Poverty as defined by the English dictionary as the scarcity or lack of a certain amount of material possession or money. Poverty is more than just having poor people around. It is a state where a person can’t afford basic life needs; clothes to wear, at least two square meals a day, quality education, and being treated like a citizen and a respectable human being. Sadly, this is our most dominant state. People wake up on the streets in rags with empty stomachs and not looking forward to doing anything except sit and beg.
No schools to go to because they can’t afford it, no jobs because they couldn’t afford school, or perhaps no job opportunities. Even when such opportunities exist, they don’t get hired because they have no special connections. When some happen to be educated and luckily have jobs, their salaries won’t be paid for months. Or it won’t be enough to cater to their growing needs. It’s bad enough jobs are not remotely easy to find but a person finally finds one thinking they can attend to their families’ basic needs but salaries are not paid? The government has not only failed us in its inability to tackle poverty but in so many other areas as well.
Poverty can run every nation down to the ground. The government’s incompetence in handling poverty leads to unemployment, violence, insecurity, and crime rates increase spontaneously. Not to mention corruption. Corruption—according to the English dictionary— is defined as an act of impairing integrity, virtue, or moral principle. It can also refer to as inducing a public official by improper means such as bribery to violate duty.
Eradicating poverty is mainly on the government’s side of the line. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have our parts to play. We live in a world where corruption overpowers a lot and ruins the heart. Wherever there is corruption, poverty comes along, and vice versa. Sadly, corruption seems to be our middle name. We are as corrupt as our leaders. The few that are not aren’t willing to stand up to it, which makes them accomplices. Corruption has reached a level of normalcy, it has gone deep into the roots of our society and our system. The people are hindered from voting for leaders that are willing to work, whether due to our injustice and selfishness or the governments’ ulterior agenda.
The leaders care so little for the betterment of the country and its people. The government should be able to set their agendas and go along with it. Sadly it seems, agendas are like front covers of the book of lies. During elections, they come up with campaigning about how much work they plan on doing, how they will improve the education system, provide better job opportunities, and their grand plan to eradicate poverty. They visit the poorest of places and shower them with falsehood, giving them hope, and making them believe that things would be better for them.
All that becomes a mirage after the elections. They speak one lie after another, spew endless propaganda making the whole process look like a whole sham. We should be able to trust that our government would do the right thing. But every time we choose someone with our fingers crossed waiting for some improvement, we get disappointed. We see the same disaster waiting to unfold before us, yet we have to choose the better between two evils.
Despite it all, we applaud the government for providing the country and our basic needs and rights. We get overwhelmed with joy when our government decides to use a fraction of our country’s economy for our country. We praise them when they complete one of their many agendas and in a heartbeat, we choose them again because as bad as they might be, they are better than the other person. Yet we continue to lack the infrastructures and amenities. Our buildings are as bad as our roads and power supply. Our education system is terrible. The health system is nothing to write home about either. Some places still don’t have proper drinking water—the most basic thing a government can provide. And these—and more— are problems faced in great Nigeria, the giant of Africa.
The unemployment rate in Nigeria went from 8.24% in 2018 to 23.1% in 2019, which is an astonishing increase of 29,110,740 million people in a year! About 55.4% of youths today are unemployed. A statistic from the national bureau in 2020 shows more than half of Nigeria’s employed population survives under a salary of $100 equivalent to 41,600 monthly. Yet this is a country whose gross domestic product is $446.56 billion per year, and is the 26th largest country by nominal GDP according to World Bank, and the largest economy in Africa. How high can poverty get? How heartless and selfish can we all be? To what end, and how long will it take?
We need to start making better choices to get better leaders. We need to start from within, ourselves. Remember all that talk about wanting a better place for our children? well, it’s about time. It’s not all on the government, it’s all of us. In Islam, it says, “we are who we choose”. We complain about how corrupt our leaders are and how they embezzle money for their selfish needs. We complain about how they are the ambassadors of poverty—which they are— but the truth is we are all ambassadors of poverty. Giving the same opportunity a lot of us will do the same.
Nobody wants to make the world a better place, the rich are greedy, and the poor are looking for opportunities to pay back. The few people that come with good intentions get riddled with the ‘if you can’t beat them, be them’ notion. At the end of the day, they choose the latter. It’s like we are in a game of roulette; betting and gambling. We don’t know what happens next, we just hope for the best and pray. But hope and prayers, yield best results when accompanied with action. We need to change our mindset and our standards of living.
I would say the government should provide counseling programs but from past experience, I say let’s leave the government out of this. Let’s do this ourselves and for us. Let’s do it for our successors and our children, and that better tomorrow we have dreamt so much about. Youngsters should go out of their way to work. As long as a person has strength and health then that person has a chance. A chance to do better than yesterday, a chance for a better tomorrow as there is no easy way out. Even if the government is willing and able to do their job right, poverty and corruption cannot be rooted out when people want to be spoon-fed. It takes two to tango. We need to discipline ourselves, we need to urge each other to think positively and act the same. We have to abandon the status quo.
There is so much we can do by ourselves —maybe not as much as if we did it together with our government as a nation— but enough to make life better for us. It’s time to stop lurking around. it’s time to make use of our imaginations, gather the little we have, and ignite something great. Skills acquisition should be part of our school curriculums. It should be as important as the other classes because with the kind of system we have, credentials aren’t substantial without connections. The era of trying to make it on our own is over without a skill.
People that aren’t privileged to go to school should be inspired to be skillful. Learn something—it doesn’t matter what as long as it is productive— and be good at it. Most of these people are brilliant and smart. Let’s endeavor to make life easy for ourselves, we can’t wait for the government to do their part before we do ours. Just because one is not educated that does not mean they can’t do anything with their lives for themselves. After all, you don’t have to go to school to be educated. Learn other things as no knowledge is considered a waste. Drop the arrogance, pick up a trade and learn, no matter what, as long as it’s decent.
Grow into it and strive.