SOCIAL INEQUALITY: NIGERIA’S MOST EVIDENT SYMPTOM OF FAILURE
‘’DID YOU KNOW THAT EVERY MINUTE, SIX NIGERIANS BECOME EXTREMELY POOR’’
I still vividly remember how shocked I was after I read the above fact published by the World Poverty Clock early this year. The rest of the report were just as damning, the report further stated that Nigeria now had the highest number of poor people in the world. I remember my brother, with whom I read the report, ferociously contesting it, “I wonder where these stats people get what they publish from, did they go to every household in Nigeria to ascertain if we are poor or not? There is money in this country’’, Habib remarked. “Go to Instagram and see money, People dey lavish, the latest designer wears are being purchased, the grandest of parties are being thrown in this country, don’t be fooled bro. I was in Ikoyi last week and I saw a Lamborghinni Veneno, that car is worth close to two billion Naira. How many Americans can afford that”, He added rather ignorantly, his mouth making an awkward gape.
I responsed, “Habib how many citiesin Nigeria have you been to? Nigeria does not start with Lagos and end with Abuja; Mud houses are still littered all over Nigeria. Think of this, The minimum wage in this country is N18,000, how do you think a father, with his wife and four children can survive with that, and despite this dire situation these people are still being owed several backlogs of salaries?, it seemed to convince my brother for he then quipped ‘’Hmm, I guess Nigeria is like the proverbial lipstick on a pig’’……
In 2017, Oxfam International, an organization monitoring global social welfare, claimed that the combined wealth of the five richest people in Nigeria could end poverty in the entire nation. Of all the nations in the world, Nigeria is probably the best country to serve as a model in illustrating the 95/5 problem. In Nigeria, its probably 99/1, as 1% of the nation’s population seem to control 99% of her resources while the remaining 1% jostle for the rest.
Social and economic inequality in Nigeria is one of the worst in the world, but our problems are pretty well known. Like the reknowed playwright, Chinua Achebe wrote in his book, The Problem With Nigeria, “Nothing is wrong with the Nigerian air, soil or climate, the problem with Nigeria is squarely a failure in leadership’’. A failure in leadership and, I’d like to add, the docility of our so-called intellects. The Nigerian masses are largely un-, poorly educated and ignorant, it is therefore difficult to blame them for not holding their leaders accountable, Many do not even know who their state governor is, I vividly remember my University roommate not knowing who the senator representing his zone was, ‘How is that my business’, he said with a grin.
A man’s ideas are limited by his knowledge, that’s why a villager in hot Congo wouldn’t think of making an Eskimo winter coat. So why would the average, largely ignorant Nigerian worry about holding his leaders accountable, he is out in the streets trying to earn a living, legally or illegally. And with our intellects either massively exiting the country, the rest being gradually absorbed by the country’s mediocrity, I guess the story of the Nigerian citizen would for a long time remain like Fela famously said over 30 years ago ‘Suffering and Smilling”.