By: Babalola Seyi
Poverty still remains significant at 33.1% in Africa’s biggest economy. For a country with massive wealth and a huge population to support commerce, a well-developed economy, and plenty of natural resources such as oil, the level of poverty remains unacceptable.
Without no doubt and sentiment faced in the country, I want to reiterate the fact that Nigeria definitely is not lacking in abundant human and material resources. Distinct to the fact that human resources with which the country is endowed is a plethora of voices. It does not matter whether such voices represent a coalition of contradictory bearings among the government. They may be consenting or dissenting, ignorant or discerning, muffled or loud; but they are a representation of the people nonetheless.
I have listened to rather intense arguments and opinion over the state of the nation in diverse places like football centers, midst of friends, barbing saloons, at bus stops or the supermarket/ newspapers trolley stand.
Inside the many restaurants dotting the city, you can hear distinctive voices of ‘patriots’ apportioning blames (over steaming bowls of pepper-soup accompanied by ice-cold lagers) for the mismanagement of the economy, or generally orchestrating how to move the country forward. Nigerians no doubt love to discuss their beleaguered nation, especially in the light of series of man-made calamities that have befallen the country in successive years.
But, whether such instances of stunning eloquence and beer parlour oratory ever translate to sincerity, or help galvanize a cross-section of the people to viable action is another issue entirely within the country.
Be that as it may, one item that conspicuously dominates conversations is the issue of poverty at home. Although it may strike one as a complex subject, yet it is expedient to discuss poverty in its broadest sense. It is equally worthwhile to engage in the analysis and efforts geared towards poverty eradication as a tool of political empowerment of poor people.
This is especially so when the question of pauperization of the larger majority is pitched against the fact of the nation’s wealth being shared among a tiny few of the privileged ruling class and their cronies.
Even though the Western nations and African countries hold differing views of poverty (in nature and magnitude), a mutual area of agreement would seem to be the key areas of poverty categorization.
Often highlighted is poverty that is hinged on financial and material definition. It is that level of ridiculous deprivation that successive bad policies and corrupt leadership have fostered on the Nigerian people.
A definitive pattern emerges here as people lack choice and could do neither what they want to do nor what they feel they should able to do. On another level and equally alarming is poverty of thought, knowledge and ideas.
Whenever we discuss Nigeria and her socio-political problems, the usual practice is to decry the level of deprivation to which the common man has been subjected due to the fall in living standards.
However, most of the time, it has turned out to be that talks bothering on this issue tend to portray discussant’s’ lack of depth of knowledge. It is a serious indictment of those who claim to understand the problems that they are often bereft of result-oriented ideas.
It becomes even more serious when you think about the profound implications which poverty of the mind tend to have for the larger majority and considering its impact on the future of Nigeria.
Poverty is ludicrous, destructive, damning and daunting. And it can be isolating. It is the crudest and most banal level to which the human can be confined. It is also a stigma that carries a host of other deplorable symptoms.
Unemployment and underemployment, wobbly economy, bad government policies, instability and other extraneous factors have all combined to seriously underpin the preponderance of poverty in Nigeria. The result has been a host of associated problems like stress, anger, depression, frustration, powerlessness and loss of self-esteem by many Nigerians.
People tense to do some illegal Jobs in the country just for them to abstain away from poverty, and this will also cause damages to the country and also to Nigerians at large.
Until poverty of ideas is reduced to its insignificant minimum, we may not get around eliminating the other more visible variants of poverty.
These can be achieved through proper thought of ideas are accentuated by a diligent pursuit of laudable initiatives. Such as real commitment to emancipating the country from the throes of bad governance.