Why Are Nigerians Violent And Poor?

According to the oxford dictionary, Poverty refers to “the state of being poor”. Poverty is a phenomenon that is as old as humanity, and like Jesus said ” the poor ye have always with you…”  ( Bible quotes).  The poor have continued to remain with us like the hair on our heads. And, in our contemporary world, they have multiplied in numerous folds.

“…Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. And overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of Justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom…” ( Nelson Mandela; address titled ‘make poverty history’; 2005).

A true introspection of poverty will reveal to the inquisitive mind that poverty is not just the lack of material wealth, rather, the individual cannot also acquire knowledge on the production of material wealth. In essence, poverty is not the lack of food, shelter, or clothes, it is the lack of mental rightness to create them. The continent of Africa has been the most affected in this regard. The continent, being a product of European conception, has been cavernous in the conundrum of poverty. 

This article takes an insight into Africa’s most populated country; Nigeria, and seeks to explain how the country has degenerated into the ‘poverty capital of the world’. The contending factors and causes of this quagmire, while also offering prospective solutions to solving the problem of poverty. 

Nigeria is a big country. In terms of human and natural resources, it boasts fertile soil for growing crops, crude oil, limestone, iron ore, coal, and natural gas to mention a few. Her population is also considered to be one of the most versatile in the world, producing several leaders and captains of industries in all works of life. The enormous potential of this country accorded it the maxim ‘giant of Africa’. 

Sadly, this so-called ‘giant’ has been asleep for too long, and the ‘tsetse fly’ causing her trypanosomiasis is none other than poverty. And not just poverty but the poverty of the mind. In 2020, Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics estimated that ‘40% of Nigerians live in poverty, amounting to 83 million people. It further predicted that the number would likely increase to ’90  million in 2022’ (Stephen Onyeiwu; Nigeria’s poverty profile is grim…). 

While these statistics are grim and alarming indeed, one aspect that most writers, public commentators, and political analysts have failed to address is the phenomenon of the ‘poverty of the mind’, which to a large extent, has resulted in the penury that majority of Nigerians are enslaved in today. This point is further explained by this quote from Worldrenew on understanding the poverty of the mind: 

“…Worldview is the grid by which we evaluate all of reality. Poverty is a mindset or worldview problem more than an economic problem. When people are poor they don’t have a full sense of their human dignity. Then, they let themselves be exploited by the rich and powerful, to accept that the rich have the right to be leaders and that it is fine for a rich country to take the resources of a poor country…that the poor deserve to be in jail when they commit a crime, while the rich deserve to be pardoned…” 

I had a lengthy conversation with a friend from Borno state, Northeast Nigeria. It was an incisive discussion, as we delved into the challenges of Nigeria, the Northeast, and Borno state In particular. Although the whole conversation was endearing, one statement he made, stuck with me. He said, “the poor man has no sense of his own, he cannot think beyond his belly and immediate gratification, hence, rather than hate his oppressors, he falls in love with them”. 

The poverty of the mind, therefore, is not the absence of education, it is the inability to assess situations, problems, and challenges with logical solutions, free from religious, ethnic, and political prejudices. Many Nigerians are educated. The reader should understand that schooling is different from education. As the latter encompasses formal and informal modes of learning, while the latter involves going to a classroom to receive western education. Nigerians’ education differs, in the sense that in the southern part of the country ‘formal’ education is predominant as against theological or ‘Islamic’ education in the North.  However, the two have similar outcomes; they program many individuals with sentiments rather than facts so much that logic is thrown away. It is this lacuna that religious extremists, ethnic bigots, and warmongers have capitalized on, in recent times.  

The example of the ‘Asian tigers’ and Japan is relevant at this juncture. These east Asian countries, apart from adopting an education system premised on meritocracy and ‘selecting the best from the best, created economic and education policies that enabled young school leavers to be recruited into government agencies of economy, trade, and industry. To use what they have learned to go engender rapid development. 

In Nigeria today, the education young Nigerians are exposed to is the one that enables violence, bigotry, and chauvinism. This position is further corroborated by a Twitter user named ” @gimbakakanda. It is no surprise that the country has continued, over the last decade, the battle against insurgency in various forms, ranging from terrorism, banditry, and bigotry to secession and warmongers. 

Moving forward, the Nigerian people have to resolve to put an end to this anomaly. First, they have to make use of their votes to select right-thinking leaders, who are logical, objective, and rational thinkers themselves, not charlatans or conmen. Those leaders, if selected, would, in turn, create the political mechanisms and relevant policies that would ensure that education in Nigeria is accessible to all and also purposeful towards nation-building, growth, and development.

Furthermore, education should be prioritized, children are sensitized and socialized by what they hear, see and feel. The Nigerian government’s budgetary allocation for education needs to be reconsidered, in a bid to increase the government’s commitment to Education. Lastly, I would end this call to action with a quote from Africa’s political icon; Nelson Mandela: 

“as long as poverty, injustice, and gross inequality exist in our world, none of us can truly rest”

Hey, I am on Twitter! Follow me @danielshaibu01 for more thrilling articles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *