The vulture class celebrates 49th year as they join the class of billionaires while the Country laments about the gains of Independence. Also during Muslim and Christian holidays, they brag about how much of our money they spend feeding the poor people they created in the first place as if those are the only times the poor deserve a healthy dinner. When the people engaged in fervent prayers and attention is diverted or eyes closed in worships, they cart our trillions away.
It is not a secret in Nigeria that most people become rich through connections, government contracts, opening a bank and of course legitimate old fashion ways. It is no different to how others around the world get rich. The problem is the lion share in kickbacks concentrated in the hands of a very few. Each time wealth is so concentrated, it squeezes out the middle and working classes. Consequently, we see perpetual poverty or depression as we have in Nigeria, to celebrate 49th.
People say if some of us know how to become rich, we should not be poor like a church rat. In other words, if you are so smart, why are you so poor? On the other hand, if they are so rich, why are they so stupid? There are those of us who are too scared to steal, too young or too old for the slammer or too much of a coward to take a risk without guaranteed immunity like these celebrated looters.
Whose fools want to celebrate unity or democracy that bares no dividends? To the men and women on the streets, a recession is when they know too many people who go without a job. It becomes personal depression when they join the unprecedented number of unemployed. The difference between recession and depression may be a regional case. This is exactly what we have in Nigeria for the past 49 years since Independence that can only be celebrated by the very few privileged, military and political class.
We learned some lessons from the class of new generation banks. They enticed us and worked on our greed by promising substantial returns on the money we saved with them. The returns were so much, some of us sold tangible asserts like land, houses and cars in order to make a quick return. It is now history that many of us lost the shirts on our backs. The fly-by-nights set up banks packed up as soon as they accumulate substantial money. They moved to bigger things like inside trading.
During the time of Obasanjo, banks were made to come up with N25 billion to check runaway banks. Nigerian smart bankers got around it by â€œwarehouse sharesâ€. Simply put, they floated a subsidiary they lend money, to buy about half the shares they were going to sell to the public later. It created demand for bank shares. The subsidiaries then sold their shares in open market making profit. By the time they flooded the market, all collapsed like a pack of cards, at cut value.
In any of the scheme to get rich in Nigeria, connection is paramount as anywhere else. As the bankers were leading to cronies, contracts were dished out to wives, husbands and relatives. Even those with prominent well paying government jobs were getting contracts meant for the populace. Poverty alleviation grants, big and small business loans were dished out to same people. They are celebrating the good life in Nigeria as Bank Day or Independence Day, not the poor folks like us.
Despite all these, most Nigerians are not touched by these scandals. Factories and banks left standing after the collapse or relocation of the giants are yet to be encouraged for their professional practices. Those with questionable practices have given hardworking workers black eyes. In the words of a banker that was not involved in either inside trading of shares or flight by night – once these banks got away with it, it became a way of life and very difficult to stop.
It is frustrating for a graduate without connection to get a job in our Country. Even some of the people that are fairly connected have to employ their own children. Since opportunities are not created, the tendency toward nepotism increases becoming a way of life for the privileged few to further narrow who they give jobs to. This discourages our youth, wondering about the benefit of education.
It must be pointed out that the pursuit of education normally gives you a chance to become a member of the middleclass, but it is not a way in itself to become rich. Education is a prerequisite for knowledge and curiosity, not exclusively for wealth. That education is not smart is false. Those who are smart would seek education in as many languages and cultures, but not at the expense of ours, for leverage to general success.
In order to turn some of the money coming from the loans, contracts and grants into hard foreign currencies, they had to get partners who they pay commissions to help loot Nigeria. Any business without foreign materials or foreign experts will not satisfy conditions of their greed. They take foreign trips almost every other month to facilitate or secure business adventure in Nigeria. So much so an honest minister indicated once that more money was spent attracting foreign business than gain realized from such adventures.
Indeed, their foreign partners are the former colonial masters who have seized our brains in the form of neo-colonialism. They gave us Independence alright and put their people in our own flesh and blood in charge to milk us without tracing responsibilities back to former imperial colonizers. They all have more to celebrate than any rational African.
If we cannot love ourselves as Nigerians or as Africans, the least we can do is respect one another and treat one another like each wants to be treated. It is only then we can learn to live like civilized human beings, that is, the ability to live in peace and harmony. People who live in peace and harmony do not look down and try to game one another. A decent example in the world maybe hard to come by, we just need to do it our own way for the sake of prosperity for all.