Governor AbdulRazaq and the Politics of Truth, By Basheer Luqman Olarewaju
“…how vulnerable is the whole texture of facts in which we spend our daily life; it is always in danger of being perforated by single lies or torn to shreds by the organized lying of groups, nations, or classes…” (Hannah Arendt, “Lying in Politics: Reflections on The Pentagon Papers.”)
Unlike before when we cannot shout truth to power and even if we surmount the endless obstacles by putting on courage, it will never be heard; because in their philosophy, truth and politics don’t and mustn’t stand on common ground, the people focused governor of Kwara State is completely doing things differently by ensuring that truth and politics have no reason for not being on good terms with one another, and that the trucks of lies propagating by the enemy of state have always been the justified tool in their own political dealings. Sadly, it reveals something about the state of affairs they’re expecting the innocent masses to be living in.
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Ordinarily, fake news is nothing new in politics. For a long time the traducers are well known for their cataclysmic campaigns, so it shouldn’t alarm us that their lies against this government have become so abundant and transparent that we almost expect them. Lies have become part of the fabric of their ruinous daily lives.
It is very disturbing seeing uncensored articles across different social media fora majorly from the opposition and aggrieved ones spreading concocted lies that this administration has not done anything nor have they seen any changes to the state of affairs. Wouldn’t they be educated the more or better still, they feigned ignorance?! Anyways, the lie has always been instrumental for them to gaining political advantage and favor.
Since we all know their way and how inimical it could be to the development and peaceful coexistence of the state, why shouldn’t we decry the emergence of fake news? Why do we have to allow them to kill the truth by not allowing fact-checkers and fact-checking streams such a common feature of political debates? Why shouldn’t we care about truth so much in this particular moment? It isn’t because lying in politics has suddenly become a source of moral outrage – it has always been that.
The Abdulrazaq led-administration’s accountability and transparency earned her national and international recognitions and it becomes evident since we care about truth because in the past we’ve lost everything else: we’ve lost the ability to speak with ease; we’ve lost the ability to take opinions for granted; we’ve lost faith in science and experts; we’ve lost faith in our political institutions; we’ve lost faith in the Kwara dream; and we’ve lost faith in our democracy itself.
And the sad reality is, they have wired our psychology to the vague reality that truth can’t save us. Before Governor Abdulrazaq emergence, we have been subjected to one-man leadership. We can shout truth to power all day long and it will never be heard, because for them truth and politics have never stood on common ground. Kwarans understand that images distort the truth, and that political rhetoric by necessity is an act of distortion, a re-figuring of our common understanding of truth. Behold, they do not speak the same language, but that doesn’t mean the two aren’t related.
In “Truth and Politics,” whenever Arendt talks about truth she always specifies what kind of truth she means: historical truth, trivial truth, some truth, psychological truth, paradoxical truth, real truth, philosophical truth, hidden truth, old truth, self-evident truth, relevant truth, rational truth, impotent truth, indifferent truth, mathematical truth, half-truth, absolute truth, and factual truth. There is no “the truth,” only truth in reference to something particular. The adjectives she attaches to truth transform the concept into something worldly.
This administration deserves applause for she believes that, as a government of the masses, transparency and accountability cannot be overwhelming, and that truth-telling is related to our understanding of the common realm of human existence, our ability to appear in the world and share our experiences with one another. The modern age has taught us that rational truth is produced by the human mind; that we should be skeptical, cynical, and suspicious, and not trust our senses – so much so that we can no longer rely on our own ability to make meaning from our experiences. The cost has been the common fabric of reality, the sense from which we take our bearings in the world.
Factually, in the almost three years in government, this administration has brought noticeable differences, away from the past, to all sectors of the state across-the-board: talk of huge investment on education or road contributions for easier accessibility, or even fulfilling of social contract across the nooks and crannies of the. Alas, facts and events are the outcome of living and acting together, and the record of facts and events is woven into collective memory and history. These are the stories we tell and the traditions we challenge or uphold which give us a sense of durability in the world. We need this kind of truth in order to have a common ground to stand on, so that each individual can share their experiences and make meaning from them. These facts and events constitute what Arendt calls “factual truth.” They become the artifacts of living together, and it is factual truth that should most concern us.
Many thanks to this administration for if not for purposeful leadership and people oriented policies, factual truth has been in great danger of disappearance. It has, for long, engaged in a battle with political power, and it was the vulnerability of factual truth that made their deception possible. Factual truth has always been in danger, easily manipulated and subjected to censorship and abuse. Transparency has been in danger of “being maneuvered out of our world for a time, and possibly forever”. Meanwhile, facts and events are infinitely more fragile things than axioms, discoveries, theories, which are produced by the human mind.
Facts can change because we live in the ever changing world of human affairs. People can be written out of history books. Monuments can be torn down. Language can change, because meaning is malleable. None of this is new either. It has always happened and will continue to happen, but it shows “how vulnerable is the whole texture of facts in which we spend our daily life…”
The lies we face today against this administration are both similar and different. One might argue that a little unraveling is necessary to weave together new stories, but my conclusion is this: if we lose the ability to make meaning freely from our experiences and add them to the record of human existence, then we also risk our ability to make judgments and distinguish between fact and fiction.
This is the point of lying in politics – the traducers’ political lies have always been used to make it difficult for people to trust themselves or make informed opinions based on fact. In weakening our ability to rely on our own mental faculties we are forced to rely on the judgments of others. At the same time, when 2023 general election is fast approaching, lying in politics also has the effect of destabilizing political institutions by destroying the ability of citizens to trust the incumbent administration and hold them accountable.
We need factual truth in order to safeguard innocent people of Kwara and humanity – like the knowledge of doctors who can help stop the spread of Covid-19. And we need to be able to take some of these factual truths for granted so that we can share the world in common and move freely through our daily lives. But today uncertainty is fueled by self-doubt and fear of self-contradiction. When we can no longer trust ourselves we lose our common sense – our sixth sense – which is what allows us to co-exist.
Governor Abdulrazaq believes in leading Kwarans on truth without adding political colouration. Yet, different from the obtainable realities of the past, that truth and politics have never been on good terms, we still hope that truth will save us. It’s a desperate cry and a plea for recognition – it is the sound of a democracy in mourning
It’s important to remember that what most worried me is a form of political propaganda that uses lies to erode reality. The traducers would resort to having political power that will always sacrifice factual truth for political gain. Unfortunately, the side effect of the lies and the propaganda is the destruction of the sense by which we can orient ourselves in the state; it is the loss of both the commons and of common sense.