As I was enjoying one of my hobbiesreading newspapers, I ran across a very caustic placard held by a young man. The scene must have been a riot in a Lagos suburb or somewhere like it. Talking about hobbies for me, reading ranks first among dancing, writing, scrabble playing, traveling and social works.
The said caustic placard read, ‘one day the poor would not have anything to eat except the rich!’ I instantly took that very seriously and went down memory lane. The French revolution was one of such riots targeted at the rich and resulted in a historic revolution.
Charles Dickens made a good creative work out of it titled A Tale of Two Cities, where a noble woman riding in her carriage hardly realize the difference between cake and bread. As she drove along the road, a lot of people were crying and she wondered why. On inquiry, they told her that people couldn’t get bread to eat.
Distanced from the populace and their pains, she found that absurd and retorted: why can’t they eat cake? The price of cake may have been 100% higher than that of bread. And she couldn’t realize the scarcity of cash to purchase cake. According to Microsoft Encarta: ‘the French Revolution is a political, economic, and social event, the French Revolution is spurred by a growing tax burden, economic hardship among the poor, and a crisis in the French state.’
In like manner, the Peasant Wars also called Wat Tyler’s rebellion or the Great Rising in England of 1381 smacked of socio-economic and political tensions. Back home the Aba women riot of 1929 shares a similar cause of women protesting over an imposition by the ruling class of the colonial authority.
The poster case reenacted above man look a distant approach and incidence in Nigeria because we are not given to riots and demonstrations recalling that in 2004, a research proclaimed Nigeria to be the happiest people in the world precisely because we suffer and smile as Fela Anikulapo Kuti observed in one of his popular renditions. On a closer scrutiny, the poor are already eating the rich. You may wonder how? Two cases are enough to establish this claim judging from news a few months ago.
A lady, Mary Akinloye, averagely educated was coaxed by her intended husband or live-in-lover and her criminal family to target a supposed rich woman, Mrs. Adebisi Orekoya, who badly needed a nanny and advertised in the internet. She subscribed to the nanny job and two days after, kidnapped the children she was supposed to protect and her group followed up promptly with a demand for a whopping ransom.
Quite recently, a notable professor and former V C of Fed University of Tech. Akure (FUTA) Mr Albert Ilemobode, in the southwest of Nigeria, strongly advancing to his eightieth birthday was gruesomely killed by people who should protect him, his former driver and security man.
The Professor who from reports from family, church and neighbours couldn’t hurt a fly, but was practically living for others with an enviable record of charity, forgiveness and benevolence. His children were grown up and made. Most of them, male and female, married and were living on their own. One of them a prof, living and working in South Africa. And just for greed, they killed such a personality only to collect a few belongings including his car. There are so many cases of murder, assassination and in most cases for paltry sums.
Our little girls now carry pregnancies for nine months for as less as 20 Thousand Naira. Tricycle and Okada riders sell children they are supposed to take to school. It is a known fact that when the majority of people who live around or are related to a rich man are poor, the so called rich man is not rich anymore as he would always spend on the poor directly or indirectly. When he is not giving to placate, he spends heavily on security to ward off unwanted guests, the security men sometimes may turn the gun on him. Mugging, armed robbery attacks, kidnappings are targeted at people who have steal-able property, ability to pay ransoms and the rest.
People should consider a change in lifestyle where there are high ostentation and unwarranted display of wealth amid peasants and the downtrodden. The pastors who fly on jets, obviously at the expense of bicycle-riding members are not helping matters. Most times when drunk with their prosperity sermons, they prophesy for unskilled persons that they will ride cars. When the cars do not materialize as fast as said, they may dream up ideas.
The big corporate bodies like banks, industrial behemoths and some over rich should be encouraged or forced by antitrust laws to invest in the poor. A good example was set by T Y Danjuma, who after realizing how rich he became from his oil blocks, has been donating to individuals and groups. Gen Danjuma is not the only one who was granted oil blocks.
If it is possible, President Buhari should create a ministry of poverty reduction which will have to trickle to the 36 states to address the issues of rising poverty lest we all perish gradually