therefore, no mortal can reverse it. In God I trust, no matter how desperate they might be. I am privy to an electronic mail sent to Adoke by an Abuja-based senior editor who is close to Tinubu in which he forwarded the court papers filed by Smart Adeyemi at the tribunal to Adoke. In the said e-mail, Adoke was told to look for a trusted justice in the Court of Appeal who would be useful for Smart Adeyemi.”
Apart from the fact that Asiwaju Tinubu’s aides have debunked Senator Melaye’s innuendoes, which the public can choose to believe or disbelieve, it is remarkable that the senator, who by his behaviour is an atheist, now takes refuge in God, and even trusts Him. The fact is that the case is so loaded against Senator Melaye that it is inconceivable he can win it jurisprudentially. Hence the red herrings he is throwing everywhere. Importantly too, it is clear that by his antecedents, the senator is only a tad better in thuggish behaviour than Governor Fayose. Otherwise, as everyone in Abuja and Kogi West knows, Senator Melaye is as fiendish and revolting as Governor Fayose. The public should expect that the senator will spare no lie, excuse no scruple, and respect no morality in bruising his way into remaining a senator for the next four years. He is not in politics to project any value; he is there to nurse his ego and sate his gluttonous appetite for ephemeral things.
The electorate may be gullible and trusting of their politicians, and may even be eager to be led by the nose. But it is a matter of time before they recognise these gentlemen for whom they are. Governor Fayose did not contribute anything of value to Ekiti in his first tragic term in office; he will lie and pervert his way to worse behaviour in his second term. Senator Saraki has portrayed himself as a bulwark against imposition and a defender of legislative independence. Soon, he will show his true colour as probably the most ambitious and tyrannical politician whose narcissism knows no bounds. And the beefy, immoderate Senator Melaye, with his abridged perspective and little insight, will fry in the Homeric stew pan his legendary lies, winged imagination and little accomplishments have consigned him.