Poverty, productivity and the National Assembly

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Nigerian senators are worried about a “looming revolution”. And they’ve identified the cause: the poverty tsunami the country is facing. Last week they spent 90 minutes debating how to bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots. They talked about the chicken coming home to roost, the revolt of the downtrodden, the elites under siege and the dictatorship of angry drug-addled beggars. They blame it on, “…long years of neglect of the welfare and future of younger generations and unwillingness by both the government and the elites to plan for the future, or read the signs of upheaval.”

Not a single senator, however, mentioned the disparity between the mammoth salaries and allowances of lawmakers (a tiny elite; 0.002% of Nigeria’s population) and the minimum wage. This is one of the factors that drive extreme inequality in Nigeria.

In Nigeria where political and economic power is intertwined, inequality is worsening. Public office is not only considered a quick route to riches, politicians have become a self-perpetuating and self-serving clique. Capturing political power gives access to economic benefits, and given the high cost of financing a campaign, officeholders are less interested in policymaking that favour the majority. Nigeria’s legislature has become a career path to quick riches. It is plagued by careerism. Political careerists see the legislature as a means to opulence rather than minimum comfort required to serve their country.

Based on some calculations a Nigerian lawmaker earns 10,000 times more than national minimum wage and 200 times more than Nigeria’s GDP per capita. Only highly paid CEOs earn so much.

Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart and one of the highest paid executives in the world earned $23 million in 2017 – over 1,000 times more than the median salary of an average staff at the … Read More...

The Nigerian poor bear the brunt of the law, the rich are untouchable

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Poverty is a universal phenomenon that exists in all economies including the developing, developed, undeveloped, emerging and frontier. Poverty is a class and those who belong here, known and labeled as ‘the poor’, have varied definitions depending on place and circumstance.

Whereas the Holy Book called the Bible celebrates the poor, especially the poor in heart, as people who are meek, gentle, honest, pure in their thinking, reasoning and dealing with fellow human beings, man looks at the poor from a variegated prism as the have-nots, humiliated, vilified and deprived.

The poor who populate these new faith centres are assured of prosperity on the condition that they sow so that they can reap and so, from tithe to seed faith, covenant seed, self-denial, contacting the pastor’s anointing with special but substantial offering directly proportional to expected wealth, the poor is stripped bare, and clothed with great expectations.

The poor are, indeed, a pitiable lot and, in the Nigerian society, given the way it is configured and run today, they are not only deprived, but also criminialsed. They are deprived of basic needs of life including food and good shelter for reasons of affordability. They are also deprived of the freedom and right to even suffer, as they do, to remain alife.

Here is a country where government has no provision whatsoever that caters for the poor, yet is always out hounding and criminalizing many of them who have decided to live, in spite government, by hawking, riding commercial motorcycles (okada), and doing sundry things to keep going with life.

Nigeria is also a country where the poor are confirmed criminals, always hounded and oppressed by the government, for peccadilloes or minor offences including even being able to afford to seek refuge in the slums, which … Read More...