Corruption and Poverty: A nation losing it soul

March 21, 2019 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS




Awesu Olaniyi Williams



Being Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa isn’t a ticket out of poverty – even though these are the largest ethnic groups that make up the Nigerian demography.


While many advanced economies have certain social safety nets to help their citizens cushion the effect of a dwindling economy, from child support to free medical care amongst others, those of us in Nigeria do not have this luxury. However, it is sad to consistently read stories about in-fighting between Yorubas and Igbo in Lagos. Whilst Indigeneship differs from Citizenship within the Nigerian context, it is important to note that, rather than fighting each other, we should be fighting the system that makes us all poor.


Nigerians are getting poorer by the day. Students are being churned out daily from our institutions although a large portion of them are poorly trained to meet the needs of the outside world. Yet, we the masses who are at the lowest rung of the social ladder are locked in a battle of supremacy. Tell me, who has gone to Oshodi market or Onitsha market after declaring they are Yoruba or Igbo and got their goods for free? Even in Freetown nothing goes for free.


It is easy to point accusing fingers, one tribe versus another, we can say the Fulani or Hausas are the hegemonic power responsible for the dwindling economy. Accuse all you care, but what is the fate of an average northern child with no access to education, a willing tool in the ends of poverty, an extremist fertile ground?


Instead of us pointing accusing fingers and holding our potbellied politicians accountable, those who have turned their bellies into store house of Commonwealth, those who steal pensions from our parents, making them a carcass of bones in retirement and those who buy flashy cars and have a home abroad without their government salaries and grade level supporting their lifestyle; we salute them and throw out drums to celebrate, their fat folding necks decorated with chieftaincy titles. We urge them on. It’s our time to eat from the national cake. We delude ourselves – he is from my village we numb our conscience.


Sadly, we do not see the correlation between the corrupt politicians and public servants and the emptiness of drugs and other services in our clinics. We do not see the connection between perpetual striking institutions with poor workforce and output of our graduates. Corruption is a termite that feeds fat on the conscience of a nation. We legitimise the madness of greed and avarice with the song of turn by turn. All major indices are pointing to a Nigerian doomsday scenario, yet we glory in a sad report that only Lagos and Ogun state can generate enough funds outside the federation account.


Thirteen million children out of school. The poverty capital of the world, displacing India with her enormous population in the process.


May our land find healing, but before then, we have a lot of redemption work to do.





Awesu Olaniyi Williams

Awesu Olaniyi is an award winning, Nigerian born public speaker, freelance writer and education advocate/volunteer with Slum2school Africa who his intrigued by the intersectional role between journalism, democracy and public enlightenment. 

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