By Abdulhamid Olabonle
Lying is a hateful and accursed Vice. We have no other tie upon one another, but our word. If we did but discover the horror and consequences of it, we should pursue it with fire and sword, and more justly than other crime – Michel de Montaigne.
Sin has many souls, but a lie is the handle that fits them all – Oliver Wendell Holmes Senior
Many body of works – literary, philosophical, religious, etc – have been produced about lies and the art of lying. However, one finds the phrase of the famous 16th-century Essayist of the French Renaissance, Michel de Montaigne quoted above very apt in describing the abhorrence of this art which the Boston, US-based physician and poet, Holmes, described as the handle that fits all sins. In other words, the art of lying or telling lies is one of the most egregious sins in human relations.
It becomes the worst sin when it is engaged as a tool either to get to power or to sustain the power holder in office. A most dangerous instrument to employ or deploy in governance, it seems. However, this dark instrument of power employed by unpopular administrators and desperate power seekers is what the good people of Kwara have endured in the past 1,682 days or 240 weeks and three days of the Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq administration. If further broken down, the period of lies to which Kwarans have been subjected is equal to 40, 638 hours and 2,422,080 minutes. Our calculation is based on the morning of May 29, 2019, when the incumbent governor of Kwara State was first sworn in on January 5, 2024.
Yet, the people still have 1,244 more days to endure as this governor does not seem to be relaxing in formulating and circulating falsehood to either deflect attention from his obvious failure in governance, the inability to match his predecessors’ track records, lack of necessary academic credentials or social credibility to network – all of which are necessities for a man who occupies such important position as the Governor of the State of Harmony.
Since he first emerged as the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019, Abdulrahman has invested more time, resources, and ingenuity in either lying to run down his predecessors or to deceive the people. We will mention some of his claims which are outright lies. These came out either in his campaigns or since he assumed office as governor. He either spews forth these inaccuracies or gets his numerous, well-paid propaganda team to circulate them.
He got elected by concocting many lies against key individuals in the then-ruling party in the state. Many of the lies were not only meaningless, but they still shaped the opinion of the people at that time because they were repeatedly disseminated with so much bile and hatred. There was the one about the then Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki deducting for his personal use N2 billion naira from the monthly allocation to the state from the federal purse. This he was said to be doing by following the money right from Abuja to Ilorin. One wonders how much the federal allocation to Kwara State was then for an individual to get N2bn without the state collapsing under the burden of shortage of funds. Now that Abdulrahman has been in power for 54 months, he has not told the people what has happened to the N2bn per month since it is no longer being collected by that same person. Or is the same Saraki who is not in power at the state and federal level still collecting that money?
There was also the lie that former that the Senate President sponsored the Offa robbery. All facts from the report of the police investigation of the case, to the Attorney General of the Federation’s evaluation of the report, the testimony given by the suspects during the trial, and even common sense have indicated that that was a pure lie.
There is also the falsehood that Saraki’s wife bought the Ilorin Children Amusement Park, that Saraki also sold the Ilorin Eid praying ground, that the Saraki family owned the Shonga Farms, or that Saraki sold Kwara hotels to his cronies. All these have been proved to be pure falsehood and mischief as testified to by subsequent actions of the state government. There are still more issues from the pre-2019 election campaign of calumny and falsehood launched by Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq against the Sarakis and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-controlled government in power in the state.
Even though it was with the aid of lies, the governor got elected. Events arising since he has been in office in the last 54 months have demonstrated the limit of the power of lies. He has been confronted with the reality of office. His response has shown a lack of competence, capacity, and calculation to deliver good governance. And thus the lies have continued, unabated.
It is one lie one day. A multiplicity of errors. When the government is not lying about its findings on what transpired under the past administration, it is making inaccurate claims about what it will deliver to the people. Lies now underline project delivery, programme conception, and policy projection. There are so many failed promises that the government has been nicknamed a ‘PAF Administration’. PAF is a sobriquet for a government that serially makes promises to the people and fails them, otherwise known as ‘Promise and Fail’.
For a better understanding of why the government has not been able to complete and commission a project or launch a policy or Programme for the benefit of the people, take a look at the failed promises and lies itemised below.
• The promise of consequential adjustment of salary of SUBEB and LGA staff since 2022 remains unfulfilled.
• The claim that the administration uncovered inexistent schools in the roll of public schools that are being financially provided for by the state government has remained unsubstantiated since 2019.
