Plea for weak economic players
Nigeria’s presidential election had come and gone but the weak economic players who in the aggregate, strive to keep the economy going outside the outliers – the oligarchs and oil money swindlers – remain greatly depressed and weakened by the election as seen in most market places. Even in some places they are afraid of showing up for their trades. Before the election I tried to survey the minds of some of these weak economic operators and discovered that most of them were just listening and echoing out what their oligarchic leaders or radio broadcasters were relating to them in the language they hear better. However, I came face to face with that reality at Yaba, close to a railway crossing at an intersection of street market people – mostly women –, money sellers – that is, informal bureau d’échange operators –, curtain traders and curtain sewers and packagers. The election seemed to have been decided in that arena. While most of the women – street marketers – were undecided and feigned unconcerned about the election, the men in all sides were greatly concerned and were airing their views openly – for or against one of the presidential aspirants – and it reflected at the end. The curtain traders and the money sellers remain delights to watch. Their trade was not allowed to suffer. They poked funs and traded insults as well as cooperated to see that their trades thrive. Some people came to buy curtain or trade money or even do both. None of the small economic players overreached themselves as the customers showed up; they received them and directed them appropriately to the appropriate persons to serve them without worrying from which ethnic group or political bias they were inclined to. It shows how making the economic work can reduce tension.
Visiting that intersection as at Saturday 02-03-2019, after the election, it looked a deserted place as the economic activities witnessed before the election seemed to have gone with the election. I am yet to understand fully what was happening to such a place that was a beehive of small scale economic activities. My interpretation was that Nigeria’s economy is still stimulated by oligarchs and oil money swindlers who are partners with professional politicians – emphasis, professonal politicians or are even operating as both. So, possibly, until the State governorships’ elections are over, small scale economic operators will be in the doldrums; and even those who survive it could have their capital completely depleted or erased. In effect, people should wake up against such attitude in Nigeria that ought to lead other Africans to present a better leadership brand for Africa.
For sixteen years PDP ruled Nigeria under selected “chop-I-chop” elite groups; notwithstanding OBJ selective “pick, bark, bite and shame” approach that landed people like Alamasieyga, Evans and Ige to a General’s desire of “L’Etat c’est moi” – I am the state, the state is me, so deal with anyone, law or no law. It, also, continued with those who barely survived but remained greatly dainted like Atiku, Ibori, Wabara, etc. Just like it could happen even now as the elections go on.
APC is on its ¼ of 16 years or ½ of its 8 assured – years and exhibits a mixture of Marxist, oligarch and feudalist governance. Quite confusing for many Nigerians but trusted by the suffering masses as having a leader who could banish all their perceived rich enemies who are also Nigerians. This is where Nigerians should hold APC to do what Dilma Yussef and her godfather Lula da Silva did for Brazil notwithstanding whatever was perceived to be their shortcoming as corruption remained glaring in Brazil during their rein even when they intended to banish it. They were able to lift millions of Brazilians out of poverty including Afro-Brazilians; and I noticed that in Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte where artisans thrive in their works and found fulfillment in their trades.
Nigeria, as at today, is the capital of world poverty, parading over 100 million people living below poverty level of less than $2 a day. It is not the making of the poor Nigerians as they are capable of proving that they can work and earn money without being handed meal ticket or begging kits. All it takes is to upgrade facilities and create infrastructure development working sites to put them at work. Graduates are produced in large numbers every year in Nigeria; and for a sincere government they could all be placed in evolvable jobs; or prop-up entrepreneurial minded ones could be raised to lead in job creation duties like China is doing as a Marxist country or like Russia is doing in its new drive of Mono-Towns with Oligarchs manning each of the town on what product is mass produceable as economically advantage produceable product in a world that sources component parts from different towns or countries, for just one identifiable functional end product.
The multi-sourcing activities put more people at work and relieve them from thinking of their perceived rich enemies which could never be banished in a world that had never accepted in toto the communist approach of collective ownership of land and production processes for an equitable means of wealth distribution. Poverty – relative one – can never be banished as it is still not banishable in China; and corruption can never be decreed out of existence as Russia has never succeeded in doing that; and as great powers support tax heavens found in great Islands of this world, poor countries needed to encourage their rich ones to invest in their countries. Nigeria, please wake-up for the clarion call of saving Africa from extinction caused by stupidity.
•Ariole, is Professor of French and Francophone Studies , wrote from University of Lagos.
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