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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Insecurity: ‘Figure of speech’ as ineptness

By Busuyi Mekusi


Gripped by palpable insecurity, the ‘madness’ in the Nigeria socio-political space is not receding in a hurry, as ‘madmen’ are now ‘specialists’, who parade laurels, earned: causing sorrow, inflicting pains, and shedding innocent blood. It is a ‘season of anomy’, leaving tigers of some vociferous personalities vigorously ‘shouting their tigretude’. The vampires in the forests now have advocates in government houses and private palatial empires. Reports of Gumi’s odysseys to the marauding groves of criminals in our forests have turned out to be a testimonial about the vulnerability of Nigerians, and a people poised for war against the State. Is Bala a sponsor of terrorism and terrorists, as claimed by Samuel Ortom? No doubt, for Bala, the mouth would always speak out of the abundance of the heart.
Figure of speech is simply described as “any intentional deviation from literal statement or common usage that emphasizes, clarifies, or embellishes both written and spoken language”. It is analogous to the palm-oil with which roasted yams are eaten, particularly at a time when good ordinary staple foods are scarce, given the devastation of atrocious weather and destructive herders, as well as openly-grazed domestic animals in our various communities. Figure of speech helps to say the unsaid, leaving behind huge ‘silences’. Figure of speech is, therefore, an artistic instrument available to writers/speakers to complete ‘unfinished businesses’. Bala Mohammed, in an attempt to diminish the negative repercussions of his justification of the ‘illegal ownership’ of Ak-47 by herders, has invented a new conceptual framework, behaving like a lexicographer in the discourses of terror and terrorism.
Representing the insincerity of political gladiators in relating to the issue of insecurity in Nigeria, Bala Mohammed receded to circumlocution or pleonasm in order to spew saliva and hold back blood! Circumlocution “is a rhetorical device that can be defined as an ambiguous or paradoxical way of expressing things, ideas, or views. In fact, when somebody wants to remain ambiguous about something, and he does not want to say a thing directly, it means he is using circumlocution”, while Pleonasm, derived from a Greek word meaning ‘excess’, “is a rhetorical device that can be defined as the use of two or more words…to express an idea”. We would grope long in the dark if we continue to speak with tongue in cheek.
Just like the uncommon stories of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Gumi’s Travels have given credence to the antics of the ‘forests of one thousand demons’, and justified Obadiah Mailafia, the ex-deputy Governor of the CBN, who had claimed in an interview on ‘Morning Crossfire’ programme, powered by Nigeria info Abuja 95.1FM, on 10th August, 2020, that aircrafts were used to distribute arms and ammunitions to terrorists during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown. He had cited information and intelligent reports gathered by his network from repentant terrorists. The DSS that severally invited Malaifa for questioning is yet to apologise to him, and commend him for treading where they could not, now that his claims turned out to be true. Nigeria monsters are not giving up in their monstrous suppression of the citizens through monstrousity. Gumi’s re-narration of bandits and monstrous herders as peaceful aggrieved people, and not terrorists, does not just attempt to draw wools over our eyes, but clearly indicates the irony of possible backing and culpability from very highly-placed quarters. His justification of the horrendous activities and agitations for amnesty to bandits and terrorists are equally suggestive of carefully-calculated efforts to achieve some very nefarious ends.
Equating the agitations for the development of the Niger Delta area by militants to the criminal behaviours of individuals, based on economic vulnerability and shrunk space, is as heinous as the crimes being underplayed. The arms paraded by Gumi’s ‘disciples’ in pictures and videos portend existential annihilation, and remain a slap on the sovereignty of ‘constituted authorities’ who are increasingly losing spaces to criminals as well. Gumi’s assault on our sensibilities wants us to see his confirmed criminals as “peaceful people” who kill because of justifiable provocations. Gumi is best described as the Minister of Banditry, with the Inspector General of Police not interested in finding the killers of Ifon Oba, but more interested in unmasking the killers of cows in the same community. This ‘cowlisation’ of humanity must stop!
Ahmed Lawan’s, the Senate President, lampooning of South west governors for what he called failure of leadership, and incitement by authorities, is akin to the idea of pointing a finger at someone, with the others facing the direction of the accuser, given the parlous insecurity that has made it impossible for him to visit his State, unless the hand doing the pointing is leprous. Atiku’s cosmopolitan view about the convolution is nothing but a futile proposition of selfish statelessness and ambiguous Nigerianness, with his own characterisation through the platform offered him by Adamawa. Yes, identity could be concentric, as posited by Achebe, but the ongoing identification with criminality by some notable personalities leaves much to be desired.
Tinubu’s weak cautious cautioning about the devastation of ethnic wars is not lost, given the systematic ethnic-propelled killings Nigeria witnessed in the past, including the ethnic pogroms that culminated in the Civil War. Pockets of ethno-religious killings also remain unfortunate commentaries about Nigeria political evolution. Fulani’s forests ownership is breeding wars at the backyard of other ethnic groups, even as cosmopolitan citizenship is still mitigated by artificial borders. Wolves would always pounce on sheep! Ak-47 is now a submerged metaphor and metonymy for herders, replacing the tending sticks. Whereas the metaphorical sense therein paradoxically signifies the wars at hand, metonymy is a figure of speech in which one object or idea takes the place of another with which it has a close association.
The punning of the names of certain major players would accentuate some of their dispositions through the meaning-making inherent in ‘figure of speech’. For instance, if we pun the name; Gumi, it could inflect the Yoruba word: gύnmi, meaning ‘stab me’. The sound generated is, therefore, onomatopoetic, as it illustrates, through sound, the act to be performed. So, Gumi is asking that his criminal friends should ‘stab on still’. Bala, when repeated twice, as allowed by another figure of speech, Anaphora, would give us: Bála bàla, a Yoruba word to mean ‘indecently rough’. So, Bala Mohammed is indecent in speech, and rough with ideas. The third name is that of the Governor of Zamfara State, Mattawale. If punned, we would have: mátawálé, meaning ‘bring pepper home’. With Governor Bello Mattawale’s recommendation of negotiation with bandits and terrorists, it is obvious that he is living up to his name to rob more pepper in the eyes of Nigerians. Akeredolu of Ondo State remains a formidable force in a ‘small frame’, while Makinde of Oyo State is expected to bring to bear more courage, as required by their names.
It is commendable that some antithetical voices, amidst the figurines of madness, still interrogate the Fulani larger-than-life posturing, with the Sultan of Sokoto leading the advocacy that bandits and killer-herders are terrorists. Governor Ganduje has unexpectedly sternly opposed the continuous reliance on obnoxious traditional itinerant herdsmanship, in favour of a modern model like ranching. El-Rufai is also sustaining the call for state police. Aso Villa seems to be empty as against our crowded forests, as Elderstatesmen have cried themselves hoarse. Nigeria is, no doubt, on a precipice!
There is urgent need to end circumlocution, as we hear one another speak. The condescending dispositions of some northern elements must stop, as further provocation would turn the products of their past failures and present ineptitude, who are aimless, visionless and directionless army of dysfunctional socio-economic systems roaming Nigeria streets, on them.
Congratulate Arákùnrin and Aiyédatiwa on their inauguration, as I hope Arákùnrin would be more decisive in policies relating to institutional stability, regular salary payment and other welfare needs of workers, workable health care, functional and affordable education, renewable infrastructure, partnership for industrialisation, compact and scientific governance, ICT-driven security, transparency and accountability, among others. Do have a successful second tenure!

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