By Idris Yana
As is usual with Nigerian cyberspace, the wedding of Yusuf Buhari and Zarah Bayero has sparked yet another trend of varied opinions. From pre-wedding pictures to the statehouse dinner – which hopefully marked the end of weeks of grandeur events – each gathering left behind a trail for criticism or praise. Given the number of these varied opinions the wedding has generated, I have attempted to deviate from commenting on its rights and wrongs.
As a keen observer of Nigeria’s evolution since the return to democracy in 1999 and a privileged citizen who witnessed the country’s pre-1999 socio-economy, one thing that is inevitably noticeable is the vast evolving gap that separates the haves and the have-nots. Election into political offices has become a lifeboat that rescues few people from the sinking ship that carries Nigerian masses. On the one hand, these politicians succeeded in blending in an elite circle that was hitherto formed by the military personnel (generally retired); civil servants, whose share of national cake from Heaven; contractors (and every Nigerian knows what this means); and few legitimate business moguls. But, on the other hand, the explosive downtrodden population continues to sink into the abyss of poverty.
The widening gap between these two classes has created a cause for concern. As the elite, in most cases, carelessly flaunt their expensive lifestyle to the envious eyes of the poverty-stricken majority, this has begun to breed resentment in the hearts of the majority of the latter. This resentment is gradually increasing whenever an event like Yusuf and Zarah’s wedding takes place.
Elitism in all cultures is real and inevitable. Since time immemorial, societies have always been divided along this line. What distinguishes Nigeria’s current situation is the circumstance and extent to which these class differences are expressed. In a country where the level of poverty, and its attendant consequences, is glaring, the reckless flamboyance must be done with caution. This is especially important when poverty-induced (in)security crises are on the rise.
The poor and forgotten should also not allow self-pity to make them wallow in destitution. In most cases, they are the ones who made these overnight elites by electing them to the privileged offices. They can change that by holding them accountable for their responsibilities. Another way is by defining what they want from these politicians. Electing people based on primordial sentiments or personal aggrandisement must stop. Most importantly, people must understand that they are the architects of their future.
Idris Yana writes from Exeter, United Kingdom. He can be reached via email@example.com or @Idrisyana (Twitter).