Saturday, December 5, 2020



A nation in denial

A nation in denial
November 20
12:15 2020

The Ostrich appears to have been inadvertently overlooked or cheated of its deserved place as one of the emblems of Nigeria’s official symbol. This is because there is a striking similarity between the Ostrich and the Nigerian rulership clan – the habit of living in denial.


The practice of denial has become the art and science of incident reporting by governmental leaders and officials in Nigeria. The habit of denial is really not a new practice in Nigeria to state the obvious, it is only that it is fast becoming a statecraft now than ever. With every passing day that embraces one of Nigeria’s numerous needless calamities or the other, government’s spokes people weave webs of lies, half truths or doctored accounts of actual realities to try and justify the apparent continuous failure of leadership in the country or reveal the distaste for truth and accountability by Nigeria’s people of power.

On Sunday 15th October, the depressing information and videos about another kidnapping incident along Abuja – Kaduna expressway took over the social media space.

It was alleged by many eye reporters that the kidnappers struck four different times on that faithful day. Eye witness accounts further reported that around fifteen people were murdered in cold blood by the kidnappers while eight students of Ahmadu Bello University were alleged to have been kidnapped. Official government statement denied that report and put the number of people killed at ‘only’ two.


For over forty-eight hours after the infamous black Tuesday’s Lekki Toll gate shooting of 20th October 2020, the identity of the men captured on camera shooting at harmless protesters was a cocktail of denial. The army authority’s initial statement claimed that the soldiers who carried out the dastardly act were not members of the Nigerian Army personnel.

When the strength of that official claim expired without holding waters, the next scene of denial brought to the fore was on the type of bullets used and whether the army shot at the protesters or into the sky. The army insisted the shots by their men were not fired at protesters. As that denial was finding it difficult to gain currency, the denial of the issue of fatalities and casualties took over and the the ping pong of denials and counter denials went on and on. Who ordered the army out that night is still an issue of denial and counter denial. The truth for now, only God knows.

With a sober face which propelled deep compassion, Governor Babajide Sanwoolu through his national broadcast on Wednesday 21st October 2020 revealed how his entourage’s visit to many hospitals and the mortuaries showed that none of the protesters in Lekki toll gate was killed that night. Nearly a month later, one of the agencies of Lagos State government put out public announcement urging members of the public whose family members went missing between 19th to 23rd October 2020 to come forward and claim their corpses. Does this not reveal the truth behind the cloud of the black Tuesday? Does it not show how addicted to living in denial our government across board has become?


The Cable News Network (CNN) presented a carefully packaged report of the Lekki Toll gate shootings on Tuesday 20th October events to the world on Wednesday November 18th 2020 to allow the world see what happened and assess the veracity of Nigeria’s official position. Within hours of CNN’s report, Nigeria switched on the ever ready denial machinery. Alhaji Lai Muhammed, Nigeria Government’s mouthpiece came out forcefully to declare the report as untrue. His decision to read a written statement as is the style in Nigeria and his failure to use visuals and scientific method to back his case might prove to be a huge weakness in their effort to refute the compelling reportage and present CNN and the report to the world as a lie. CNN ignored Nigeria’s threat of sanction and released a statement that the news medium stands by its story thus putting the burden of proof on the shoulders of Nigeria’s leaders.

The strategy of denial embraced as a leadership style in Nigeria is one of the many viruses killing Nigeria rapidly. While our president is busy relying on the false assurances by his security chiefs that the nation’s internal security is getting better by day, dozens of Nigerians are kidnapped daily as they travel through Nigeria’s roads of agony. These incidents of kidnappings across the country debunk the claim that President Buhari has delivered on his promise to fix insecurity. Many of this kidnapped Nigerians are killed in the kidnappers’ hideouts because no one could afford the ransoms placed on their heads. Many of those who manage to get out alive are battered emotionally and physically before being allowed to regain their freedom.

While our government and the security chiefs are living in denial, several battalions of murderous kidnappers are taking positions in jungles across Nigeria and strengthening their deployment and operational strategy.

As the denial of the security challenges facing the nation grows, the operations of Kidnappers in Nigeria have become so pervasive that there is hardly any Nigerian now who does not have a family, friend, colleague or acquaintance who has already fallen victim.


The claws of the habit of denial is draining blood daily out of the fragile life of Nigeria. There is hardly any aspect of governance in our country that living in denial has not become the norm.

The economy is in tatters and over 100 million Nigerians are finding it hard to survive while our President is holding tenaciously to the view that his economic strategy is working and on track to lifting 100 million people out of poverty.

Corruption has become so prevalent in Nigeria while our governmental actors are patting themselves on the back claiming they are winning the war. We behave as if all is well while we are all seating on bubble. The wanton looting after the #EndSars protest is a sneak preview of how bad things have become in the country. It shows how fake and unreliable the economic progress reports being rolled out by the government are.

While it is clear even to the physically impaired that Nigeria is rapidly falling apart and Nigerians are becoming more sharply divided, those benefitting from the current arrangements are regaling themselves with the lie that Nigeria’s unity is non-negotiable.


Nigeria has lost so much and continues to lose daily because of the leaders’ love for the habit of denying reality. Living a life of denial is self defeating. There is no gain in cultivating the culture of denial or nurturing the denial malady. Unfortunately, that is one of the areas Nigerian leaders, politicians and security chiefs have built expertise and gained mastery.

In Nigeria’s principle and practice of denial, the leaders are not the only actors. The followers assigned themselves leading roles as well. Expecting change from the leaders without acknowledging the decadence of character and debasement of values in our ranks and file as citizens is a master craft in the theatre of denial. Looking to God to change our country when we the people are not ready to change our ways is an exercise in denial of our duties, responsibility, self worth and sense of relevance.

Living in denial gives a false sense of satisfaction, smartness and victory. The satisfaction and victory is only temporal. The smartness is a precursor to catastrophic foolishness. The chickens will sooner or later come home to roost and the layers and layers of decay and rot coated with the paint of denial will come to the fore. There is no progress in denial. Those who embrace a life of denial take one step forward and three steps backward. Embracing the truth no matter how ugly it is and practising integrity in the true sense of it are the cure for the afflictions of denial. The Time to think and change is now.

Olanrewaju Osho is a development strategist, change architect, public affairs specialist and author. He was the candidate of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) for the FCT Senatorial Seat in the 2019 elections



No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment