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Nigeria, not the wretched of the earth

By Chioma Gabriel

Recently, Nigeria topped as the country with largest number of people living in extreme poverty behind India. A report by the World Poverty Clock said extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by six people every minute, the highest number in the world. The survey showed that Nigeria had an estimated 87 million people in extreme poverty compared to India’s 73 million.

India on the other hand, is witnessing a decline in its level of extreme poverty. With the report, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) bid  to end extreme poverty by 2030 may be unattainable even as Africa faces major population increase.

According to the UN, by 2050 around 2.2 billion people could be added to the global population and more than half of that growth will come from Africa.

The report also predicted that Nigeria will become the world’s third largest country by then.

The World Poverty Clock report also stated that of the 10 countries on this extreme poverty list, only Ethiopia is on track to meet the United Nations’ SDG of ending extreme poverty by 2030.

This UN report didn’t end there.

Just a day before her visit to Nigeria, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May said 87 million Nigerians live on less than $1.90 a day, making the country home to more very poor people than any other nation in the world.

The British PM was hosted by President Muhammadu Buhari the following day at the State House, Abuja but she made her statement in South Africa, according to the UK government.

Her statement which was published on the UK government website stated the world’s poorest people are Africans.

As much Nigeria is thriving; May insisted that with many individuals enjoying the fruits of a resurgent economy, yet 87 million Nigerians live on less than $1.90 a day.

Nigerians were not surprised by the UNDP report, neither were they surprised at Theresa May. They were telling Nigerians what they already know and what they were already saying even before Nigeria entered recession.

They were saying what Nigerians already know going by the number of the unemployed youths and the number of people losing their jobs every year. They were saying what Nigerians already know by the fact that the middle class has disappeared from Nigeria’s economic lexicon. It is now a few rich people and a majority poor.

So, the UN and Theresa May were not breaking news to us.

Nigerians are passing through the valley of the shadow of death because of extreme poverty. Yet, there are a few rich people who looted their way to wealth, stealing Nigeria’s tax-payers money and rubbing their stolen wealth on our faces.

Under the circumstances, the Buhari regime claimed it has embarked on massive construction projects and social investment programmes that it believes would lift millions out of poverty.

How many Nigerians have been lifted? Aren’t things getting worse by the day?

The truth is, I have not seen any beneficiary neither has the motley of very poor around benefitted.

The fallout of the grave poverty in the land is that Nigerian politicians are maximizing this poverty to advantage. They have capitalized on the poverty of the people to be buying their votes. They have used the poverty of the masses to entice them with their stolen money and after selling it, the masses will not have the right or moral justification to say anything when things go wrong because they have sold their votes. They have sold their conscience due to abject poverty. The wretchedness of the people has driven them to the extreme.

Only in Africa, the Dark Continent has poverty established its capital. It’s such a shame that it was UK which colonized us that is telling us how bad we have fared.

In his essay, “On National Culture” published in The Wretched of the Earth,  Frantz Fanon sets out to define how a national culture can emerge among the formerly l colonized nations of Africa., Fanon argued a national culture should be built on the material resistance of a people against colonial domination.

But do we have the liver to do that?

Our colonizers are writing the history of a colonized people as one of “barbarism, degradation, and bestiality” in order to justify the supremacy of western civilization.

But not to worry, the colonized people need to return to their so-called ‘barbaric’ culture, to prove their existence and their value in relation to the West.

I think it is now too late for UK to convince the Nigerian that it would save them from darkness.  Nigeria has manned up.

Nigerians are done with British colonialism. We don’t want to address the oppressor anymore. We will begin addressing our own people.

Our wretchedness is the outcome of being colonized by Britain. When the student has not learnt, the teacher has not taught. It was what Britain taught us that landed us to where we are. But as bad as it seems, Nigerians should not lose hope.

Levons-nous et reconstruisons le Nigeria. (Lets rise up and rebuild Nigeria)



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