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Kobo in the midst of billions



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SOMETIMES, I am sicken by the level of waste, profligacy and illiterate show of opulence of our well-heeled moneybags. Nigeria is a nation of wealth and social comparisons. We love to compare our wealth with our neighbours. We compare our fortune within our family members and where we live. We compare our education with colleagues to see whether we were better bred than them. I remember in those days in Lagos when schools such as King’s College, CMS Grammar School, Igbobi College and St Gregory’s ranked as the elites of this nation’s secondary schools. It was the school to be.
Today Nigeria has moved up several notches to be a nation where money in billions is the order of the day in a midst of our penury – kobo in the midst of billions. The wealth of our ex-military chiefs are measured in billions. The wealth of our corporate overlords are measured in billions. The wealth of our politicians are measured in billions. The wealth of our bank executives are measured in billions. The wealth of our businessmen and women are measured in billions. The wealth of our oil and gas executives are measured in billions. The wealth of our renown church overseers are measured in billions.
Where does this ugly obsession to speak in terms of billions leave us as a nation? What has the obsession with money done to our psyche as individuals and as a nation? Why do we romanticise money in billions? Twenty years ago, being seen as a millionaire connotes hardwork, industry, business integrity and genuine source of accumulation. We embraced the old millionaires with effortless confidence. We shared their orthodoxies of frugality, community participation, humility, love and pride in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s social and wealth barometer has changed forever. Today, our roads are jammed with gleaming SUVs bought with millions of naira. Our skylines are jammed with jets bought with billions of naira. Houses are now built with billions of naira. We now organise parties worth billions of naira. We now travel abroad to buy houses worth billions of naira. We live for today in a midst of kobo. We celebrate grindingly banal lifestyle in the midst of poverty.
Abuja has continue to maintain its status as a city of debauchery, opulence, stinking wealth, stolen money, corrupt billions, financial immorality, wine-bar confidence, shady deals, carnal comforts and money lords. Abuja is dotted with houses worth billions in the midst of kobo. Abuja is dotted with expensive cars worth millions. Land in Abuja is sold in billions. Deals worth billions are closed daily. Billions of naira are stolen routinely. Contracts are now awarded in billions. Lenders now borrow in billions. Borrowers now receive money in billions.
Fraudsters are now chasing billions. The hugeness of such money is no longer daunting. Corrupt public servants are no longer caught with millions but with billions. Judges no longer take bribes in millions but in billions. Isn’t there something very stifling about all these misplaced values? From national leaders to our house helps, we covet billions and would do anything to be called a billionaire. We would do any immoral, shady and diabolic undertakings to belong to the billionaires’ club.
Ex- maximum leader, General Sani Abacha stole in billions. Obasanjo stole in billions. Deizani Alison-Madueke stole in billions. Pension scams are recorded in billions. Money is being used to buy positions, power, promotion and prominence. Our moneybags use their billions to oppress fellow Nigerians who are daily defrauded and reduce to penury – kobo in the midst of billions. The transfer of money and wealth from the commonwealth into the vast grab bag of the moneyed elite is mind bugling.
We allow those who have defrauded us to walk around haughtily. We accommodate their excuses and argument of innocence and give them support and announce our loyalty with tribal glee. We talk of corruption in Nigeria but where are the perpetrators? The victims are everywhere in this blighted, blasted nation. The victims are our unemployed youths trapped in capsule of despair, regret and hopelessness. The victims are our aged mums and dads who have no access to any medical care. The victims of our billion naira mentality are the marginalised and forgotten army of Okada riders massing on our street junctions.
In Nigeria the rich eat the poor to the bones brazenly. They are forced to live with kobo in the midst of billions. The poor are forced to live with disproportionate advantage from birth to death. There is lament everywhere that Nigeria is a wicked nation. There are voices rising up in their cadences condemning the black race for evil and monstrous in justice against its own people. We are lost to shame in the way we still in Nigeria. We are sunk in sin in the manner we steal billions of public money with impunity and hardened conscience. We live in a society of grab what you can but grab it in billions. We live in a society where the well-heeled steal billions and the poor is left to fight over kobo – kobo in the midst of billions!
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