• Similarly, the claim made in June 2019 that thousands of ghost workers were found in the state’s payroll remains an empty claim.
• The promise to resume payment of monthly subvention to the state-owned university, KWASU, since November 2019 remains unfulfilled.
• The promise that the N2.4 billion Tanke Bridge will be completed by December 2022 and opened for use in January 2023 remains a mirage. The bridge is about to be reconstructed and the contract re-awarded. PAF at work.
• In December 2021 while speaking at the combined 8th and 9th convocation ceremony of the Kwara State University, the Governor stated that his administration had secured funding for the completion of the two campuses of the state university at Osi and Ilesha Baruba. Till now, no construction is going on in the two sites. Rather, Abdulrahman is talking about starting a new University of Education in Lafiagi. Another lie gone awry.
• The Garment Factory is to become operational in February 2023 and be commissioned by Buhari. There was so much exaggeration as to what the factory could represent and contribute to the state’s economy. Buhari stayed away when it was discovered that the so-called factory is just a mere large, tailor’s workshop and is nothing fantastic or creative that is worth the time of a President to be cutting tape there.
• The announcement that then President Muhammadu Buhari will be in Kwara State in January or February 2023 to commission projects. It turned out that throughout the four years of the second tenure of Buhari, he never visited the state because the government had no projects deemed to be worthy of presidential time.
• The Abdulrazaq administration took an N35 billion bond to execute projects. Nobody has seen projects worth that amount on the ground. Later the government claimed it saved N17bn from the fund in a bank. The question is: who goes to the capital market to raise funds for development and keeps it in the bank? The government became a subject of scorn and laughter with the claim. The fresh question is what has happened to the money in the bank? Is it still there? If not, on what project has it been spent? The people are expecting more lies.
Apart from failing in its many promises to the people, Governor Abdulrazaq and his aides have also veered into the area of making false claims about the viable projects that the administration inherited from its predecessors. Its litany of lies in this area include:
• The Saraki government did not do anything about the Ilorin International Airport. This falsehood fell flat on its face with various reports on the internet indicating how then President Olusegun Obasanjo in July 2006 visited Ilorin to commission the terminal building, a new maintenance hangar, and all other accouterments of a modern airport that replaced the old dilapidated airfield in place before 2004. The then-president praised Saraki for the frugality and quality of work that the terminal building represented. Only N125 million was spent on the building which today has drawn many commercial airlines to operate passenger flights in and out of Ilorin daily.
• The false claim that the Abdulrazaq government listed the establishment of the Kwara State Geographical Information Service (KW-GIS) as part of its achievements. Meanwhile, the truth is that the Saraki administration has since July 23, 2009, commissioned one of the most modern means of capturing, storing, processing, and analyzing geographic/land-related information for various uses – the GIS system – in Kwara State. And the price was also one of the best – N200 million.
• The false claim that the present administration in Kwara State initiated the Kwara State Community Insurance Scheme. This cannot be true as the scheme was first initiated in 2007 by the Saraki administration. The agency to administer the scheme was later established by law on November 15th, 2017 under the Abdulfatai Ahmed administration. The Programme was a public-private participation model facilitated by HCHC and PharmAccess Foundation with a premium subsidy funding agreement between the Kwara State Government and the Dutch Health Insurance Fund.
Overall, as it is typical of those who employ lies to sustain their relevance or acceptability, more lies need to be woven to cover the previous ones released to the receivers. The Abdulrazaq government has continued to create more falsehoods to hoodwink and deprive the people of their natural benefits. In one such new lie, the government has embarked on devising phantom projects to deceive the people. The government claimed to be spending a lot much money on constructing a Creative Centre. This is another falsehood. An observer described the Centre as a ‘white elephant project’ as the Centre is “just a congregation of shipping containers repurposed behind a large facade”. The government is accused of sponsoring a needless humongous project while neglecting the State Performing Arts Council building ‘modeled as a smaller version of the National Arts Theatre in Lagos”.
There are so many real-life situation instances one can cite to show that the Abdulrazaq government is based and sustained on lies. Well, the people of Kwara State have endured the falsehood for so long. They are just counting down the days when the light will shine from Ilorin to Baruten, Iludun, and across the state. When the fit-all tool of sin, as stated by Holmes, will stop being the major instrument of governance in the state.
Olabonle writes from Ilofa, Kwara State