By Yinka Odumakin
SOCIAL engineering is the use of centralised planning in an attempt to manage social change and regulate the future development and behaviour of a society.
Events around us suggest that the Nigerian ruling elite may have deliberately employed the tool of poverty to create a tranquilized polity with a dovish populace too hungry to act in their enlightened self interest and so vulnerable to all manipulative tendencies.
A friend of mine argued years ago that the Nigerian elite would engineer natural disasters if it were within their powers in order to fleece the common till… It may sound uncharitable but I have not see a group more wicked then those who govern Nigeria. They are so self-centred, greedy,crooked and without compassion of any kind.
Their dutiful service in deepening inequality in the land has finally landed Nigeria at the dungeon of misery and overtaking India by becoming the World headquarters of poverty in the first quarter of 2018.
The Brookings Institution in its report painted a sobering picture of the poverty situation in Nigeria.
Its data showed that Nigeria has 87 million people in extreme poverty as against India’s 73 million.
The report suggests that the poverty situation in Nigeria is so damning that six people fall below poverty line every minute.
The 87 million people recorded by the Brookings Institution report is just below half of the official poverty rate recorded in Nigeria.
It is said that in the mouths of two witnesses shall every truth be confirmed.The National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, has also revealed that that 112 million Nigerians live below poverty line.
The Africa Development Bank, AfDB, has even given a more scary outlook about poverty in Nigeria.
The bank believes that 80 per cent of Nigerians live below poverty line.
Judging from the AfDB data, it is obvious that 153.6 million out of an estimated population of 192 million live below poverty line.
The difference with the Brookings Institution is that it only only records those in extreme poverty.
The federal government has did not joined issue with AfDB’s poverty figures or had contested the figures given by the NBS.
But it has obviously picked the gauntlet with the figures from the Brookings Institution probably because it would have been proud to be UN Headquarters or that of OAU at least instead of being the World Secretariat of poverty.
Okechukwu Enelama, Nigeria’s minister of trade and investment in dismissing the Brookings report argued that the data might have been compiled when Nigeria was in recession.
He listed the steps taken by government to combat poverty and concluded that the situation on ground was better than what the Brookings report suggested. The reality on ground however is that poverty in Nigeria may have been under reported by the Brookings Institution. All around us we see poverty walking on four legs.
India that handed the headquarters to Nigeria had its poverty index rooted in a population of over one billion people.They have been able to effect measures to improve the conditions of their extreme poor in spite of not having the type of resources available to Nigeria.
Nigeria’s poverty is the creation of its conspicuous consumptive rulers.The social inequality in the country has seen less than 5,000 politicians cornering most of available resources. More than N1.2 trillion of the country’s annual budget is spent on them.
A huge chunk of what is left in the budget is looted by the same class of people through project duplication and inflated contracts.Corruption is not just an affliction of officials in Nigeria but the monster is an official.
Before the deliberate use of poverty as a weapon of social engineering by the ruling elite, Nigeria used to have a vibrant civil society and when we saw bizarre things happening in some African countries the refrain used to be “it can’t happen in Nigeria”. But the escalation of poverty turned Nigeria to a land of “anything is possible .”
The systematic destruction of the formal sector threw a large chunk of the population to the informal sector eking daily living. That froze social mobility as those who live day-by-day cannot afford to go on any long drawn battle before the pangs of hunger call them to order.
That Nigeria has fallen below imaginable levels hit us graphically as Ekiti went to the polls last Saturday to elect a governor. What was supposed to be an exercise in civic engagement of democratic choices became a crazy bazaar.
That our people have been turned to commodities to be purchased was evident on the eve of the elections with allegations that billions of Naira were being moved into the rural areas in the state .
All doubts that inducement was the name of the game in an era of anti-corruption propaganda and deception were removed when a video by the BBC went viral with voters confessing they were being induced with N4,000 to to part with their votes.Poverty stricken residents were seen running all over the place to partake of the vote buying debauchery. As the day went by, there were reports of the stake going up as much as N10,000 per vote in the state capital .
The BBC report found echo in The Punch Newspapers account which stated :
“A resident of the Immigration area, along the Poly Road, in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said one of the parties was with a list of some targeted voters and was inducing them with N4,000 each.”
The resident said the party’s agents had come to his residence and given out money to three persons in the house.
He said, “Politicians started distributing money to influence voters to cast their votes for their candidates in the election. We were already asleep on Thursday night when they came and knocked on our gate and handed envelopes to three persons whose names were on their lists.
“They gave three persons, but I was not given because I didn’t register as a voter in the area. I think they used the voter register unit-by-unit to identify those they had given money to. They would have given me if my name was on their register. Those who were given envelopes opened them and discovered that there was N4,000 inside each envelopes.”
Many of the observers at the election have also confirmed the corruption of the electoral process with financial inducement and tainting the entire process and robbing it of any credibility.
The shameful conduct of the political class in Ekiti is the boldest statement of the utter contempt they have for the people they have pauperized. It is a sign that they place more value on the ballot box which they at least place at the polling units to give the impression that voting was taking place. But the electorate are just commodities to be purchased at a price. In my part of the county there is a catchword for this rape of the democratic process. It is called it “dibo ko sebe”(vote and cook soup).Of course, the people are too dirty and poor to throw the illicit dole outs from these criminal politicians in their faces. It is the reality of the cold fireplace in an empty kitchen.
That these crooked beings have the audacity to rub it in on our people that they can’t afford to cook soup except they sell their conscience is what philosopher Yinka Ayefele had in mind when he sang that whatever the world turns your fortune to, it abuses you with it.
The Nigerian wicked elite may think they have found answer to the electorate by exploiting their poverty to throw cash around on election days to secure victory,but how sustainable is that? For crying out loud, it’s not! Some day, monkey will go to the market and will not return .
It would come to a point when the words of Kennedy would come alive in this hopeless arrangement: Any free society that cannot help the many who are poor cannot protect the few who are rich.
The day the rage of the poor will come,many of those taking advantage of them now will flee, leaving their illicit acquisition behind.
Bob Marley keeps knocking the door of my heart :
Old pirates, yes, they rob I
Sold I to the merchant ships
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit
But my hand was made strong
By the hand of the Almighty
We forward in this generation
Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
‘Cause all I ever have
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds
Have no fear for atomic energy
‘Cause none of them can stop the time
How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look? Ooh
Some say it’s just a part of it
We’ve got to fulfill the Book
Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
‘Cause all I ever have