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Nigeria @ 62: Paradox of poverty amid plenty

“Nothing is permanent here except suffering. No job security, no safety clothes or gadgets. Accidents are common. Every worker here would leave if they had a choice. -Joyce Ugbede

“As other nations face /the challenges of the 21st century/, we are bogged down by elite greed./Every time we think we’ve seen/the worst of our country,/the shameless power grabbers and opportunists/ bring us back to a new low” – Nigeria Democratic Liberty Forum, NDLF New York (June 2010)

Over the past six decades, the statistics have been nothing short of frightening, shocking and outrageous! We are of course talking about the inexcusable social inequality and injustice that still persists between the few rotten wealthy citizens and the long-suffering ruled majority here in my dear homeland, Nigeria.

Knowing that we live in a country abundantly blessed by God with vast and varied natural resources, it is a crying shame that we are still entangled in the deepest chasm of pitiful poverty, on a global scale.

Name the resources and we can boast – including high quality crude oil and gas, solid minerals of precious types, rich agricultural resources, places of scenic splendor and eye-catching tourist attractions. In addition, we have with us abundant human resources, in practically all areas of professional vocation. Yet millions of citizens still go to bed hungry and harassed; seriously afraid of what tomorrow has in store for them. It’s no wonder that hundreds of thousands of enlightened citizens have been caught up in the massive wave of “jappaing” to greener pastures, both near and far.

So what has been the missing link, over the years, if not that of quality leadership that is sacrificial, patriotic and visionary enough to connect millions of Nigerians to the bountiful treasuries of God?

As the nation celebrates 62 years of political independence from British colonialists, it’s another moment of sober reflection away from the heinous and terrifying tornadoes of the grand deception. , kleptomaniac ruling elite; blindly driven by greed for personal gain and of course, the millstones of the acquiescent and ignorant majority.

Indeed, most of our current socio-economic and political crises are self-inflicted. This is where the pain lies! . Although it has the resources to end extreme poverty and equalize inequalities between rich and poor, women and men, it remains the country where the government is the least committed to reducing inequalities in West Africa”

He went on to add that: “The combined wealth of Nigeria’s five richest men – $29.9 billion – could end extreme poverty nationally, but 5 million people face hunger. More than 112 million people live in poverty in Nigeria, yet the richest man in the country would have to spend $1 million a day for 42 years to exhaust his fortune.

In specific terms, the report states that the amount of money the richest Nigerian man can earn annually from his wealth is enough to lift 2 million people out of poverty for a year. Conscientious, isn’t it? Of course it should.

Let us not forget that, as at independence in 1960, the poverty rate was 15%, but according to official figures published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) of Nigeria, the incidence of poverty in Nigeria between 1980 and 2010 went from 27.2% to 69.0%!

In fact, according to MacroTrends https://www.macrotrends.net › countries › NGAonNigeria Poverty Rate 1985-2022 | the number of poor people which stood at 89.0 million in 2020 was expected to be 95.1 million in 2022. Currently, the ordinary poverty rate Nigerians who wear the tarmac shoes are feeling the pain!

Breaking down the numbers, Oxfam Report explained that out of a population of almost 200 million in Nigeria, more than one in four people (57 million people) do not have access to safe drinking water. Two-thirds (more than 130 million people) lack adequate sanitation facilities while more than ten million children are out of school. live on less than $1.90 a day. This is disturbing, whether our political leaders admit it or not!

The million naira question you ask yourself, as a worried Nigerian, is, “Where did our oil wealth go? This was the theme of the stimulating lecture delivered by Professor Ayodele Awojobi (of blessed memory) at various universities in the late 1970s. But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to offer valid answers. .

The restless race of greedy grasshoppers, dressed in gabardine robes of increasing graft, strutting our streets on behalf of politicians, actively engaged in the relentless plunder of the national land – our common heritage. In 2003, Midweek Scoop Magazine reported that a few Nigerians hid a whopping N241.6 trillion Naira in foreign safes, with only 2% of Nigerians controlling the wealth of some 160 million people!

Overall, the Economist Magazine in London said about $600 billion (about 420 trillion naira) has been stolen from Nigeria by these politicians and their conspirators since its independence in 1960. Chatham House , a British thinker-tank, estimated at $582 billion.

Is it better than today? No way. The headlines gave us the smoldering clues: “$3.27 billion in gross lost to thieves in 14 months – FG screams”. This was March 2022. Next comes: “Scandalous oil theft: Nigeria loses N3.038 trillion in one year” This was May 2022. And in September 2022 another revelation came: “Oil theft: Nigeria loses $700 million monthly” On September 12, 2022, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) reported losing 470,000 bpd of crude oil worth $700 million per month due to oil theft!

With all these oil thefts, added to the billions in public funds stolen by monkeys, pythons and lately termites, under a government that came to the proud pedestal of power with the mantra of integrity to change the narrative, you can understand the avoidable pains of poverty in the midst of plenty.

Now you understand why Nelson Mandela, the late South African avatar and anti-apartheid activist said this about the crop of Nigerian leaders: He said, “Your leaders have no respect for their people. /They believe that their personal interests are the interests of the people. /They take people’s resources and turn them into personal wealth. /There is a level of poverty in Nigeria that should be unacceptable. It’s point blank.

It should be recalled that in 2016, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, while admitting that around 110 million Nigerians were still living below the poverty line, with some parts of the country recording cases of around 80% or 90% of out-of-school children, said that “governments have not been accountable to the people, otherwise policies should be rooted in the real conditions of the people. He expressed his views during a courtesy visit from members of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS) Alumni Association at State House, Abuja But Nigerians want their leaders to lead by example.

The truth in all these contentious issues is that the type of democracy we currently run in Nigeria is that of ants, pro-politicians; with a high cost of access to political power intended only for the rich, a huge salary for them, and of course, this fuels the personalization of power, nepotistic appointments, ethno-religious feelings and can never lead us to earth promised.