Sunday, April 22, 2012

Nigeria richer, its people poorer

Poverty in Nigeria is rising with almost 100 million people living on less than $1 a day, yet the country's economy is said to be growing at more than 7% annually.  What a mismatch.
The percentage of Nigerians living in absolute poverty - those who can afford only the bare essentials of food, shelter and clothing - rose to 60.9 percent in 2010, compared with 54.7 percent in 2004, according to a Reuters report.
Chief (Thief) James Ibori
Even Nigeria's Statistician General, Yemi Kale, is perplexed by the situation.  "It remains a paradox ... that despite the fact that the Nigerian economy is growing, the proportion of Nigerians living in poverty is increasing every year," he told journalists in Abuja recently.
But are we surprised that the situation is so with leaders like James Ibori all over the states in Nigeria. The former Delta state governor is just one out of many.
Okey Ndibe, a journalist and professor, puts it rightly in one of his latest articles when he stated that "to look at what Ibori stole from his impoverished, pauperized people is to be bewildered. But why allow oneself to be obsessed with that fact? To dwell on Ibori alone is to risk forgetting that Nigeria is overrun by festering legions, mutants of the Ibori idea.
Even as the English judge pronounces his sentence on the former governor of Delta State, these clones of Ibori are hard at work. They are doing the exact things that catapulted their fellow into the dock in the UK, and they are doing them often with more fervor."
Chief (Thief) Bode George
I bet you Ibori will be given a grand reception by PDP when its jail term expires.  The committee for his Reception/Thanksgiving Service may even have been put in place. Remember Bode George and razzmatazz that greeted his release from Kirikiri.  Today he boasts that he will lead PDP to wrestle Western Nigeria out of the hand of ACN. Should people like George still be in our politics today? But alas he is a of PDP kingmaker.
Who will save Nigeria, a country that boasts it wants to be a leader in science and technology, yet what half of our 109 senators get in a year is more that the national budget for science and technology.
I have been invited to a conference holding tomorrow at Harvard University with the theme 'The Future of Nigeria'.  I wonder what the speakers will say.  With rising poverty in the midst of plenty, Boko Haram, and public servants who loot with effrontery as is the case with the ongoing Pension Fund scandal, I guess there is plenty to talk about and certainly plenty to do.  I sure will be there to hear Ambassador Adefuye, Walter Carrington and others.

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