Speaking in tongues
After over two years of harping on a string on the threadbare topic of corruption, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Federal Government is beginning to sound as though speaking in tongues of sorts. Or, is there more to the ruling party’s much-ado stance on corruption than what the human eyes could perceive? Much-ado stance? Yes, because corruption and the fight to rid human societies of it are as ancient as recorded history. The Holy Writs, which some clerics have variously referred to as “the Manual of generic man,” respectively define corruption as any act that comes short of the Divine Mandate. The Divine Mandate essentially requires that man be creatively productive, even as the Creator in whose image man was made is creative. Man is then said to be corrupted when he falls short of his creative potential.
Naturally, therefore, corruption is best fought with creative productivity. But the Federal Government does not seem to be in sync with this universal imperative; and it has continued to expressly regard corruption as a cause rather an effect. Could this be the Federal Government’s version of speaking in tongues? Incidentally, speaking in a roundabout manner, or speaking tongue-in-cheek has become synonymous with the APC Federal Government. At its inception in 2015, the Buhari administration told Nigerians that the national currency, the Naira, will not be devalued irrespective of international pressure; but the government reversed its position few months after. Then, Buhari’s first Chief of Defence Staff, the ebullient military aviator, told Nigerians that the government knew the whereabouts of the abducted Chibok school girls in every material particular; only for the Commander-in-Chief himself to give the lie to that claim during his first, and to date only presidential chat on television. At one point the APC was all for restructuring Nigeria’s political architecture, but now that topic is apparently a “no-go area” for the Federal Government. Bewildering?
And just as bewildering, the Federal Government frequently double-speaks on constitutional interpretations, even on routine matters like the confirmation of presidential nominees for appointive positions. The Federal Government’s speak on the herdsmen challenge is no less bewildering. The perceived speaker-in-chief was mere weeks in office when he chorused words that would propel the APC-Federal Government anti-corruption war: “If Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.” But corruption has not killed any nation; and never could for the obvious reason of economic trickle down effects. So, Buhari’s anti-corruption war mantra translated from cause to effect would read something like: “If Nigeria fails to attain its productive potential, it may not survive much longer as one nation.” In other words, if Nigeria does not kill low productivity, low productivity will kill Nigeria. Wow; so this is what the Federal Government’s no-holds-barred war against corruption has been all about – apparently. We could now see that the gift of interpretation of tongues in a person is indeed an invaluable asset. Any tongues-speaking society bereft of such gifted persons could be said to be seriously endangered.
Strictly speaking, any society without interpreters of tongues must avoid speaking in tongues like a plague. However, should anyone in such societies aspire to speak in tongues, such persons must first ascertain their dexterity at interpretation before venturing forth. An admirable Catholic Archbishop fortuitously gave a good example of this a couple of weeks previously. The engaging Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan was reported to have told his congregation during a Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Gwarinpa, that he did not believe there is a latent plan to Islamise Nigeria, but…; hear him: “So let nobody deceive you; I don’t think there is anybody who plans to Islamise Nigeria, but even if they do, they have every right to do so. They have every right to do so provided they also know that I have the right to Christianise the whole of Nigeria. The answer is not in complaining and crying; stand up like a man and Christianise Nigeria…”
Hmm; Domini vobiscum, dear Archbishop for providing a crystal clear interpretation to your oracles. This is how to at once speak in tongues and interpret oracular revelations. Humanity is always the better for it. (I should like our Pentecostal brethren to pay the deserved attention to Cardinal Onaiyekan’s method of delivery, and seriously consider embracing it. Whilst not meaning to give offence, it’s however necessary to state that the Pentecostal version of speaking in tongues is at variance with the Christian Holy Writ’s – see First Corinthians 14:1-25). And, as often as not, the Pentecostal variant of tongues-speaking leaves onlookers as utterly mixed up in thoughts as ordinary Nigerians often find themselves when listening to government officials.
Therefore, government officials (more so the acting president, Yemi Osinbajo, a Pentecostal pastor who evidently has been speaking more in tongues as touching the sensitive issues of relocation of the IOCs headquarters and building modular refineries in the Niger Delta) couldn’t do worse than borrow a leaf from the Catholic Archbishop. But if the former find the latter’s delivery method rather abstruse, then government officials should consider the method of another Catholic Cardinal, who speaks plainly – he speaks “with the understanding;” and has been doing much of this lately. Cardinal Anthony Okogie, the fiery Archbishop of Lagos in a series of newspaper articles written in his characteristic simple English language, has been talking about the need for the Federal Government to pay urgent attention to the national economy to preserve the unity and peace of Nigeria. His message resonates without equivocation.
The APC-led Federal Government should stop speaking in tongues about its adopted methodologies for making Nigeria attain her productive potential. Corruption IS NOT Nigeria’s problem; low creative productivity IT IS. Low creative productivity is financial insecurity writ large; conclusion: Nigeria’s abysmal national productivity cannot outlive her systemic corruption. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s famous campaign phrase best captures Nigeria’s problem: “It’s the economy, stupid!”
If new television pictures of ailing President Muhammadu Buhari, two months after he departed for the United Kingdom on medical vacation, presented a sight for sore eyes, Chief John Oyegun’s baritone voice was music to itching ears when the APC chairman said, “…the president is strongly convalescing…all he is doing now is resting to regain his strength and stamina. Very soon he will return to Nigeria to fully resume office…” These are truly cheering developments, especially following the protracted media blackout on the president’s health. Once again congratulations Mr. President. Sooner than later, hopefully, long-suffering Nigerians will behold their fully recovered and re-invigorated substantive president back at his Aso Villa desk, to vigorously tackle Nigeria’s lingering economic challenges.
Nkemdiche is a consulting engineer based in Abuja.