The Oasis Reporters
September 17, 2019
My friend, Ken Agala tagged me to a post that had a picture of a business class flying pre-teen boy having an in-flight meal. The caption of the post read “#Onlylooted funds make (sic) this possible?”
Now, here’s the drift.
The boy’s parents must be looters, if not, how on earth could they have afforded a business class ticket for their son ?
That was the intended assumption.
Amazingly, those in support of the intention on the thread, were legion. Those who disagreed with the caption’s sentiment where few and far in between.
Here’s why Ken drew my attention to this post.
Shortly after the 2015 Presidential election, in one of those WhatsApp groups we tend to get added to, someone posted a picture of a bathroom; jacuzzi, toilet seat and shower cabin, with a caption that read something like “see how the thieves that looted our commonwealth live!”
What followed was a WhatsApp group lynching; invectives, outright curses, virtual stoning and missiles. Others rained fire, brimstone, hell and eternal damnation on the poor owner of the bathroom.
For daring to splurge on such opulence, just for a “bathroom” and toilet. They all seemed to agree that only a looter will not appreciate the cost.
The more I read the anger generated by this picture, the more I feared for my life around members of the group.
Why, you may ask.
Because at the time, my bathroom was far better than the one whose owner was being virtually lynched for such “ostentatious” living. I had to quickly call Ken who told me to ignore them and quietly reduce my participation in the group.
But why should I walk on eggshells around these people? I am neither a politician nor a government functionary. At best, I will be considered a middle-class Nigerian, never looted government or anyone’s funds, studied and worked extremely hard all my life, still work and study extremely hard till today.
And I must concede that others work and study as hard but that providence has been good to me. However this does not takeaway my right to do what I please with my legitimately earned income, provided it does to violate another’s rights.
The irony is that I doubt that the cost of this bathroom will get me an “Ozo” (or the lower Ajalija) title in my hometown. It definitely cannot get me a Local Government Chairmanship or a seat in the State House of Assembly. Yet those who detest the owner of the bathroom and label him / her a looter will probably celebrate the chiefs in their village, eulogize their Local Government Chairman and “dobale” (prostrate) before their House of Assembly members.
As far as they are concerned, anyone who can afford such “luxury” must have looted the people’s commonwealth.
From the post Ken tagged me to, it is clear that this sentiment extends to anyone whose child flies business class.
I did not fail to point out on that thread that some employees have annual vacation business class tickets for their families as part of their employment contracts. So I asked, “does that make them looters if their children fly business class that their industry and official status entitles them to?”
Can the people making these disparaging remarks even conceive that others can become affluent through industry and legitimate means?
This reminds me of Aliko Dangote’s courtesy call on President Michael Sata in Lusaka, circa late 2011 or early 2012.
When one of Sata’s aides whispered to him that Aliko is the richest man in Africa, Sata bellowed to the chagrin of those around him, “who told him he is the richest man in Africa? Who did he ever work for to earn that kind of money?”
With a poverty of ideas and that of the pocket, some people tend to view the potentials of others through the limitations of their own anorexic and atrophied horizon. Any wealth beyond what they can possibly conceive can only be a product of looting.
So this is our clear and present danger.
With Nigeria’s multidimensional poverty increasing in Geometric progression, our mass of impoverished individuals threaten the very existence of the successful few.
The price the few successful ones have to pay is that they and their families are in the best case labelled looters, and worst case, kidnapped for ransom, or randomly singled out and killed as a sign of protest.
As far as the masses are concerned, the few business class flying, Jacuzzi owning Nigerians are the ones who have looted the nation’s commonwealth and deprived the masses of their rightful place in society.
People are no longer safe in the land. It will get to a point when people will be afraid to be publicly successful lest they be singled out as a symbol of the oppressing class and butchered.
We have already annihilated the culture of education by being told by our judiciary that our degrees and certificates no longer matter. Now the culture of hard work is under threat.
Omoyele Sowore called for a revolution, but failed to realize that one is upon us already.
This revolution will see and celebrate the purloining politicians, carpetbaggers and big men who live behind their Mopol protected fortresses.
Unfortunately, the same revolution will sweep away the unprotected few legit Nigerians that work hard to live a normal life, simply because they own Jacuzzis and their children fly business class.
We need to address this deification of poverty. It is killing the culture of hard work and our country by extension. The killings have so far been a slow and painful arsenic death. If not checked, it will accelerate into a vicious and violent purge.
Don’t for a moment think that you will be spared.
When some people justify the current economic hardship in Nigeria with “it is because there is no more free money”, note that it is not because corruption has been curbed.
We all know that this is far from it.
That statement is driven from a deep dark place of self hate.
For most who say this, the current state of the economy has impoverished their kinsmen who used to do better than them, essentially a regularization of penury and impoverishment.
The nonsensical “It is because there is no more free money” is a deification of poverty, a crab-mentality schadenfreude, and a harebrained absurdity that seeks to normalize multidimensional poverty for all Nigerians.
Written by Dr. Jekwu Ozoemene.
One time Managing Director, Access Bank (Zambia) Ltd.