It may not be an exaggeration to say that leaders who don’t perform very well know the psychology of closing people’s mouths. This is a dangerous political social construct. This is prevalent in third world and some countries where those in power are inadequate in performance. It may be visible in Nigeria or Africa. In overseas it may be nicely packaged without public notice. Politics of closing people’s mouth can be through intimidation, coercion or through financial settlements. We witness a lot of it in Nigeria. It has become a culture or tradition in Nigerian society. Many people who play the cards of closing people’s mouths have become rich and they play it well.
This is very rampant in Nigerian politics today where there are many people who have become so conservative with truth in the face of non performing government due to political settlements either with a political appointment or mouthwatering contracts. If their mouths are not closed politically due to the benefits they are getting, they can start speaking from both sides of their mouths to affirm fake political party loyalty. One young man claiming to represent the Nigerian youth through an arm called DYON in the Sun Newspaper of September 24, painted a very rosy picture of what would come and what has been happening in the country with a list of achievements of this present government.
Some youths around read and received what he said with skeptical smiles. Some wondered if he has been “settled” because his language is a language of a settled man in a midst of lack. Is this esoteric political doctrine believable? Oh come on! Maybe he has never experienced what others have been experiencing. This is what is setting Nigeria backwards. It has become a big business in Nigeria as a matter of survival. Though it is dirty, but they play it well. The politics of closing people’s mouth has turned saints into devils and made many wonder how they quickly became chameleons on entering into politics. In their subtle defense of anomalies one can clearly discover that their stands are highly influenced by a “political settlement”.
A politician also can cause a scandal and enter into this business and close people’s mouths by donating fabulous amounts to stop being exposed to the public. King David after sleeping with Uriah’s wife wanted to cover his abomination by granting Uriah sudden leave from the battle field to go home and be with his wife but it did not work. He tried another method which led to Uriah’s death at the battle field. The politics of closing people’s mouths is played whenever there is a big scandal. During the colonial era, many of our chiefs were given sophisticated drinks and gifts so as to shut the chiefs’ mouths when they would be exploiting the law and the people.
Big companies also donate great gifts to authorities in power to allow them to do businesses that would not be very favourable to Nigerians. A clear example is the operations of the South African owned companies in Nigeria namely MTN and Multichoice (Owners of GoTv and DSTV). Despite their exploitative charges and poor services some people in power kept quiet because they are partners in exploitation as certain kickbacks go to them. What is stopping the Ajaokuta steel mill from being completed? It was suspected that Some Nigerians received money and there was a big divide in opinion. The white man understands the psychology of the black man and they play on it well. This has been a setback in Nigeria and other third world countries by receiving from the white man and shutting their mouths on issues affecting the development of their people.
If Mandela had no sense of himself, the white South Africans would have bought him over and South Africa wouldn’t have been liberated. The politics of closing mouth has been before Adam. Moses could have become a member of Pharaoh’s royal family thereby losing the leadership of his people. His resistance helped to liberate his people. The same thing happened with John the Baptist. The woman asked for his head though not for money but to shut his mouth from speaking the truth. Jezebel wanted to close Naboth’s mouth through Judicial Murder after her Husband; King Ahab coveted his land. In Politics of dynasty, the Gladiators play the game of “shut up your mouth” by intimidating them to renounce their positions when they fail to be “good boys” to their godfathers.
Politics of Closing people’s mouths is prevalent in this era of “me too” controversies. They use their past liaison to blackmail their powerful masters. This is very visible in Bill Cosby’s case and others. Inspite of his wealth and popularity, ‘me too” movement closed his mouth for other things that could have helped him to defend himself. The “Me too” movement accusers extinguished his power and closed his mouth just like that. It closed his mouth to accept the consequences of the inevitable pressures caused by racism and greed. The “bottom” politics makes many powerful people to close their mouths for fear of being fished out.
They tried it on Donald Trump to suppress his power and close his mouth but it was to no avail. Many writers and social critics have been bribed with attractive posts to shut up their mouths and write things favourable to the Government. Some fell while those who are patriotic continued to write and speak. In a world of materialism where inducement is rampant, money can be used in quieting the powerful and people of low economic background. Those in power know the weakness of their people. They can use money to make them become “yes people” and not to think of defending themselves.
That is the world in which we are today. While others are clamouring for re-structuring, some politically settled people go around listing fictitious achievements of the government making them to believe that everyone likes their performance.This is an evidence of a man whose mouth has been closed after receiving his own largesse. As for meoo, nobody can close my mouthoo at the expense of my fellow Nigerians who suffer like me. •Very Rev.Msgr. LivinusUkah is a Catholic Priest, Author of many books and a Social Justice and Peace Advocate.