By Salisu Yusuf
Saturday, the 21st of August, 2021, marks a black day in our march towards achieving social equilibrium among Nigeria’s two social classes: the poor and the elites. The picture on social and conventional media of President Buhari, former President Jonathan, Atiku Abubakar, Femi Fani-Kayode, etc., dining, laughing, exchanging banter, posing for the camera at Bichi speaks volumes on the future of the masses in Nigeria.
On the one hand, these men would quarrel, argue and set their followers against each other just to win elections. But, on the other hand, they shower elitist solidarity to one another when anyone in the circle is celebrating or mourning. Alas, it’s the poor who’s socially excluded even though it’s through him they rode to power.
While the glitz and glamour were going on at Bichi and Aso Villa, in Batsari, Danmusa and many palaces, people are running for their lives; some are bereaving the dead ones. Moreover, many are abducted by bandits. For example, over 150 Islamiyya students from Attagina (Tegina) in Niger State were, for months, in captivity. Six died, including a three-year-old boy. What do you think if these children belong to the upper class? It’s high time our politicians show class, empathy and maturity.
Today, Nigeria represents every aspect of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” says the satiric work! Clover, one of the most loyal and hardworking characters, symbolises the Nigerian poor. For the poor is the only symbol of loyalty and toil to the Nigerian state like Clover. Clover’s realisation toward the end of the novel of betrayal of the so-called revolution depicts the current sad reality:” if she herself had any picture of the future, it had been a society of animals set free from hunger and the whips, all equal, each working according to his capacity, the strong protecting the weak.”
Photos of the number of jets grounded at Aminu Kano International Airport on social media depicts the sad reality. On the one hand, it reveals the massive gap between the elites and the poor. But, on the other hand, it reveals the security situation in the country and why our elites are reluctant to address it; they travel on planes, we travel by road, where kidnappers set up roadblocks.
From the wedding scene, receptions, the phones distributed, to Abuja where the bride is conveyed, the glamour exhibited reflects how far we’ve regressed to the version of 18th-century capitalist Britain and its attendant ‘Enclosure System’. Oliver Goldsmith sums up our predicament in his famous ‘The Deserted Village’ when he says, ” to see profusion one cannot share, to see ten thousand baneful arts combined.. to pamper luxury and thin mankind.”
Today, there are designated federal parastatals and ministries such as Petroleum, Finance, CBN, Federal Inland Revenue, etc., where the children of the poor can’t work; for them, these covetous places are uncharted territories. They’re meant for the rich.
Today, our leaders are attributed with everything elitist and why elitism represents. One salient legacy our man will be remembered is his earnest response to elites’ birthdays. They’re the hallmarks of elitism because they’re the only group who celebrate it. However, a poor isn’t after birthdays; he contends with his security and daily bread in a hostile socio-economic environment. Thus, he neither gets the bread nor feels secured; he’s barred from farming by a group that catches him and demands a ransom from his low-income family members who are too hungry to pay.
Sadly, the so-called ardent supporters couldn’t differentiate between sad reality and fantasy. Those who sometimes cried in the past, when we were in the new normal, can’t cry now when the new not normal sets in. We’re besieged from every angle of our home. The attack on the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) this week is the last straw…the definition of Nigeria and what it symbolises: chaos.
The government has so far mastered the art of rhetoric. They can rhetorically speak in the language the criminals understand; but can’t speak in the language the Talakawa understand: that provides the basic social services.
Never in the history of politics in Nigeria has a political figure garnered so much goodwill and solidarity from the poor like President Buhari. But, alas, the goodwill and the solidarity aren’t reciprocated. A conscientious man can’t sleep soundly when his subjects are daily hunted like dogs. Those poor masses who toil and sweat…
As for now, the hope of the poor is so slim, for hunger, bandits, and elites besiege him.
Salisu Yusuf writes from Katsina. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.