Nothing Like an Average Nigerian: You are Either Poor Or Rich

Remain Ye Peaceful and Calm Dear Nigerians!


Do you agree with this assertion? I am not the maker. I read it somewhere. It is an assertion of someone who is fed up with the turn of things and events in Nigeria. It sounds bizarre, but there is an element of truth in it. And possibly, it is an absolute truth.

No average Nigerian? No middle class? Though middle class could be a vague or rather an ambiguous term, I employ it in this context to refer to those people who are in the middle of the socioeconomic hierarchy. These are people who are not the poorest; they are not also the wealthiest. Some academics (not necessarily the Marxists) refer to them as the working class and, in most cases, they constitute the most populous class in most states (including the United States).

In a society where middle class exists, the aspiration of many of the poor is to become rich. The middle rungs on the socioeconomic ladder are the stepping stones to richness. Stepping on these rungs makes one fall into the category of the middle class. 

With a continuous struggle, some individuals inch towards richness and become rich; some maintain their working class status, while others lose their balance and slide into poverty. What this implies is that social mobility exists and it is possible. When the middle class ceases to exist, it is believed that the poor shall remain permanently poor and wretchedly poor because the stepping stones to richness are eliminated. Likewise the rich; they become permanently rich and absolutely rich.

However, and unfortunately, many Nigerians have already lost their balance. This informs the assertion that there is no average Nigerian. This undoubtedly paints a very gloomy picture and seemingly irredeemable situation. If this assertion is true, it is to say every condition is permanent (in other words).

Though it is wrong to blame Nigerians who think their conditions are permanent, the lived reality they experience on daily basis in Nigeria informs this judgment. Nigeria is a country where hard work or diligence rarely pays. It is a country where people rarely dream of success. 

Richness in Nigeria is not a right (some would add that it is not also a destiny), it is a privilege. Again, it is not an open privilege. It is not a privilege that is based on justice. It is not based on luck. It is not also accidental. It is a privilege that has to do with whom you are connected with, whom you know and who born you.

As said above, while we may not blame Nigerians who maintain that their conditions are permanent, the truth is that no condition is permanent. This is not in reference to the poor alone, the rich in Nigeria today, because of the absolute wealth they have amassed; do also think that their conditions are permanent. I insist: ‘no condition is permanent.’ My advice to the poor (including my humble self) is; let’s hope there is hope in our seeming hopelessness. 

My advice to the rich is also to humble themselves so that they do not go the way of Qarun (Korah) and end up like him. They should seek the home of the Hereafter with their riches and jettison pride and arrogance.

But why is it difficult for the poor Nigerians (nowadays) to think things can be better? Many have concluded already that as far as they remain in Nigeria, their terrible conditions can never witness improvement! This is shocking! Even Nigerians who summoned courage and gathered enough strengths to hope against hopelessness are still of the strong conviction that the only exit from poverty is to exit Nigeria. This is bad.

It is not amazing therefore to see people desperate to embark on the dangerous journey through the dangerous Saharan passage to Europe. They prefer to hug death (elsewhere) in their desperate attempt to exit Nigeria’s poverty than to die in Nigeria’s poverty. It is even said that dying as a poor in Nigeria’s politically imposed poverty can affect one’s destiny in the Hereafter. Put differently, if you allow poverty to kill you in Nigeria, God will never forgive you; so, you must run away. I think this is preposterous.  May be the religious scholars can help throw light on this. 

Do not think Nigerians only seek solutions to their financial problems in Europe and America, some run to Niger Republic, Ghana, and Cameroon. It is this terrible! Most Nigerians have lost hope completely in Nigeria. The primary responsibility of any state is to secure the lives and property of the people. In this regards, Nigeria has utterly failed. If we (Nigerians) do not even bother anymore on the security of our property because government is at the lowest ebb, at least our souls (lives) should be protected.

Let’s pause to ask: is anything wrong with Nigeria? No, absolutely. But many things are wrong with our politicians who do not know (or pretend not to know) that every act of injustice has a boomeranging effect. Now that Nigeria is synonymous with insecurity, they themselves cannot sleep with their two eyes closed. Our governors, law makers, ministers and even the President cannot move freely without a long entourage of heavily armed uniform men. Yet, they are susceptible to attack. 

Some of them do not visit their villages, wards, and constituencies anymore. Many governors (especially northern governors) now live in Abuja and rule from Abuja. The Federal Capital Territory, which to them remains a fortified enclave, is gradually being encroached by bandits. Or should I say by the bandits? After all, they are known. 

Some do not even see a difference between our elected political rulers and the bandits. It is only their tactics and approaches to punishing the masses that are different. I cannot agree less; though I always believe there are exemptions.

There is a complete lack of trust between the government and the governed. As it is now, even Tom, Dick, and Harry do not take Nigerian government seriously anymore. When the Minister of Education ,Adamu Adamu, announced a stipend of N75, 000 per semester for every undergraduate studying education in public schools in Nigeria, people questioned the honesty of the government in similar manner they would question the virginity of a prostitute. I will be happy if the President can prove them wrong.

Against the notion that socioeconomic conditions of the poor in Nigeria are permanent, the Qur’an says: “…and never give up of Allah’s Soothing Mercy: truly no one despairs of Allah’s Soothing Mercy, except those who have no faith” (Q12: 87); “…despair not of the Mercy of Allah” (Q39: 53), “…after a difficulty, Allah will soon grant relief” (Q65: 7), “So, verily, with every difficulty there is a relief” (Q94: 5).

While we hope that average Nigerians do not go into extinction, let’s continue to pray for our leaders. I know this enrages some of us. We hate to pray for our leaders because they are considered enemies. This may not be wrong. I mean the hatred could be justifiable. But when your enemy becomes the driver of the vehicle that will take you to your destination, do you have any option than to wish him safe driving? I hope this logic convinces you. If you are still not convinced, at least pray for Nigeria. After all, Nigeria is our fatherland and thus cannot be our enemy. O the God of mercy! Please, guide our leaders aright. 

Abdulkadir Salaudeen 

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