Nigeria is such a funny and confused place. And I don’t mean this in a disparaging manner. A few recent examples will suffice:
Four days after, we still do not know if workers will be earning N30,000 as minimum wage or not, even though we were made to believe that the federal government had accepted the recommendations of the tripartite committee and will be forwarding those recommendations to the national assembly for “passage within the shortest possible time”.
Now, the government has come out to say it never said it had agreed to pay anyone N30,000 as minimum wage.
Take 2: Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, has come out to say it costs the federal government N3.5million monthly to feed Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
El-Zakzaky is the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) or Shiite sect who was arrested in 2015 after his followers clashed with a military convoy in Zaria, Kaduna State.
Going by Mohammed’s disclosure, feeding El-Zakzaky behind prison walls is costing this nation N112,000 daily. To put it another way, El-Zakzaky eats food worth N112,000 daily! All by himself!! Are they feeding him raw gold? Not even the world's worst gluttons can manage this feat on their best days.
Even by Nigeria’s steep inflationary standards, that’s a ridiculous and outrageous amount of money to spend on food for one individual in a day! For a minister to be caught on tape saying a thing like that at a press briefing says a lot about the quality of persons who are parading themselves as government officials across the country.
It is not even the flippancy with which Mohammed uttered the remarks that is at issue here. It is the fact that he made a declaration like that without providing any form of reference, context or proof whatsoever.
El-Zakzaky is no Yokozuna with some abnormal ghrelin levels. Mohammed also made it sound like El-Zakzaky has become a burden on the state with his rapacious appetite. But it is the state that has kept El-Zakzaky behind bars against his will, because the man would love nothing more than to return to his temple and family.
El-Zakzaky was only allowed a court appearance this year following public outcry and he has been denied bail on a couple of occasions in a manner that suggests the government is doing everything to keep him grounded in a prison cell.
The world must be laughing at Nigeria because of Mohammed’s remarks and who can blame them? Governance is serious business worldwide. But you wouldn’t guess that from listening to Nigerian officials speak or watching how they conduct themselves in public.
Mohammed has told one online news platform that he spoke “off the record” and the first platform that ran the N3.5m feeding story has been forced to sanction its staff and tender an unreserved apology to the minister.
But it is Mohammed who should be issuing an unreserved apology to Nigerians and the world for regaling them with such bare-faced lies time and again without flinching.
Nigerians really deserve better than the crop of leaders they have been 'blessed' with.