Nigeria’s wealth must reflect on its people

In a viable community, state, nation or country, one person’s money is everybody’s money. This is why governments want to oversee their people’s income, spending and movement of cash. This is how the issue of money laundering arises. One person’s property is everybody’s property. One person’s poverty is every body’s poverty. One person’s handicap is every body’s handicap.
Furthermore, the death of a member is the partial death of the whole. Government is there to see that a system that ensures that things go round, especially money, is there. But in this respect governments in Nigeria, unlike other places, has never been alive to its responsibility. This is where it is most irresponsible.  Emeka Ojukwu canvassed this theory during Biafra in one of his famous speeches. Since this was his attitude as the leader, Biafra had to succeed up to a point. I saw the sense in it. That is how those who have made a success of statecraft and nationhood have always looked at it.
Let’s emphasize it here. This is the only essence of coming together as Nigeria. If people can jolly well do their own things, what’s the heck coming together? Is it not for mutual assistance that the family (of any size) was created?  And that is the ideology that has put advanced countries where they are. It is what can help Nigeria overcome its numerous problems. Nothing more! In companies and organizations, the moment the body is rich and the members are poor, they are heading for trouble. I have always rationalized that the trouble with Nigeria is that the country is rich and its people are poor. At times its people are very rich and the country is poor, like nowadays. You cannot be the rich leader of a poor people, or the poor leader of rich people. Let us recall here that hopeless idea of a ‘servant leader’, which is untrue, ridiculous and deception per excellence. No one can be a servant and a leader as well. You must be one.
There are two main aspects to a group – the members and the body. If the condition of one does not reflect on the other, it signifies that that group is terminally sick. It happens in the family. It happens in the churches and industries. It happens in every social unit. Poverty and riches in extremes in one single body does not bode well for anybody. It will not work. It destroys amity, concord and harmony. When a country is rich, every member or citizen of it ought to be rich. It is illogical that a country is rich and most members of it are poor. So are rich leaders of poor people unacceptable. But our society at all levels is trying very had at these impossibilities, which is why the way forward everywhere is difficult.
If you look closely at the problems of this country, you will see they are related to how its money, resources and values are applied to cover all the needs, reach its entire people and solve concrete problems. That capacity is simply not there to distribute what is available, not to talk of distributing it equitably. To my mind, this should have been the first job of any new president, before any other thing else. Anybody that comes to power who does not address this fundamental flaw has missed it all. There is nothing he can do to get any other thing right subsequently.
For this I am suspicious how this president is faring, from the way he has been going. I think he has yet to start. The first step forward is the problem. The first steps have been wrong and have been disastrous for everybody. He cannot find that first critical step and take it. We are waiting. We have no choice. We are soon going to the polls to choose another driver. The driver at the steering must drive us to the end. No matter how treacherous the valley on our way, he must drive. That’s the reality. That’s no enviable task. His age, sorry, is now an issue, which he said it would not be. Jonathan saw the sharks and ran as far as his legs could carry him – the famous concession of defeat. He is cool where he is, thanking God for the soft landing and emergency exit. The person who runs into where angels fear to thread has himself and nobody to blame.
The talk everywhere is how to deal with corruption. I personally wonder how this can be done without people of the country learning afresh how to use money. Money is used here to show off so that people will respect the one spending. People should rather be impressed by the way money is wisely and prudently used in our society. A Nigerian multi-billionaire wants to buy Arsenal Football Club in England, we were informed. What does the government say about this profligacy and showing off with the people’s money he is in custody of? In this connection, the Nigerian government is like a man in rags, starving, without a roof over his head and suffering all kinds of indignities with other members of his family. They are poor. One rich child of theirs plans to buy an expensive airplane, to fly him about. The father says nothing. The question is: is that the best use for that money for that rich member of a poor family, in the circumstance?
Will that family not advise against that expenditure or stop it, arguing that the money be rather invested in the general well being of the family? The family will be right to claim that the money for the plane is part of family resources and should be used to attend to the family’s priority needs. First things first! If this suggestion is not accepted, it is the height of indiscipline which the family should not condone. It does not urgur well for any community that a sense of community is not exhibited by every member. The community must reject any member using resources selfishly and extravagantly without this very sense of community guiding his conduct, especially spending habit. This is the problem with Nigeria that its leaders have unfortunately never been aware of. That the money, no matter in who’s keeping it is, is every body’s money in the community or country. This is hard to swallow for the rich who are the leaders. But a country is nothing but a system of controls and organization that either by compulsion, pleading or persuasion takes everybody along to achieve the end of individual and collective happiness, through the sensible use of all resources available.
The right of individuals to wealth cannot be tampered with. But it is imperative to check recklessness, waste, selfishness and greed that may affect the attainment of public good or injure public interest in any way. Laws taking care of this are a proof that everybody’s interest and wellbeing matter to those in authority in a country. People will be made to imbibe the culture of utilizing national resources responsibly. Using money and resources in the national interest is the bedrock of patriotism. This is the type of discipline this government can pursue, not the one about being in line.
You can as well look at the buying of the Football Club as carrying coal to Newcastle, which only a foolish man or country would do. What is the motivation? It is either profit or prestige. It is only a Nigerian who will carry a few buckets of water to add to the sea that makes no difference to the content of the sea. All he wants to do is to queue up among those who have made money. However, his money was gathered from wretched people’s upkeep back home and taken to people who are overfed and have more than enough to play around with, including giving us development aid which we still spend and not use.
Nigeria’s wealth has reverted to the wealth of a very few people. Those presiding over the country now want to recover the wealth for the society in the name of fighting corruption. I don’t think corruption can be fought that way. It is like sweeping water uphill, which will flow back again.
If they succeed in doing anything about corruption in this dispensation, in another dispensation people will try to dispossess the country again and take over the wealth and buy things like a football club abroad when the roofs here are leaking and everywhere is in tatters. The possessing and repossessing of Nigeria’s wealth between the state and individuals has been a cycle no one knows when it will end. As for punishing corrupt people in this country, bear in mind that everybody will be in prison when this is done. Doing this is like bringing out all the fish in the seas. You can’t. The corrupt ones are too many. Everybody may have that tendency. That makes the problem hydra-headed, like boko haram. The more you go the more they come. The surprise of the citizen however will continue to be that Nigeria is rich, why am I not? I cannot be poor when my country is rich, he will demand, which translates to his corruption. This is the riddle, enigma, the conundrum, the puzzle and the brainteaser for Nigerian leaders, presidents, heads of state, all such and ordinary people as well who genuinely want corruption to go away. We must all begin from there, to get it right. People must not be left alone to sort themselves out on this question. Government must help.