Daily, I pore and ponder: What could have been that prodigious demonic bludgeon that may have beaten up Nigeria into its present valetudinarian nation? How did Nigeria get so sickly with sickening testaments?
How and when does she take her proper glorious position in the world? At independence, Nigeria’s population was 45.2 million, with a GDP of US$4.2bn. Our neighbour, Ghana, had a population of 6.65m and a GDP of US$1.22bn. For Nigeria, life expectancy in 1960 was 37.2 years, while Ghana was 45.8 years and Ethiopia was 38.4 years.
Furthermore, The GNI/per capita for Nigeria was US$100, while Ghana was US$190. By 1981, Nigeria’s GDP was US$61.7bn while Ethiopia was US$7.325bn. By 1984, Nigeria’s GNI/per capita was more than double that of Ethiopia. No one doubts the vast riches of Nigeria. But it is still a question in the hearts and minds of many why poverty is not waning; but the plague is gathering more strength. Readers, Nigeria is sitting on landmines.
Meanwhile When the problems persist unsolved and misery pervades unhindered; when pain daily gathers stronger momentum than pleasure among the citizenry and there is wailing everywhere and every time without a recourse, it is time to revisit the drawing board.
Furthermore, Our soil retains one of the world’s biggest deposits of natural treasures, but the hands of many of her leaders are soiled with corruption; and hearts seared with insensitivity to the plight of the people. If the souls of captains of political platoons are riled up in treacherous behaviours against their own country, the system they oversee will only be rewarded with a crown of thorns. How do we collectively confront Nigeria’s never-dissipating problems when men who are not ready to embrace availing and prevailing truth are sitting in thrones of authority?
According to reports, Over 90 million Nigerians are reportedly living in extreme poverty today. This must be a conservative figure based on what we know and see daily on Nigerian streets across all regions. According to the World Poverty Clock designed by Vienna-based World Date Laboratory, as of February 13, 2019, 91.16 million Nigerians lived below a dollar a day. Washington DC-based nonprofit public policy organisation, Brookings Institutions, reported that Nigeria has now overtaken India as the poverty capital of the world. The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, mused this: “Much of Nigeria is thriving, with many individuals enjoying the fruits of a resurgent economy, yet 87 million Nigerians live below $1 and 90 cents a day, making it home to more very poor people than any other nation in the world”. These are no tell-tales. They are today’s Nigeria’s tales of woe.
Publicly highlighting extant ravaging hunger and poverty in the land is not a deliberate attempt at political campaign of calumny against any government. The above statistics show that the giant of Africa is sitting on landmines. It has been sucked up into booby-traps. Hunger and poverty in Nigeria are real, not imagined. They are tattooed on gaunt faces of family members; and on ghostly and ghastly bodies of friends walking around our mean streets. The fiery intensity of poverty has spiked up the level of insecurity and provoked other debaucheries. The acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, revealed in a recent press conference that 1,071 Nigerians were killed in heinous crimes, and 685 kidnapped in the first quarter of 2019. Killings here, kidnappings there; have we run out of resolving ideas to end these horrors?
The rich in Nigeria are now afraid of brutal kidnappers lying in wait for them on Nigerian raggedy roads. They are afraid of being subjected to grim treatments in the hands of mean and jobless Nigerians (or stray-dog foreigners from Niger or Chad) thirsty for blood and hungry for gold. They are terrified by the possibility of being sucked up into the dragnets of kidnappers and robbers. NOW, big men with big jeeps are reportedly sighted at train stations choosing to stand or sit in an overcrowded train heading to their destinations because trips via railroad tracks are deemed safer- at least for now. When poverty rages and razes a land like nuclear warfare, both the prosperous and the pauper, the affluent and the destitute will end up as casualties. That is the situation report now in a land we love. To the rich and corrupt elite in past and present governments who jointly and severally created Nigeria’s present harrowing problems, may your sleep never be sweet!
For how long do we drench the Nigerian terrain with sermonettes of patience and sacrifice as despair refuses to expire? How long do we preach hope as desperation to escape hopelessness and irremediability grow stronger wings? The country is sitting on landmines which are about to explode into something we may not be able to describe. China lifted more than 800 million people out of poverty. This accounted for about half of the global extreme poverty statistics of over a billion people. How did the Chinese do it? Aside from massive spending on infrastructure and technological innovations, China put a big focus on agriculture. In 1978, China’s leader Deng Xiaoping placed a focus first on improving his nation’s dismal agricultural growth urging Chinese a return to family farming. Gains that followed were in agricultural incomes and savings that helped to provide funding for the industrial and urbanisation coming next. China says it aims to wipe out poverty by 2020. The ruling party vows to build a “moderately prosperous society” ahead of the 100th anniversary of its founding. Between 1994 and 2000, some 26,100 miles (42,000 kilometres)-about 746 miles (1200km) per day of rural highways were built a year. Massive employment was created for the unemployed. Nigeria can and must do the same if not more. Our geographical space from North to the South stretching to the West through the East remains an island of wealth, a topography and trough of tintinnabulating treasures, a penstock of prosperousness, a depository of abundant and abounding natural resources, and a geomorphology of concealed precious gems.
In Nigeria, there is plenteous balm in Gilead, and the health of the nation and its citizens can and must recover. Ordinary Nigerians aren’t asking for too much from those who lead them. Not every Nigerian wants to drive a jeep or build a mansion. Not every Nigerian is driven by a morbid ambition of fat bank accounts. They want food on their table and a safe place to build a family. That’s all. This is not too much to ask for in a country that has more than enough. My friends, if poverty does not die quick, the rich and affluent in Nigeria may have murdered sleep. Something ominous is looming; I just don’t know what. Until poverty dies, prostitution, kidnapping, killing, maiming, and many other vices ravaging the nation will continue to live. When the poor and hungry no longer have food to eat, they will begin to corner up the rich, break down their high fences, tear down their barricades, plough through their securities, and begin to cook them all up for lunch and dinner. May our eyes never see the season.
Posted by Jeff