The other day, in a WhatsApp group, a member posted these words “poverty is a bastard”. It was not as a reply to a previous comment, nor was it tagged. It just stood there on its own in the hitherto silent place.
One begins to wonder what must have brought about the statement. Was the fellow facing a financial crisis and therefore spoke out of frustration? Was it a call to others to by all means never let themselves be held bondage by this ugly bastard? It could even be that this person just had a breakthrough and then sought to mock poverty. Whatever might have brought about the statement, the fact is, except for poetic purpose, poverty has no good in it, and it is in short a wicked noun.
But on a closer look, poverty is no bastard. (save for the fact that no one wants to be associated with it). We know poverty’s progenitors.
Poverty is the offspring of idleness/laziness. Some are poor simply because they have refused to work, even more alarming are those who have been offered means of subsistence on a platter of gold and yet they refused, expecting money to grow on tree. I remember the story of a man who had no means of income, someone heard of his plight and offered to gift him a car for him to do taxi for some time, probably because it was what he had at the time, but the poor man refused, giving the weird excuse that he would kill people with the car whenever he has to reverse the car.
Poverty is the offspring of bad leadership. When leaders in any sector; family, corporate, governance and even religious, fail to manage available resources, it leads to poverty, either through waste or by some becoming wealthy while others wallow in extreme lack.
Poverty is the offspring of looters, the greedy. When 1 takes that which belongs to 10,000, you can imagine the imbalance.
This is not to degenerate anyone who might be having a tough time financially; there is hope and something can always be done.
But do you know, poverty is not just about money and its absence. Poverty hides itself in uncommon places; in palaces, banks, real estate and to summarize, in humanity. Simply say, it hides in vices, whether with the wealthy or with the poor. So to summarize it, we have the poverty of virtue.
The poverty of virtue is commonly manifested as bad character, because character summarizes the acts or personality of a person. So if a person is poor in love (virtue), he or she displays it through wickedness (vice). If a person is poor in honesty it comes out as lies, if in kindness it comes out as being rude, and so on.
A man may be poor in one aspect and rich in another, the issue is to honorably strive to make virtue trump vice to a great degree as seeking perfection may be a difficult task, especially as perspectives differ.
Recently I heard a man eulogizing Buhari, speaking of how he is not corrupt and handles government business selflessly. The man said that in his 30 years as a journalist and politician, no one has ever been able to pin Buhari down with any case of mismanagement. I felt that if in the face of diverse criticism and undeniable shortcomings of the Buhari regime, this big man is singing Buhari’s praise, then he must be looking for some favors from the government in power. But then I remembered that even before Buhari became president, integrity is one of the endearing traits that has made him loved and respected by the elites and masses alike. So if he had no power to wield then, it means there is an atom of truth in it.
Except for the subtle accusations of misdeeds when he headed the PTDF many years back, there seems not to be another. Now, with the high rate of insecurity and harsh socio-economic conditions, the cabal theory is back again. Recall that a cabal also influenced the Jonathan era to a great degree. Simply put, the cabal theory insinuates that a leader would do better if there are no influential groups of people around him/her distorting reality so that the leader does not see clearly. But must we always have bad cabals, can there be good cabals for once. This should be another discussion on its own.
And then I concluded that even if Buhari is a ‘poor’ president without much asset, apart from his cow ranch in Daura, he has the WEALTH of integrity, maybe not 100%, but at least above average.
Also former president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, despite his poor method in curtailing his ministers excesses (*is Buhari’s method different), Jonathan’s wealth of humaneness is almost unmatched in Africa. Consider how he gave up sweet power, something even the rich will die for. You cannot help but say, he’s a good man.