Unless the Nigerian Government starts making immediate changes towards remedying the social divide between rich and poor Nigerians, bad things will continue to get worse
Nigeria is the most populous country In West Africa with more than 160 million people residing there. It is also the 12th largest producer of crude oil in the world and the 8th largest exporter. Nigeria also has the 10th largest proven reserves of petroleum worldwide and this plays a very important role in the country’s economy. Home to the second-largest producers of movies in the world, it’s a surprise that most of Nigeria’s population live below the poverty line.
Unfortunately, due to persistent social inequality in reference to class the growth of the Nigerian economy seems to have no positive effect on the lower class. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
The corruption existent in the government allowed a political class of elites to be formed with the intent of protecting the interests of their members and to gain as much money and power as possible to feed the pockets of those within this class. The consequence of all this is that it is very unlikely that a lower-class citizen will ever be able to break into the political structure and bring about a change that will benefit and help the poor thereby improving the country as a whole.
The reason for this is that regardless of gaining a higher education and graduating with a commendable degree, or even setting up schemes to help your local area, without the sponsorship of a ‘well-known and respected’ individual within the chosen industry, the probability of getting a job in the political sphere is slim.
Additionally, there are cases where governors in certain states who should have been rounded up for presidency due to their exceptional and outstanding track records — based on various improvements made in the states that they governed — were denied the chance due to the selfishness of the ruling political class.
Rivers State is the largest producer of oil in Nigeria and was also the first state where oil was discovered. Despite the billions of dollars that have been acquired by the federal government and oil companies operating in the area, the desperate situation found in this state is beyond human comprehension. A question that keeps arising is: how can a state that is so rich in natural resources be so steeped in poverty?
It is shocking that those states which do not possess the density of wealth that Rivers has live a better life than its own inhabitants. Additionally, it is paradoxical that in the midst of such wealth there is no access to healthcare, education, electricity or gas. Furthermore, the main source of income which is found in the rivers has been interrupted and cut off due to the various oil spillages that have occurred over the years. Another worrying problem comes from the air pollution caused by the constant gas flaring and the fumes produced in the factories; most residents close to these places are affected greatly and end up developing health complications.
How can these residents get effective help when there is a limitation on the healthcare available? Much needs to be done to address the social inequality in Nigeria that results in this kind of unimaginable suffering, despair and hopelessness. One of the last spates of kidnapping that rocked this Niger-Delta area was due to the frustration felt by the youths as a result of the neglect suffered by the local population. The increase in other criminal activities such as advance fee fraud, a.k.a. ‘419’, money laundering, armed robbery etc., is primarily due to the fact that one must keep body and soul together by whatever means available — even if they are criminal.
I believe the Federal Government of Nigeria should look seriously into this situation before it spirals out of control. Continual social inequality is a proven ticking time-bomb just waiting to explode.