The population of the poor in Nigeria has continued to increase, from some 60% in the last few years to around 70% today. So is the number of billionaires, Nigeria's Aliko Dangote has witnessed multiplication in his total wealth to some $20 billions putting him among the 25 top riches individuals in the world. In the last few years the rich class has witnessed an increase in it welfare the result of favourable government policies, while the poor class has seen deterioration in its general standard of living. This is not an accident that happen from nowhere, it was plan from the beginning. What do you expect from a government that is filled to the brink with people sympathetic to neo-liberal economic and political worldview, that see nothing wrong in the poor going to sleep with an empty stomach. In the current arrangement, finance minister, as well as that of commerce and investment, agriculture, and heads of key government institution are die-hard advocate of winner take all capitalism, who belief in the continue economic encroachment (by the wealthy class) into all key spheres of the country's economy at the expense of the majority poor. Take for example, (as i also made mention in my last post on this blog) the so-called revolution that the regime in Abuja is claiming to be taken place in the agricultural sector. It is nothing more than government backing the capitalist class to enter the farming sector which they now view as lucrative for making billions and increasing their wealth. It look no more than government handing over of poor farmers sources of livelihood to a group of few ruthless capitalists in order to make billions.
Look at the central economic issue of wealth distribution, it is still highly skewed in favour of few million Nigerians at the expense of over hundred millions people who are wallowing in abject poverty. I hope i am not sounding like a Marxist here. But, the truth must be told that poverty remain the major challenge facing this government and all those that came before it. A situation where good jobs are reserve for only those that come from rich families, who have good connections, is disaster waiting to happen and in a country that want to reduce the high level of inequality in its mid. Despite continue promises to create jobs for the teaming unemployed youth, the government has failed to deliver on this key promise. Hence, the resort to criminal activities by these unemployed graduates, in form of kidnappings, robbery, email scams, petty thievery, and hooliganism. Abuja Nigeria's capital has become a kind of magnet that attract the rich and throw away the poor. Why? Simply because life is so expensive in the capital city that only the super rich can afford it luxury. The poor are literally restricted to rural areas and states capitals, living in overcrowded quarters. For a first time visitor to the country who arrived Abuja and did not go outside of it, that person will wrongly assume that Nigerians are rich. But, go outside the capital to any village in the country and you will see extreme poverty starring at you- welcome to Nigeria the country of rich and poor.
Corruption was so endemic as habit and way of life of the Nigerian elite that the mere thinking of somebody coming to power with the intention of fighting the menace of corruption made them shiver. With corruption Nigerian elite has found a powerful weapon to maintain the current status quo, the continue suffering of the majority of Nigerian population under government induce poverty. There is no powerful weapon to perpetuate inequality more than corruption. The numerous efforts in the past by the Nigerian poor to put people with clean record into power was stalled by the corrupt elite by means of election rigging, another form of corruption. With Nigerian democracy as it is now it will require extraordinary effort to bring a government that will fight for the interest of the majority. Globally, education has been recognized as a powerful weapon in reducing inequality and increasing societal welfare; but, one irony here is that Nigerian governments both, at federal and state levels, do not care much about this, since they have all send their children abroad to countries where education is highly valued. Imagine having 70% of Nigerian population as literate, do you foresee this kind of nonsense taking place; the answer is simple No. It is understandable when government is very serious with education to give it some room for excuse on its lapses in other areas of important to the fight against inequality. But, a government that neglect the education of its people has no room for any excuse. Poverty, inequality, and illiteracy,the three evils that have found a sanctuary in Nigeria and a government that loss all clues on how to solve these problems are this country problem.
An average Nigerian elite do not like the word REVOLUTION, because by revolution it means the majority are, in some way, going to remove the minority from their hold on power. It means the unexpected happening, it means change; and the rich and political class hate change. As i am writing this article election is eminent the two major political parties in the country are putting things in place to see that they win the elections come next year. But, the question remain is INEC ready to provide free and fair election? Looking back and taken the previous elections into consideration the answer is no, but one hope this time around Jega or who ever is at the helm of affairs during that time will do some miraculous things and provide acceptable election to the people of Nigeria. In his book 'Neo-Liberalism or Democracy?', Arthur MacEwan (p. 225) writes 'the problem of how to achieve democratic economic development is not nearly so simple as the numerous puzzles that Holmes attacked, nor are the problems of development ones that can be settled primarily by the clever reasoning of a sharp intellect. The barriers that block democratic economic development are social and political: they are problems of power.' I guess that explain our problem here - POWER, how could the majority lay their hands on power? I hear somebody mentioning election, but big-time riggers are their to ensure that the poor did not realized his ambition of putting somebody clean into the position of power. With people like Jega, as head of INEC, the dream of bringing intellectual to spearheaded the needed change has been put to rest since. What next for the poor is the question that sometimes give me restless nights.