Poverty according to the Oxford Dictionary is the state of being poor.
Poverty indeed is an endemic and a serious pandemic worse off than Covid-19 that the world needs to look at critically and strategically as it affects our co-existence, retards development and threatens our collective peace. This is more severe in developing countries especially Nigeria as we have been told is the poverty capital of the world.
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Nigeria has been grappling with caustic poverty across its length and breadth which became exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Analytically, the bulk of the nation’s quagmire is rooted in poverty, once poverty can be fixed, the nation will be fixed to a large extent. Unfortunately, poverty has been weaponized as it is one of the areas, the political class uses to dominate and subjugate the masses, as it has been said: “A poor man doesn’t have a mind of his own.”
Something caught my attention recently, as I tried to comprehend and decipher why Covid-19 palliatives as it is called be brought to states and stored in warehouses this long without being delivered to the masses. Some said, the government was waiting for the right time to distribute the palliatives and I said what better time could the palliatives be distributed than now that a horde of Nigerians has become redundant, many are underemployed, some are obligated to take pay-cuts, others homeless and penniless.
When I watched the way Nigerians broke into the warehouses to loot food, I was bemused and discombobulated as it shows that poverty has been deeply entrenched into our national DNA. When reports came out years ago that we are the poverty capital of the world, our political leaders shrugged it off and said it was all politics but we know better now as it has been said: “Truth is like oil, which will always stay on top of water no matter how you mix both.”
Poverty Remains the bane of our society.
As it is like pregnancy which cannot be hidden completely, though can be masked initially but with time its visage will be seen vividly. I must state firmly, the central point of #EndSars protest was a campaign against poverty. Imagine a nation that is conducive for SMEs and FDI to thrive, imagine a nation where the pump price is very low since we are the largest oil-producing nation in Africa, imagine a nation where the exchange rates of foreign currencies to the naira are low which will improve foreign exchange and increase our purchasing power; this is not utopia, if it can be possible elsewhere, it can be possible in Nigeria.
Finally, I implore our leaders to create empowerment programs that will be felt by all and sundry including the man on the street, as we are all tired of “audio money”. Recently, we saw our collective peace disturbed; our political honchos, elites and men in the saddle of authority fleeing into the unknown. Poverty has no colour, tribe nor religion, poverty eviscerates the reasoning of a man as a poor man hardly thinks, even when the Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum His Excellency Kayode Fayemi came out to say the food might be poisonous because of the preservatives in it, I asked myself
“What could be more poisonous than poverty?”
Hunger is so iniquitous that when Esau in the Holy Book was asked to choose between food and his birthright, he chose food; this is why we saw the vandalization and carnage that happened and is still happening in the country. Poverty is what we must all join hands to defeat so as not to be defeated by this Frankenstein’s monster.
Usman O Abdullahi is based in Lagos and sent this piece via firstname.lastname@example.org
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