Nigeria, Rich Country, Poor People By Gbenga Ogunbiyi
Nigeria is a wonderful place to be, blessed with rich mineral resources and endowed with fertile soil. This made me remember my JSSII days. Something tells me you are already calculating my age range, yes I caught you.
It use to be a lengthy but interesting subject; where my social studies teacher Mrs Osanyintile, oh I can’t believe I recall her name perfectly well. In the late 1990’s she fed us with the lecture about how milk and honey flow in the blessed land of Nigeria. Then I was young, passionate, patriotic with goose bumps all over me and a desire to register Nigeria’s map on the moon.
Many years after reality dawn on me. I just couldn’t figure out how blessed and rich Nigeria is. Am I dreaming? I had better wake up from my slumber or could the riches have been on paper? Or did the government initiate the educational system to pressurize my teacher in brainwashing my young and innocent brain?
This is exactly what is ruminating in the stomach of millions of Nigerian youth, mocked as the leaders of tomorrow. It is even worse if you are from the absolute poor class, which represent about 60.5% of the total population as of the last time I checked.
This leads to the two kinds of people living in Nigeria. Yes, there are two kinds of persons living in Nigeria
1. The poor
2. The rich
(The tales of two citizens of a country).
The first class represents the majority of the Nigerian people, where they feed from hand to mouth. Oh, yes you are claiming to belong to the middle class? Hell no! The political class would not allow the middle class stay, maybe outside the shores.
Workers toil day and night, sweat, give in their best but would later be frustrated by the predefined system of failure called the Nigerian system. “The Nigerian brand is a very bad brand. The cost to the country socially, historically and economically is horrendous”, quoting Leke Alder during the 3rd Bola Tinubu colloquium. You will understand better if you do business with the outside world. When our youth cannot even purchase goods on Amazon and Ebay, our infoprenuers and self-publishers cannot even use a Nigerian bank to verify their online accounts, our businessmen cannot transact using a PayPal account because we have been delisted and none of our banking cards can be used for international transactions online.
A bond of £3000 has been placed on anybody travelling outside the shore of this country to the UK, oh! What an ignominy. Outside there on sight of the Nigerian passport it becomes a sin. Then if that so be, all Nigerians are sinners. If our passport could be so ridiculed for a third degree scrutiny, then it speaks volume of our image to the international community.
Say you are a Nigerian outside our borders then you begin to send signals of someone that sends a mail congratulating the recipient for winning an incredible but bogus amount of money, locked up in an invisible box somewhere that can only be redeemed by paying a little but incessant fee as tax and duty to process the claim to the treasure of life.
I recalled Omoyele Sowore, the founder of our own type of Wikileaks “The Sahara Reporters” said something similar to this while addressing the audience at “The Personal Democracy Forum 2011, Agent of Change” at the Silicon Valley, UK.
The other class is the microscopic few (in Hon. Patrick Obahiaghon’s tone) but mighty class. This class could be likened to the fertile males called “drones” and more fertile females “queens” from the ant colonies.
The colonies sometimes are described as super organisms. Ants are social insects of the family Formicidae. The royal ants (the fertile ones) are born to be served and worshipped by the working ants because they form the larger colonies. They consist mostly of sterile wingless females forming castes of workers, soldiers, or other specialized groups according to Wikipedia.
This class lives in affluence, spend lavishly and can never be short of encomium because the other class are readily available to lavish it on them. Their wards (prince and princess) live in opulence; have never worked in their life, graduated from top ivy-league college of choice, all thanks to the tax payer’s money.
The poor flaunt every age definition of schooling due to financial constraint. They finish the higher institution by age 28 to 35 plus 1 additional year of NYSC. After all the efforts, the recruiters fix the age limit for employment at 24yrs. While the rich kids’ life is so programmed that after graduating from school, (at the normal age of according to the dictionary if you know what I mean) rule over the working ants with ease, with no resistance by the poor.
But do you blame them? It is possible for the rich to step into the corridor of power because of the absence of opposition.
Can a helpless man give any resistance? This can be best answered by the popular Yoruba saying “ti owo eni oba ti te eku ida, akole bere iku to pa baba eni”. Meaning,”you can’t question someone that has got power, money and also greater than you are”. I know the Yorubas are already scrutinizing my translation, please take it that way or else you can contact me.
Nigeria lacks visionary leaders, hence the result we are getting. Certain men came together to create a place called America. They got independence 1776 and at the declaration of independence the American dream was stated and well defined.
I can never recall any scenario where our leaders came together to chart the course of the Nigerian state except the sharing of the excess crude oil revenue. Nothing like the Nigerian dream, not in this world. My innocent brain has been severely battered by the scene of atrocities, act of nepotism, corruption, civil unrest and our ailing economy. I think I need a doctor to relieve me from the traumatic effect of the long list of the Nigerian problems. Do we really have one? When our so called leaders fly abroad when their heads ache.
Taking nothing away from our medical experts, some even perform well but not in a dilapidated system like ours. I recalled a Nigerian winning the prestigious American doctor of the year some months back with Obama’s blessing.
What is wrong with the Nigerian brand? Why are we gaining position on the list of corrupt nations? Why are we leading the list of countries with bad leadership? Why are we topping in the poor health system list? Why are we labelled as a terrorist nation? These are few of the myriads of questions begging for answers
Why do we lack creativity? Why can’t government reward research, knowledge and innovation? Why is there no reality shows for technology and science? Why is our TV flooded with reality show for fashion and entertainment only, and our pay TV for live shows of young Africans camped for months with no fruitful course other than immoralities? Why are we always a dumping ground for other countries?
In Leke Alder’s voice quoting D.O. Fagunwa “Forest of a Thousand Daemons” translated by the white head Prof. Wole Soyinka “We have perfected the ability to run a machine called government without recast, the yawning, and sorrow of the people. There is a huge dissonant gap between the government and the people. The dissonant gap is the reasons why we declare economic growth statistic that have no correlation with existential realities. The people cannot feel the percentages in their pocket neither do they understand statistics”
Our government keeps preparing a huge budget with little or no compliance. How can the people understand the arrangement of figures and budgetary term in row and column with an empty stomach?
Lack of visionary and capable leadership, failure of government policy, crimes, kidnapping, erratic power supply, drug and human trafficking, bombing, terror, civil unrests, failure of the rule of law, institutional corruption of interface agencies, customs immigration, institutional corruption of regulation and law, systematic corruption of the tiers of government, endemic corruption in the society, failure and corruption of the electoral system, I must admit it is a long list.
In conclusion, the myriads of problems have long incapacitated the effectiveness of the Nigerian system. If the problems were to be enunciated I bet you I will list till Jesus comes. How can we solve our problems? Let us start getting things right by reshaping our thinking and mindset. Let’s move for a more independent electoral system so that it would not be the case of he who pays the piper dictates the tune, so that can we have a free and fair election and the wish of the majority can prevail. Zero-tolerance to election riggers who steals the Nigerian mandate.
All we need is visionary, bold and capable leaders that can mastermind the Nigerian dream and enforce it at all levels. That is when and only when Nigeria can move up and claim her position again in the League of Nations and boldly take up the much echoed “giant of Africa “role.
The Nigerian brand will then rise from worst to worse to bad to fair to good and the sky will be our starting point.
The expected change begins from you and me.
A graduate of Computer Science from the first Nigerian Institution, self-publisher, he is a web designer, a blogger, and has experience in the banking sector.
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