Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Poor in Nigeria Can Save Themselves

A poverty stricken slum in Nigeria

The Youth Speak articles on Poverty in America vis-à-vis Nigeria by Ebenezer Leo the Great published on Monday May 7, 2012, and Life below a dollar by Olorunfemi Owoyemi published on Wednesday May 9, 2012 on the back covers of The Guardian newspaper of Nigeria almost moved me to tears, because of the gripping realities of the disparities of lives in Nigeria where the government and the elites of the ruling class live in denial of the tragedies of widespread poverty plaguing millions of Nigerians in dire straits.

Map of Poverty Levels in Nigeria. Photo Credit:Nasir EL-Rufai.

As much as we know that maladministration is the cause of the collapse of democracy and governance in Nigeria and also caused the systemic collapse of manufacturing and human capital development, but ignorance has done more collateral damage to the poor masses than maladministration. The people are their own worst enemies since they have failed to help themselves by over relying on the government for their survival and welfare.

A poor village in Nigeria. Photo Credit: Commonwealth of Nations.

It is annoying to see students of tertiary institutions going on rampage on campus over lack of water supply and power outages by the school authorities when they can use their skills to dig boreholes to build wells and pump water into tanks to supply water for their various uses on campus. But they would prefer to spend hundreds of thousands of naira to buy expensive smart phones, laptops and clothes which they use as status symbols to impress their peers when they can form campus cooperatives and contribute money and skills to build wells for water supply and solar panels for solar power supply for their classrooms, laboratories and campuses. Students in the engineering department should be challenged to build these wells and solar panels and stop mere studying to just pass exams and writes theses to obtain their paper qualifications that in most cases have failed to equip them for the critical challenges and emergencies of contemporary life in a mismanaged economy of a dysfunctional civilian government.

Female hostel on the campus of a Nigerian university. Photo Credit: Nigerian Times.

The thousands of naira female students spend on buying expensive Brazilian hair and other imported hairweave attachments and wigs and BlackBerry smart phones will be enough to build wells and solar panels to supply water and power for their hostels, but they would rather waste their questionable monies on such perishable status symbols and continue to use their dilapidated and stinking toilets and bathrooms described by a visiting tourist as worse than the toilets of refugee camps in many war zones in Africa and a government minister said the toilets in female hostels on Nigerian campuses are worse than piggeries!

The poor people in both urban and rural areas have also failed to help themselves even though most of them are regular church goers and mosque goers pretending to be pious Christians and Muslims, but they don’t practice the tenets of their respective Christianity and Islam outside the walls of their churches and mosques, because they are hypocrites or wolves in sheep clothing. If they are ready to obey their teachings of the founders of their respective religions, they will fare better in addressing and solving the social and economic problems causing their poverty and insecurity.

They would fare well if they could put heads together and join hands to form neighbourhood cooperatives in their various towns and villages to help themselves as many such cooperatives in other developing countries have been successful in building wells, solar panels and profitable startups of cottage industries to turn their subsistence farming and trading into lucrative enterprises to become self-employed and even create many jobs for the jobless members of their communities and contributed funds for both academic and professional sponsorships and scholarships to assist needy members among them.

The poor and other concerned citizens should stop their lamentations of the woes of the dog eat dog situation in Nigeria and join hands to address and solve the various social, ethno-religious and political problems plaguing their lives, because as we can see that the dysfunctional government has failed woefully.

~ By Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima, author of Children of Heaven, Sleepless Night, Scarlet Tears of London, Bye, Bye Mugabe, In the House of Dogs, Black Obama and the American Dream, The Prophet Lied and other books, is also the Publisher/CEO of International Digital Post Network Limited, Founder of Eko International Film Festival and Founder/CEO of Screen Outdoor Open Air Cinema, operators of the Screen Naija One Village, One Cinema Project in Nigeria.

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