BY COMRADE EDWIN EKENE
One of the physical conditions synonymous with human nature is poverty! It is a challenge that has defiled all known theories and laws. The world that is divided along national, racial, religious, sectional, denominational, cultural, ideological and political lines is brought together at every given opportunity to brainstorm on the best approach to tackling this distasteful reality. The increasing demands for workable solutions that will permanently arrest this generational challenge was what prompted the former President of World Bank Group, Mr. Robert Zoellic, to make a statement every constructive critic must reflect on! He said: “If poverty were so easy to overcome, someone would have done it long ago”. This was the statement that came from the former boss of an international organization dedicated to tackling global poverty.
It was Isaac Newton, in propounding the law of gravity, that said: “Whatever goes up must come down”, but, some persons now say, whatever goes up in Nigeria keeps going up and vice versa! Before now, our tertiary institutions used to be meeting point for students from both the rich and poor families, thereby enhancing the chances of social mobility! But, today, the reverse is the case as children of the rich either attend foreign universities or any of the private universities or tertiary institutions which the children of the poor cannot attend. Government funded tertiary institutions are now left for the children of the middle class and few children of the poor. This is one of the reasons our lawmakers are considering the idea of making laws to prevent the children of public office holders from schooling abroad.
Some years ago, when the daughter of one of the former Nigerian leaders was about getting married to one of the sitting governors in the country, the youths of his community were protesting, saying why must it be only a particular group of Nigerians that will be marrying the daughters of the former Nigerian leader. But, their questions fell on deaf ears! The truth of the matter is that such attitude is fast becoming an entrenched culture in our social life. There was a time when the daughter of one of the Nigerian business moguls wanted to tie the nuptial nut with one of the little known contractor in her father’s company, her father allegedly rejected the offer initially, but because of the genuine insistence of the lady, the marriage was consummated. Going by the current realities in the country, I doubt if the son of a governor will ever marry the daughter of a farmer or a trader! The marriage line in the country is now divided along socio-economic, religious and political lines. Whether these marriages have been successful or not is a different story. Even in advanced societies, children of the poor or the middle class still get married to the children of the higher class. This was exemplified on April 29, 2011, when Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge got married to Catherine Elizabeth Middleton, daughter of a former staff of British Airway. According to reports, they both met at the University of St. Andrew in 2001, before other things like rapport, self disclosure, mutual dependency, personality needs fulfillment and finally marriage consummation followed suits. (Apologies to Ira Reiss)
The gap between the rich and the poor is too wide in Nigeria. The middle class in the country is just a hand full. According report by Thisday Newspaper in 2011, middle class are those whose monthly salary is $500 or about N80, 000 and above. Also, at the 8th National Conference on Investment, organized by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council, the Minister of State for Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Chief Olajumoke Akinjide said, about 46.9 percent of the residents in Abuja earn below N30,000 per month, while 19.77 percent of the population in Abuja earn between N30,000 and N50,000 per month. Only 5.44 percent earn between N50,000 and N100, 000 per month.
Before any relationship begins, it must start with a rapport between the parties involved. Now, the children of the higher class lodge in hotels where a room cost about N100, 000 per night. When they attend clubs, it is either a high profile one in Nigeria or a club or a holiday outside the country! There is really no platform for the cross fertilization of ideas among these classes of Nigerians. This was the situation where one of the top female government officials expressed in an interview she granted to one the national dailies in 2007. She said, in those days when she was single, she actually needed a man, but available ones where afraid to come around because of her high status both in education and income (sic).
The harsh economic realities and uncertainties young men and women are facing in the country can sometimes be viewed as man-made. Imagine a situation where a young man would want to marry, instead of allowing him to cut his cloth according to his means, compulsory lists from different angles will be handed down to him, including the church list. In Western countries, if a man is marrying a wife, he is marrying an individual, but, in Africa, a young man that wants a positive nod from his in-laws, parents, wife, church and society have just compounded his problems. But, the simple reality is that, we all operating from the same economy where social popularity has no economic value!
Since culture undergoes changes through innovation and diffusion, I think it is high time we had stopped this Nigerian way of dying! (Apologies to Professor Wole Soyinka).
Comrade Edwin Ekene is the National President of Young Nigerians for Change.
No. 29, Ben Mbamalu Crescent, Achara Layout, Enugu.