I credit Henry David Thoreau for the critical structure of this essay
MONEY IS KILLING NIGERIANS
I do not think that I will be alone in saying that I am quite enamored by the concept of money. Whether it’s the printed pieces of paper that seem to dictate the daily lives of the people, or the bank account numbers that seemingly determine self-worth, it is a system of value that nobody really chooses but everyone agrees on.
A “poor” man is seen as a person who does not have money in “adequate” amounts; and this adequacy is defined by how he compares with his peers. In an attempt to garner more money the “poor” man must undertake a series of risky, monotonous or otherwise soul-crushing tasks; tasks which are rarely natural to the human condition in order to survive. Tasks that only result in more tasks, making him/her even more subservient to the circumstances that they had tried to escape in the process.
Ever since the discovery of oil, “urbanization” and subsequent westernization, Nigerians have developed a warped sense of money. Instead of money being a tool to develop and improve life, foster trade and innovation, instead it has become a goal to be attained; and because of this, money that is meant to simplify life has been made to compound it.
The “poor” man that grows his own food and makes his own shelter is now a villager, a relic of an old age and not worthy of any respect. If he cannot escape his circumstance he is seen as spiritually deficient. As he cannot put his experiences to paper he is deemed an illiterate. But the “rich” man is wise. The “rich” man who attains foreign appliances which he cannot produce nor maintain, the “rich” man who has lost all semblance of bodily fitness, who actively spends on products designed to destroy his body and soul.
Money has become a god in itself, and its ways are mysterious indeed. In its poetic beauty it is no respecter of persons. It may choose to bless the short or the tall, the book-smart or the street-smart, the fit or the unfit, the hardworking or the lazy. Money can bless a generation and curse another within the same family. It can strengthen a tribe or it can destroy it. It can motivate a nation or it can demoralize it.
Pray tell, the use of acquiring a multi-million naira vehicle, if there are no roads for it to ply? It would seem that the nation has imported its stock of appliances in excess that there is not enough electricity generated to utilize them… We are an island of consumers. There is little incentive to produce anything of value; even the humble toothpick is imported from overseas, as well as the noble straw. I still find it hard to place where the lack of support for local business stems from. Is it out of hatred for our fellow man? Or the fear that he might rise above us? Could it stem from a lack of trust in his abilities or his intentions? We seem to crave foreign intervention for issues we could handle perfectly ourselves. We seek to “escape” to foreign lands with less natural resources and harsher climates than our own for some semblance of sanity. We go where we are not needed nor wanted to find what we destroyed.
We rejected coins because notes were easier to handle (which is the most logical conclusion from that debacle). When the people don’t like something, they don’t like something. We chose inflation instead. And yet the notes we clung on to we crumple and deface on a daily basis. Where a coin could have lasted a decade, a note can only last a year.
I find it ironic that the learned politician, who fearfully stashes away large sums of money in his sewage pit, cutting it off from circulation and ventilation, thereby driving down its value both literally and economically, is more respected than the internet fraudster; the G man who through ingenuity and skill, plays on the greed of his victims and injects foreign currency into the economy.
Our priorities are long lost.
But why do I write all this? Let it be known, humble reader, that this is no call to pacifism; for there is nothing more dangerous to the human condition. After all, this is the realm of power, and the violent take it by force and whatnot. But if this is our true nature and this is how things are meant to be… why then do the people complain. I do tire of the incessant complaining. The “poor” man complains vehemently about his condition as does the “rich” man. If there is one thing that will unify the nation it is lamentation and apportioning blame to anyone other than ourselves. Gathered around a newspaper stand the herd argue bitterly over the many transgressions of the shepherd, blaming him for all their ills. At political gatherings the shepherd berates the herd for not toiling hard enough in the sun, as he fears for his security and seeks protection with the wolves.
Best not to further dampen your spirits by entertaining fantasies of what could have been. Best to adapt and overcome. Celebrate the scavenger and learn his ways. Give us Barabbas and keep your Messiahs. We refuse to yield.