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Published On: Mon, Aug 4th, 2014

Politics of stomach affairs: Can Nigerians stand their ground?

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Politics of stomach affairs - Can Nigerians stand their groundBy Ochiaka Ugwu

To say that the political office holders especially from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led Federal Government has impoverished Nigerians and are now using poverty as a bargaining tool for 2015 polls is stating the obvious.

Most political observers are of the opinion that the ruling PDP may as well have a field day in 2015 elections given the fact that they have subjected the electorates to untold hardship which will make them to have no choice than voting the party that will be readily available to offer the much needed “stomach infrastructure” during the contest. They went on to inform, that a poor man has no principle making it possible that most Nigerians will not be guided by principle during the elections since they fall into this category.

In the last Ekiti State Guber election, the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) had accused PDP of giving the electorates uncooked rice to sway their votes, while the PDP in return accused APC of giving cooked rice. With this, one cannot undermine the power of a bag of rice in electioneering.

A grim statistics of the population of Nigerians in abject poverty as released by the National Bureau of Statistics states that about 112 million Nigerians live below the poverty line.

This followed another depressing disclosure by the World Bank, which also said that the population of Nigerians in poverty has increased considerably. The figure represents about 67 per cent of the entire population.

Nigerians are poverty stricken which did not come by accident but by design. Most families go to bed on empty stomach not being sure when they will eat again. Life is gradually becoming a bonus in the land. No matter how angry or sentimental one gets, hunger obliterates other emotions. And, across the centuries, it has proven to be an effective tool, weapon and strategy for many causes. It has been used in warfare to change the tide of battles.

A public affairs analyst and commentator on national issues, Mr. Luke Otobo while reacting on the level of poverty in the country, said that Nigeria is the Giant of Africa and also Giant in poverty.

“We live in the continent’s wealthiest nation. Yet, good percentage of Nigeria households, nearly 100 million Nigerians struggle to put food on the table”.

Otobo, who frowned at the way politicians are using poverty as potent tools to enslave Nigerians, stressed the need to step up efforts to reduce poverty in the system.

“In this part of the world, hunger is not caused by scarcity of food, but rather the continued prevalence of poverty. Both issues must be addressed in our continued efforts to help those referred to as “the wretched of the earth” he said.

Stakeholders have also suggested that the most direct way to reduce hunger in the land is through people’s oriented programs. But while government policies are vital to assist poverty stricken Nigerians, it is not enough. They also chorused that as a people, we must come together to confront hunger and poverty in the land. Use our resources below to learn more about the causes of hunger in Nigeria, and what we can do to end it once and for all.

Pundits have said that it is unfortunate that government rolls out policies to create more hardship. Both National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly, having legislated themselves out of thes hearts of the people vote to push millions into deeper poverty and frustration.

It is well known fact that money is a tool that allows people to buy things and do things. With our federal government’s enormous budget, fiscal plan, it can accomplish a lot. This gives our government enormous power and influence over what happens, not only in the country but also in other countries around us.

In a disturbing trend that prioritizes the wealthy over the most vulnerable Nigerians, policies are enacted to take from the poor to give to the rich, which most people see as “reverse Robin Hood” who rather stole from the rich to give the poor.

Poverty, it is said can make a principled man unprincipled, make the Pius unholy, make even the gods to do terrible things and make best of friends to be worst enemies. Poverty has been blamed for being responsible for the spate of insecurity our nation is witnessing today. It has made people to do the unthinkable.

A crispy note of N 1000 can do what a well-articulated roadmap or blueprint of competent politician cannot do. It can do better than a good laid down rule of action. It can make a good man to sell his conscience. These are things just N 1000 notes can do. As the activities for the 2015 general elections gather momentum, for most politicians, it is a forgone conclusion as money will be the deciding factor. To them, money is the decider in any political calculation, and an ideology changer.

But to achieve this, everything has to be put in proper perspective. Poverty level in the land has to increase, deepened, expanded and made more intense. The outcome is that many more will cry, many more will go hungry and many more poverty boosting policies will come on-board. That explains why more Nigerians are being impoverished by the system.

The whole idea is to get country men and women to a place where they will have no choice, even the choice not to choose between devil and Lucifer. People will go to bed in frustration and wake up in hopelessness. While the unemployment figure soars, those employed are either owed salaries or placed under a wage that can hardly take them home. Most people are just paid to stay alive and do the same thing. Apart from the fact that poverty has taken over the land, it has become an identity for most country folks.

A member of National Conference, representing South West geo-political zone, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said that Nigeria has become a country of extreme rich and extreme poor. This statement depicts the situation most people find themselves.

It is touching that people are being compelled to dump integrity, dignity and self-confidence on the altar of poverty. This is just Abuja the capital city, what of none capital cities. Take a trip to villages and see the scourge of poverty taking its toll on the villagers.

A public affairs analyst, Mr. Emeka Nwodo, said that poverty walks naked in the street giving people plate numbers and they are collecting it reluctantly. He went on to advise analysts not to base their judgment on poverty in Abuja as it is going to be a wrong one.

“Please take a trip to villages and see why the market for votes would be big next year. I have heard some talks about the government creating jobs and subsequently eradicating poverty. This is just a gimmick and an intention to deceive. Don’t be fooled. They don’t have any plan towards poverty. If they have any, it is all about increasing and spreading it because it will be an effective tool for next year’s election. You should not be swayed by the usual talk about creating millions of jobs. Subsidy Re-Investment and Empowerment Programme is gradually wearing the gab “Sure Poverty” he said.

In agreement with Nwodo, were most Nigerians who held that the purpose of creating the scheme has been defeated as it has given birth to emergency millionaires in the face of scorching economic hardship in the country.  What the SURE-P fund is doing in many states is to assure a few of more millions and pauperise the majority. It sure did some magic which only made the rich richer. In some states, the fund often gets stashed somewhere waiting for the Election Year as political office holders rev up to retain their seats or head to a higher one which is always more juicy.

It did not end with political office holders. If he’s a civil servant, then it is from the ministry’s coffer. If he is a business man, then more dirty deals for fast cash has to be contrived. It is no longer race for armament as was seen in previous elections. It was out-dated or better still they have found new method. The strategy is cash and carry. It is not for boys or the poor because people are damn too hungry and desperate to eke out a leaving.  Although, Nigeria is gradually going cashless as engineered by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), expect river flow of cash. A sitting senator once boasted that he already stashed N 3 billion to prosecute a gubernatorial ambition in 2015. There are many of them who have boasted of their stash.

These confessions are endless or maybe they are saying it to create some kind of money personality cult around themselves that will evoke fear to their perceived opponents. But all the same, Nigerians are not dismissing their confessions with a wave of hand. It could explain why monies are currently missing and large amount being allocated to projects that have no direct benefit to the people.

The sad thing is that many good people would just be too willing to be bought with these tainted monies. I know some electorates who are just waiting to be bought. They would only follow the highest bidder. To them, a good manifesto, a beautiful action plan and a clean reputation on the part of the candidate are not important.

There’s too much hunger on the land right now and we can’t afford to pretend to be interested in anything else other than survival!” Hunger at work!

I know voters getting prepared to sell. There are thugs waiting to be paid. Electoral officers are expectant too: Security agencies and their staff are also unwearyingly waiting on the corners. We are on the march again.

But I’m sure there would be a few who would not sell out. Who would look hunger in the eyes and still maintain honour, dignity and self-pride. They will dares the emperor and tell him it is no longer business as usual. Those who would look at the oppressor in the eyes and say: “You can’t buy me, because a bought Conscience is a powerless one”

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