Certain people immediately come to our minds with the mention of the word fool. The first person Nigerians thought of lately is Mr. Adebayo Shittu, Nigeria's communication minister. Shittu evokes a certain sense of pity, mixed with amusement.
Recently, Omoyele Sowore, Publisher of SaharaReporters and presidential aspirant for 2019, engaged Shittu in a verbal war of wits on the radio program on Fresh FM, Ibadan. As an entertainer, the fool has always been a prime target for laughter. Indeed, through the jester in man, the riddle of his nature is revealed.
Whether dancing in the marketplace, leading the mobs, jigging on the apron stage, acting innocuously boisterous on a radio show, or just gazing vacantly into a television camera, the fool can always make his audience merry. The laughter is often kindly, occasionally sympathetic, but usually tinged with derision. It also shows a delightful feeling that lies behind our love for the fool.
Nigeria, where there's no any tidy or unified order in life, the minister for communications has made a fool a symbol of meaninglessness. He proves that he's an unenviable representative of a corrupt, inept, and a hopelessly dysfunctional nation and a moribund regime. To the students of Shakespeare's fools, Shittu's behavior, utterances, and body language offer an interesting explanation of the way in which these chameleon figures slip so easily from nonsense and fantasy into acute satirical madness. Shittu the fool as an entertainer, amuses his listeners by his tomfoolery.
Some characteristics of the fool exhibited by Shittu during the radio program. Excerpts from his responses to Sowore's statements:
As a dangerously immature, extremely gullible, and intensely ignorant fool:
Sowore: Minister it is great to see you. This is the minister of an outgoing regime; the Buhari regime will be kicked off power by 2019.
Shittu: By your wish or by God's wish? You are just dreaming. You are a daydreamer.
Sowore: By the wish of the people of Nigeria Sir. It is not a dream. It is the realization you'd wake up to on February 15.
When things go wrong for a silly fool, he becomes angry:
Shittu: Sowore, what's your electoral worth?
Sowore: My electoral worth brought you to power in 2015. Nobody even heard about many of you in 2014.
Shittu: You are inconsequential.
Sowore: I am consequential because you came to power on my back, on our back... on the back of young people who invested a lot of hope.
A fool glorifies in that which he should be ashamed:
Shittu: You think the presidency is for people like you? Go and start from being a councilor... How old are you? How old are you?
Sowore: Sir, I am 47 years old...
Shittu: This is not a platform for minions like you to come... you think the presidency is something you can just buy in a marketplace? … That's rubbish! I have been in politics since you were born. For forty years, I have been in politics... You can't be here and talk rubbish.
A fool is unreasonable:
Shittu: You are a daydreamer. Who will make you president? You will be president of your Ife... not Nigeria. Go and be president of Ife. You think it is cheap as that? We will see...”
Sowore: The Nigeria of the future is for dreamers like me.
As if Sowore was reading from the Book of Proverbs 26: 4-5 “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, lest he be wise in his own eyes.” Sowore disarmed the foolishness, cockiness, arrogance, and ignorance of Shittu with maturity, civility, respect, calmness, and blunt truth.
Shittu has demonstrated convincingly that there's a danger in appointing ministers based on cronyism, or relationships as often the case in Nigerian politics. As often, those appointees do not possess the knowledge, the capacity, the competency, and interpersonal communication skills to perform their jobs. Shittu proved that beyond any reasonable doubt.
But all is about to change... 2019 is the year we'll take Nigeria back. Let's go there!