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Memo to the Nigerian aristocrat/middle class

Dear Nigerian Aristo/Middle Class Yuppie/Yummie. Yes you. In that glistening car. You, who live in those resplendent houses, whom your children attend the most expensive schools where they pay huge amounts in dollars every term. Yes you. You know, that I know, that there is a game plan. I am a follower of patterns. Or are you not in the know? Ok, in case you’ve been left out of the loop, out of the grand plan, and you simply find yourself coasting along, with huge amounts making their way into your bank account unaided, let me offer to tell you what’s going on. Then I will ask in the end, where this is all leading to?

Did you notice the amazing houses, or rather mansions, springing up in many Nigerian cities today, especially in the GRAs or exclusive estates where you and your type live? Are those in tandem with the mood of the nation, or the sign of the times? OK, your wives and children are living far better than they would, in Europe or America, and their fear is just that no one upsets their shiny little apple cart. You have somehow shut in your conscience. You don’t see, even when you look. Your environment, outside the serenity of your wonderful, plush estate, with a coterie of servants dashing about, has become a blur to you. For you, dear Aristo, it’s all about golf clubs, dinners at exclusive clubs, champagnes at even more exclusive lounges, fast cars, faster women, expensive travels… You don’t get it, but you must get it!

It may not be you, but do you know that your neighbour, that civil servant, yes that one, who just completed the beautiful estate with ten duplexes and 20 flats at the back, was one of those who stole N3.3 Trillion from the pensions of dying old men and women, who, after diligently serving their country, now live in hunger and anger, begging to get their little stipends paid. They actually saved that money, as a portion was taken out of their salary while they worked. How could you be comfortable living next to that heartless vermin, even trying to make friends with him because you only roll with the rich? Do you know that if he is to be visited with the wrath of God for all the souls he destroyed, even you and yours will be affected?

Have you noticed, dear Aristo/Middle Class, that the lives of your servants/staff are becoming more and more difficult?  Have you increased their salaries commensurately or have you told them to bugger off if they are not satisfied? Does your lovely wife pay the servant’s salaries as and when due, or does she take out all her frustrations on the poor servants, calling them names, beating them up, brutalizing them, treating them with disdain? Have you trained your children to look down on the poor, to call your drivers by first name, and even slap them once in a while for perceived wrong doing? Well your judgment is on the way.

Life has become more unbearable for the people at the bottom of the societal food chain. In many states of Nigeria, under the pretext of terrorism, the ‘okada’, the singular means of transport that helps them, has been yanked away. Even in states where there is no threat of terrorism, the entire blame for crime is heaped on the poor and hapless okada man, and of course those who patronize them. But is this the whole truth? Whereas the ‘okadas’ cause a nuisance and indeed should not go with us as a nation into the future, should you not put your friends in government under pressure to provide alternatives to help your domestic and office staff?  Don’t you know that except these issues are taken care of, you and your children will partake in the coming carnage? But in the first place, will you add something to your staff salary in the new year to take care of extra transport costs?

Have you noticed the brutality that poor people suffer on the roads, from so-called anti-terrorism officers? Have you noticed many of them being forced to frog jump? Have you seen, from the backseat of your wonderful SUV, scenes where interstate commercial buses are stopped, and soldiers ask everyone to alight in the sun as they go through, impeccably, each and every piece of clothes, open every jar of cream and toothpaste, in the guise of looking for bombs? Just how many of such bombs have those guys stopped? Just what kind of country do you think we are creating these days? Just how do you think we got to this sorry, unlucky pass, and how do you think we can pull back from destruction? Do you feel any anger on behalf of the poor people of this country? Any pity? Were you not once poor yourself, until you got lucky?  Do you care that government has absolutely no provisions for the safety of the poor even as he journeys for his daily bread?

Dear Aristo. I know that you have several millions and billions in your account and your life is on a roll, but have you noticed for just one day, that all our government offices are now sealed against the poor people, barricaded and intimidated such that they can hardly approach public institutions for the betterment of their lots? They say it’s because of terrorism, and Nigeria today spends roughly 30% of its budget purchasing arms and ammunition and sustaining a huge security network. Is that how we inherited the public service from our forbears fore bearers? Did we not inherit open systems that were friendly to the masses, whose taxes sustained the civil service?

I hope you have seen that, as a culmination of the way we have now chosen to ‘arrange’/derange our society, as a result of our inaction over the years, and our failure to have any broad view of society, as a result of YOUR refusal to speak up, to at least advocate on behalf of the weak and vulnerable, the gap between the rich and poor in Nigeria has only widened into a huge, unbridgeable gorge, with dire consequences for us all. And that gap keeps growing and growing. You should take time out to pass through the very poor areas, and try and notice: 1) the sheer population of the poor, 2) the disenchanted, angry and hungry look on their faces, 3) the filth, pollution and squalor within which they live, and 4) the number of children they have in such environment. After you do this, look into the eyes of your own lovely children and try and be sincere when you say ‘I love you’.

All I ask is, what’s the game plan? Where is this all meant to lead? Whose idea of a society is this? Whose model is this that allows you and your type to cream off the entire society, to even steal the pensions of the poor, to know no limits in your oppression, to buy expansive mansions in Maitama for N250 million in a nation such as this?  Do you and your type think you can absolutely eradicate the poor and live happily ever after? Are you kidding me?  Which Oyibo man sold that lousy idea to your government and you? In my candid and humble view, a great judgment is coming soon enough. On that day, you will know that you are not as smart as you hoped you are. The hope of a genuine change rests on you. Speak up! For your children’s sake.  I will ignore you, and wish the poor and oppressed a better new year 2013.

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