Nigeria: Blessed For A Few, Cursed For Many

By Isaac Asabor
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There is no denying the fact that given the wide chasm in Nigeria socio-economic divide, particularly between the ruling class and the masses that Nigeria can aptly be described to be a nation of stark contrasts. This is as despite its vast oil reserves and rich cultural tapestry that paints a picture of a land of potential and prosperity, only a select few seems to be eating the nation’s proverbial national cake, while the majority of the people grapple with the harsh realities of poverty and deprivation.

Given the paradox of plenty that characterizes Nigeria’s social economic situation, a glimpse into the prevailing socio-economic divide shows that not a few members of the ruling class, or rather the political elites have been blessed so much that even the sponsorships of their education right from primary schools to the universitieswere at the expense of the government, and not a few of them, upon graduation, started their careers either as civil servants in the ministries or as military officers, and again upon retirement, joined politics, and since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, this category of Nigerians have been greedily eating the Nigeria’s proverbial national cake or rather commonwealth while other Nigerians are by each passing day struggling to survive as if they are cursed in the same country where virtually every expenses spent by the so-called elites or ruling class are settled at governments’ expense.

It will be recalled in this context that Nigeria, once referred to as the "Giant of Africa," is unarguably a nation endowed with abundant natural resources, particularly oil, which has the potential to drive significant economic growth and development. Nevertheless, the country is marred by a stark socio-economic divide, with a small fraction of the population reaping the benefits of the nation's riches, while the majority struggle to meet basic needs.

In Nigeria, the ruling class, comprised of political elites, high-ranking officials, and their affiliates, often enjoy a lifestyle of opulence. Funded by government coffers and the lucrative proceeds from oil, these individuals have access to the nation's wealth, which they use to maintain their lavish lifestyles. This includes luxury homes, expensive cars, and education in prestigious international institutions, all of which are out of reach for the average Nigerians.

Contrastingly, the masses face a daily battle for survival. Despite the country's oil wealth, many Nigerians live below the poverty line, lacking access to clean water, healthcare, and education. The unemployment rate is high, and those with jobs often work in precarious conditions with meager pay. The wealth gap is not only a reflection of economic disparity but also of the unequal distribution of opportunities.

Ostensibly worsening the situation is the unprecedented rate at which the ruling class and the elites are allegedly getting involved in corrupt practices, from one political dispensation to the other, and this retrogressive doing which has seemingly become the norm among those that are privileged to be in public service or in politics seems to have become the norm. Without sounding exaggerative in this context, the retrogressive practice that is common among the ruling class, and not a few high ranking civil servants is unarguably exacerbating the socio-economic divide in Nigeria by each passing day. Funds that could be used for public services and infrastructure development are often siphoned off by them. This mismanagement of resources results in a lack of investment in sectors that could benefit the entire population, such as education, healthcare, and agriculture.

In fact, the socio-economic gap in Nigeria is a complex issue that is rooted in historical, political, and social factors. While the country is blessed with resources, the benefits are not felt all Nigerians. Given the foregoing awkward situation, it is germane to opine in this context that for Nigeria to truly prosper, it is imperative that the government implements policies that promote equitable distribution of wealth, transparency, and accountability. Only then can the nation move towards a future where the prosperity is shared, and the masses can rise above the struggle to survive.

In fact, against the backdrop of the foregoing overview of the socio-economic disparities in Nigeria, there is an urgent need for systemic change to bridge the gap between the ruling class and the masses. It is a call to action for leaders and citizens alike to work towards a more inclusive and equitable society. The reason for this advocacy cannot be farfetched as it seems Nigeria is blessed for a few people, while it is cursed for many.

Without any iota of exaggeration, it is not out of place to opine that the socio-economic gap in Nigeria is a complex issue rooted in historical, political, and social factors. While the country is blessed with resources, the benefits are not felt by all its citizens. Therefore, for Nigeria to truly prosper, it is imperative that the government implements policies that promote equitable distribution of wealth, transparency, and accountability. Only then can the nation move towards a future where the prosperity is shared, and the masses can rise above the struggle to survive.

In fact, there is an urgent need for the incumbent government under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to initiate and implement a policy aimed at equal distribution of wealth as it is crucial to bridging the socio-economic divide between the general populace and the few ruling class and political elite. Such a policy would involve several strategic steps that would cut across progressive taxation, social welfare programs, economic diversification, anti-corruption measures,

For instance, a progressive tax system could be established where the wealthy pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes. This would ensure that those who benefit the most from the economy contribute their fair share towards national development.

In a similar vein, investment in social welfare programs that provide support to the less privileged is essential. These could include unemployment benefits, healthcare subsidies, and educational grants, which would help level the playing field.

Also in a similar vein is the need of pragmatically reducing reliance on oil by diversifying the economy as it can create more job opportunities in other sectors. This would spread the wealth more evenly across different industries and regions. Government should do this, not on newspapers, but to be seen to have being from all ramifications of its practicality.

Worthy of mentioning at this juncture is that it seems the anti-corruption measures already put in place in the establishment of the ICPC and EFCC by the government is not working, and therefore more efforts should be made on this by the government as doing that will no doubt prevent the misappropriation of government funds, deepens transparency and accountability in government spending, and also ensure that resources are used for the public good.

Another area for the government to take step toward, is for it to ensure equal access to quality education as doing that would empower more Nigerians to improve their socio-economic status. The reason why government should take this step is that education is a powerful tool for social mobility and must be accessible to all.

In a similar vein, the government should in its efforts toward a better Nigeria implement fair employment practices and labor laws that would protect workers from exploitation and ensure they receive fair wages. This would contribute to a more equitable distribution of income.

Also, investing in infrastructure, such as roads, electricity, and water supply, can improve living standards and stimulate economic growth in underdeveloped areas, even as providing support and incentives for small businesses can stimulate local economies and offer alternatives to government reliance.

Besides, it is not an exaggeration to opine that a comprehensive policy that addresses these areas can help reduce the socio-economic disparities in Nigeria. In fact, by ensuring that wealth is more evenly distributed, not only will the quality of life improve for many, but the nation as a whole can enjoy sustainable and inclusive growth.

Given the foregoing backdrop, it is expedient to urge the ruling elites to ensure they change the realities that makes Nigeria looks as if it is blessed for a few, and cursed for many.

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