This ancient story, I once heard. Some faraway twin brothers named Truth and Lie. They both stood by a river just outside of their small village bantering off. Then, Lie challenged his twin brother Truth to a race.

“There is no faster or better swimmer than me in the history of this village. Truth, I can swim faster across this river than you”, Lie said.

“What are the rules?”, Truth asked?

 Lie laid out the rules. Both of them must strip naked, and at the count of 1, 2, 3.. dive into the freezing cold water splashing and stroking to the other side and back. They both got ready and steadied their gaits. Lie, always boisterous and forward, counted to three. Trusting Truth jumped in the river, Lie laughed and lingered at the banks. He did not jump. Truth kept stroking on across the river. Lie grabbed Truth’s garments laying on the ground and strapped them on, strolling back to town. Lie stole the identity of Truth, and proudly paraded himself around town as his brother. Having won the contest that really was not, Truth returned to shore groping around for his garments. They were gone! Lie’s filthy garments laid on the ground. They were not a good fit for Truth. Truth was left naked by his brother, Lie. Truth refused to wear what was not his size and sainthood of garments.  He had no choice but to walk back to town nauseatingly naked.

While walking around town, people stared at him and asked each other, “What happened to Truth; has he gone mad?” Truth dug into his arsenal of truth attempting to explain what Lie did to him. But who would listen to Truth when he appeared like Lie? People walked away from Truth. They hated Truth. They despised Truth. To them, he is Lie. Lie became a celebrity. People followed him. A big crowd swelled around him. He became the master and Truth the slave. People chose to believe Lie because he spoke the language that was sonorous in their ears. He spoke it eloquently and masterfully. The people salivated hearing more from Lie, because in their ears, Lie is Truth. Truth returned to the rivers after his embarrassing experience in the hands of Lie and the people. Poor Truth! He made it back to the riverside. He took a final plunge. And forever, he disappeared. And ever since, Truth has disappeared from amongst us. He is not dead but Lie controls the world. Lie has more followership. Lie controls the dollar and pounds sterling. And whoever controls the money controls power. Whoever has power has it all. Lie travels around the world, dressed as the Truth. Every society loves Lie and hates Truth. This is exactly the world we live in today. All around and everywhere; Lie, who is the thief, is the chief. And Truth, who is the real deal, is in servitude. What a world.

A few years ago in Nigeria, I visited an erudite and accomplished former Nigerian politician who served in the eighth and ninth National Assembly. He was a professor at an American University close to my city until he decided to return to Nigeria, according to him, “to help clean up my country.” I was interested in serving in the hallowed chamber as a senator representing my district, and he was an appropriate person for me to rub minds with.  He knows me and my pedigree, and knew where my heart was. But he laughed when I revealed my desire to serve. He confessed he felt the same way I felt when he lived and worked in America. When he divulged what his eyes saw and ears heard serving as a lawmaker in Nigeria, my jaws dropped, and my heart sank for my country. This man is a fighter. But while he fought for the people, beasts he had to fight and those who fought him were too many and powerful. He revealed to me an earful I can’t write here. He eventually got tired and quit politics. Why? Because in politics, albeit in our daily lives in the Giant of Africa, Lie leads, and Truth lies in state.

Forty years ago, I was trained as a journalist in Nigeria by the best hands in the business. Journalists are schooled to see the warts on the world and perfections and imperfections in people and places. For many years, men and women of the fourth estate of the realm have written about the challenges Nigeria and Nigerians face. But nothing has changed regarding how many of these looting leaders conduct government business. Instead of an abating avarice, there is a swelling upgrade and uptick in decadence you see and feel everywhere and every day. Very many Nigerians I know are tired of writing or speaking about troubles besieging Nigeria. They are sick and tired of reading and discussing looters and liars in government.

Some budgeted projects that were scheduled to be completed in five years are still uncompleted in 20. Allocated funds find their way under somebody’s Agbada and Babariga in their private bedrooms. These have gone on for aeons. The government looks like a deliberate scam cooked up and orchestrated in a mafia’s bunker against the people. Corruption has heisted what should have been our fallback comfort cushion. Our debacle didn’t start today. Over decades we write, yet nothing is right. It is both inhuman and immoral to have so much poverty and hunger in a flourishing and fertile nation like Nigeria. Loudmouths who claim to be patriots only do so when they have access to feeding fat from the proceeds of crude oil. When access to resources is egressed, professed love vanishes. Although lives of a vast horde of our people seem cursed, Nigeria remains a blessed nation even as Lies lead and Truth lies in state.

Because of the gawky and gaucherie end-products, Lie in power and authority across the political spectrum has unleashed, millions of Nigerians are on the brink of giving up hope on their own nation. But they have nowhere to go.  If Nigeria’s past was messy, her present messier, what about her future? Can we hope for the best with Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope even as Lie leads and Truth lies in state? Does it make sense to look forward to a Renewed Hope where many men and women who lack integrity are in command and control of the leadership of some strategic agencies and parastatals? Integrity is the strength and firmness of character, utter sincerity, honesty, and a state of being undivided. It is the state of the human mind which is not corrupt or soiled with negative attributes and which produces fruits of faithfulness. It is an attribute that is constant and does not change because of the situation. It is also a virtue which is built in mankind from where sincerity and honesty are its end products. The person who carries integrity has a unity of life and character. Unfortunately, in the motherland, integrity has been consigned into the trash bin of existence because Lie leads, and Truth is lying in state. Where do you find virtue today? What cadre of leadership does it liberally dwell among us? I will not quit hoping that with Renewed Hope, the tide will turn soon.