RICH DADS AND POOR KIDS OF NIGERIA
By Emmanuel Onwubiko
If you ever nursed any doubts that Nigeria is a perfect metaphor then perish that thought if you are among the audience that watched as the Nigerian President made a laughing stock of Nigeria with his year 2014 Workers' Day speech at the heavily fortified Eagle square in Abuja. President Goodluck Jonathan, on that Thursday, faulted the World Bank report which placed Nigeria among the five poorest countries in the world, saying “the nation is not poor”.
Do you wish to smile or explode with angst at this allegory graphically depicted by the Nigerian President? Wait a while as I bring you further components of this strange theory of the political leader of the largest black nation and the World's most dysfunctional nation state.
Cheered on by some sycophants who parade around as labour union leaders, the president advanced the illogical affirmation thus; “the challenge of the country is not poverty, but redistribution of wealth.”
President Jonathan whose adopted daughter recently got wedded and reportedly received choice exotic automobiles from business associates of her father said that the realities on ground did not portray the country as a poor nation, but a nation which abundant wealth needed to be evenly redistributed.
Mr. President just committed the fallacy of hasty conclusion given the indices he relied on to draw his conclusion.
You know what? Mr. President, yes, Nigeria is a perfect metaphor of a rich dad [ political office holders] whose children [ordinary citizens]are so poor that they may die off any time soon.
If you, our rich President has spoken as clearly as you have done then we will believe you that Nigeria is a rich nation but only to the factual extent that Nigeria is indeed a rich country whose populations are mostly poor due largely to the corrupt tendencies of her thieving elites.
Please Sir do not presume that because your daughter only recently got phenomenal amount of gifts during her wedding that this nation is rich. Nor are you judging from the fact that the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar took his young son and his American lover to Dubai whereby they had one f the best wedding that money can buy to now presume that Nigerians are rich. The fact is that those who showered gifts and cash to the adopted daughter of the Nigerian President only did that for selfish reasons since they have only invested their capital with the expectation that surely they will bag huge contracts.
But come to think of it, the President did not actually mean that because his daughter got lavish gifts that Nigeria is therefore a rich country. No, he rather used the number of private jets acquired by elites to arrive at that grotesque conclusion that Nigeria is such a rich country. But Mr. President failed to tell Nigerians how these few rich guys got the money in the first instance to buy up these exotic jets. Most of these jets' owners have liquidated the banks in Nigeria with their bad debts that they refused to pay back thereby forcing this same government to set up Assets Management Corporation [AMCON] to buy back these bad debts.
Hear him; “Nigeria is not a poor country. Nigerians are the most travelled people. There is no country you go that you will not see Nigerians. The GDP of Nigeria is over half a trillion dollars and the economy is growing at close to 7 percent.”
“Aliko Dangote was recently classified among the 25 richest people in the world”.
But here is the illogicality, If Aliko Dangote is ranked as one of the twenty fifth richest persons in the World, does that take away the factual reality that ten million or more Children of school age are out of school and are indeed in the harsh streets of Nigeria hungry, homeless and helpless? Does the fact that Nigeria is an oasis of just one Aliko Dangote who has joined the obscenely rich club globally that the millions of jobless youth in Nigeria have ceased to exist? Was it not only few weeks back that about twenty four job seeking Nigerian youth perished while struggling to attend the poorly conducted recruitment exercises into the Nigerian Immigration Service?
President Jonathan indeed believes that Nigeria is so rich because according to him; “I visited Kenya recently on a state visit and there was a programme for Nigerians and Kenyan business men to interact and the number of private jets that landed in Nairobi that day was a subject of discussion in Kenyan media for over a week”.
“If you talk about ownership of private jets, Nigeria will be among the first 10 countries, yet they are saying that Nigeria is among the five poorest countries”, so says President Jonathan. Here again is the flaws of this kind of thinking. Assuming that Nigerian elites who stole their ways into wealth have now managed to buy up private jets, it only goes to show one thing: Nigeria is a failed state whereby basic amenities of road infrastructure has failed and aviation safety is not guaranteed on commercial airlines thereby forcing these corrupt elites to buy exotic private jets for self preservation.
Again, majority of these jets buying elites are in the black books of most banks as bad debtors who have perpetually failed to fulfill their obligation of paying back their huge debts. Because of these criminal tendencies of these elites, banks have had to go distress therefore forcing government to set up the Assets management Corporation to buy back these bad debts. So how does these jets in private hands of a few elites contribute to national wealth?
President Jonathan introduced another dramatic dimension of this illogicality by saying that there is a quantity of cash that a rich Nigerian may offer a poor Nigerian and that beneficiary will not be magnanimous to commend the donor.
I have this shocking news for Mr. President by letting him know that the part of Imo state where I come from, the poorest of the poor who are in the clearest majority will appreciate the smallest amount of money in Nigerian currency that any donor can give them. I am available within the shortest notice to give Mr. President the details of these poor people in Onu-imo Local Government Area Council of Imo state that are actually generous with commendation for any small act of charity extended to them and these people are ready to shower Mr. President with basket full of thanksgiving if God directs him to extend some of his goodies.
This is what President Jonathan wants us to believe. His words; “Some of you will experience that there is an amount of money you will give to a Nigerian who needs help and will not even regard it and thank you but if you travel to other countries and give such an amount, the person will celebrate”.
The source of this Presidential anger is the World Bank that dared to tell us the truth that is already as naked as a newly born infant that Nigeria is such a poor nation that harbours the third largest number of poor people in the World.
Angry with the World Bank, President Jonathan told his audience that; “But the World Bank statistics shows that Nigeria is among the five poorest countries. Our problem is not poverty, our problem is redistribution of wealth.”
So Mr. President has not moved around the streets of Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital or Douglas Road in Owerri, the Imo state Capital or indeed one of the streets in Kano state disguised as a commoner to see for himself the large populations of the poorest of the poor who can not even afford the one square meal that is used as a yardstick for classifying people as poor or extremely poor? To use the 'probability' word to assert that wealth is not equitably redistributed in Nigeria is to put it mildly offensive and odious.
But the Nigerian leader used that word when he added that “probably, wealth is concentrated in very few hands and a number of people do not have access to it and that is why my administration is committed in terms of financial inclusiveness and we are working very hard to achieve this.”
Speaking apriori, I will narrate an experience I had recently when I travelled home to Imo state during the Easter period. I met twelve different young persons who came visiting me in my little village home. These persons came individually with baggage of existential circumstances that they had high hopes that as someone staying in Abuja, the Nigeria political capital city, I should be in a position to assist them solve them. The pretty part of what most of these twelve young persons all of them with good grades from their university degree examinations, could be summed up in just seeking for me to give each of them the equivalence of two hundred USD to enable each of them settle some basic hospital and other essential bills.
In the same vein, If you move around the major streets of Lagos or Maiduguri in Borno state, you will surely be confronted by the overwhelming presence of large number of young persons learned or unlearned, who are in dire needs of basic essentials to survive.
Frida Ghita writing an opinion piece in the Cable News Network stated the obvious when the following was stated; ” Nigeria is a resource rich nation whose people live in grinding poverty. It is also plagued with endemic corruption. That triple combination-poverty, corruption and resource wealth- creates fertile ground for strife and extremism”.
This is precisely what Nigeria is…A nation with a rich Dad but with very poor Kids.
+Emmanuel Onwubiko; Head; Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria [email protected]; Human Rights Writers's Association of Nigeria – Home
Human Rights Writers's Association of Nigeria – Home
Huriwa, Human Rights Writers' Assocation of Nigeria, Human Rights Nigeria.