Nigeria is ranked the richest country in Africa over and above the industrial giants like South Africa, Egypt and Algeria. The Gross Domestic Product of the most populous black country in the world is said to be above four hundred billion Dollars! Besides, the richest man in Africa and the black world is Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote. Again, in the Forbes billionaires rich list as it concerns Africa Nigerians register some good number including Mike Adenuga, Femi Otedola, Tony Elumelu etc.
But paradoxically Nigeria is ranked the ‘poorest’ country in the whole world! It has ingloriously overtaken India as the poverty capital of the globe. We shall soon come back to that sore point for a better elucidation and comprehension of this monumental national social tragedy afflicting a supposedly great nation.
When we say ‘poorest’ country we are not saying in effect that Nigeria is poorer than Somalia, Chad, Mali, Ethiopia or dozens of other miserable countries in sub-Saharan Africa. No. We are just paradoxically suggesting that since the poorest of the Adamic earth inhabit our clime then it stands to reason to insinuate that we are indeed poor on a global scale.
And that ought to interrogate our sense of existence as a people. How on earth could we have sunken to this level of misery for which the majority of our people are associated with?
The crucial question that pricks our collective conscience is: why are we so rich, blessed by Providence, yet very poor, cursed by the devil? Can any country (or any man) be rich and at the same time poor? It boggles the mind how this positive/negative situation could be allowed to be our national portion!
But the reason is not far-fetched. Despite the entrepreneurial ingenuity and industriousness of our people (especially the Igbos and Yorubas) the diffident and vacuous leadership at the omnipotent centre has ensured, over time, we are stuck in the middle of nowhere groping in the dark and constantly searching for answers and solutions that are neither here nor there.
Again, corruption has rendered progress and development comatose. The moral and mundane corruption has destroyed efforts of our people at development at all levels. It is in our character to be corrupt, to adore same and embrace those criminally committed to promoting and prospering the cankerworm.
Corruption has endured for decades, despite the much-vaunted crusade against same, because the system is crooked and rotten. And broken. While the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as an anti-graft agency charged with the onerous responsibility of nipping it in the bud is doing a good job politics tends to emasculate its powers and performance.
The corruption hydra-headed monster is the major reason we have terrorism, banditry and other phenomena threatening our collective existence. Many politicians had been ’empowered’ so much by corruption that any idle talk about vanquishing same is seen as a menacing venture against their selfish interests.
Since flag independence in 1960 down to the enthronement of democracy in 1999 following the June 12 national debacle we have never elected a great leader prepared for national salvation. What we have had instead had been Presidents swimming in corruption, favouritism and posting mediocre performances.
Alas, the nation bleeds! Terrorists, kidnappers, arsonists and gun-wielding criminals (some in state uniforms) have conspired to snuff life out of the nation. The general situation remains dire and unfortunate to say the least.
You cannot be rich and at the same time poor! Hell no! The two existential elements are incompatible like water and fire, light and darkness. But that sadly is the story of Nigeria.
We have got the black gold, cocoa, groundnut and shrewd businessmen and women yet our nation is populated by majority indigent souls struggling to eke out a living. Many among them survive miraculously with less than a Dollar daily income!
In spite of this miserable reality confronting us we are said to be among the ‘happiest’ people in this livable planet we know better. It could be mockery as it could be a stupid conclusion. If comedians say so then we can afford to laught it off.
The pursuit of happiness can only begin when we are able to conquer poverty in our lives. Happiness and misery has been the recurrent defining feature in our national life for decades on end. Yet, we believe patriotically that Nigerians can still aspire for collective happiness and greatness.
The moment we resolve to make things better things can get better. First and foremost though, we must put Buharism behind us and hopefully the next President would be the ‘right’ man for the job.