In the previous part to this blog post, I referred to a Punch article by Henry Boyo “Tortoise Folklore as metaphor for national Leadership” referring to the old tales about the tortoise and how greed and corruption at national scale borrows from the subtlety of the tortoise to corner wealth and to whom many Nigerians owe reparations for violation of copyrights. A speech by Professor Pius Adesanmi – Assistant Professor at Carlton University, Canada and Guest Speaker at a lecture organised recently by the Save Nigeria Group was featured in the article.
Many may ask for the evidence to allude to the tortoise, and though it may be unhelpful if not odious to mention names, still let me refer you to the latest Nov. 2012 profiles in the Forbes list of richest Africans and future women millionaires and allow you to form your own conclusions. Though there are clear exceptions and almost all the names on the list are notable for generous philanthropy and merciful foundations – it still does seem that ;
- Of the 12 names of Nigerians mentioned in the Forbes lists which includes two women, Forbes is actually bold to detail that seven had close relationships with present/past military leaders even naming one as a possible proxy to a former Head of state and another a former governor. Alliances with leaders or holders of previous top government posts with access to national resources feature prominently.
- Oil and Gas and Nigeria’s discretionary and non-discretionary largesse in granting oil blocs to a favored group have contributed to more than half of the list.
- Opaque access to government in some form or the other has opened the flood gates for a unique entrepreneurship that contributes to at least 75% on this list.
In summary, the lists prove that in Nigeria being in government or a friend, confidante, doctor, barber or seamstress to someone in power or having access to leadership in some form may be one of the surest ways to sustained wealth plus of course a dash of entrepreneurial brilliance and philanthropic flavor that cannot be denied.
God is not in any way against legitimate wealth and the pursuit of honest and fair gains.
While Nigeria boosts to be among top Africa’s wealthiest, BBC reported in February 2012 that poverty has risen in Nigeria, with almost 100 million people living on less than a $1 (£0.63) a day, despite economic growth. The National Bureau of Statistics said 60.9% of Nigerians in 2010 were living in “absolute poverty” – this figure had risen from 54.7% in 2004. Many believe the situation today may be worse. Where then is the righteousness?
Pro_12:10 A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
On their own, many faith organizations are commendably filling the gap by doing more in social responsibility efforts. But is enough being preached to caution against social ills, corruption, inequality in incomes, rising unemployment and poverty or are we indirectly encouraging the incomes gap and criminality by instantly embracing the economically advantaged as favored? Is government coming to terms with the reality that it has become a willing or unwilling vassal albeit innocently to be manipulated one way or another to enrich or maintain the wealth of an elite niche? Are there alternative models that will truly improve the earning capacity and lot of the masses? Are most people with alternative propositions now too nervous to irritate an all-powerful government that seems to have the key to unlock to the individual the opportunity of a glorious financial future? One simple answer is to shrink government through extensive privatizations but the concern remains how to ensure assets do not end up with the same club.
Back to the clever tortoise and Professor Pius Adesanmi’s speech – quoted in the Punch…
“The second telltale sign of Ijapa’s antisocial culture and greed was his contrivance to corner for himself all the fruits from the only tree that remained productive in his famine-ravaged village. Instead of intoning the usual song that would drop his personal ration of one coconut a day on his back, the selfish tortoise’s melodious deviant refrain ultimately demanded that all the potential output of the coconut tree should fall on him in one fell swoop, so that he would corner the market and make substantial profit from selling the fruits to the starved villagers!”
It should be obvious to all that poverty only increases in times of economic growth mainly because someone else has gathered together that which should have benefited a larger mass of people. The innovation of the tortoise that feeds the mega-rich classes of a few while the larger masses in majority suffer – is wickedness.
This is not saying that all that are wealthy on any list are devious or that all close to or in government exhibit greedy cunning. Still many Nigerians are becoming impatient to discover a nouveau and old riche whose mastery continues to be trips to government hubs and subtle alliances with leadership and may someday be demanding for much more detailed explanations than Forbes seems bold to make.
People ask why I am convinced that God will do His wonders and still finish His great work in Nigeria and we shall sing all is well. This is a nation that has previously witnessed God’s intervention, special goodness and uncommon compassion … a nation with divine purpose.
Mat_16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Lord, show us a sign that all is well.