OPINION: OWOBORIOMO CREATED ABJECT POVERTY FROM OIL INCOME WINDFALL

If you want to know the future of a country, look at their children today, their toys, fables and values. Oasis of a few dumb billionaires without “water” in the middle of a desert does not produce fertile land flowing with wara and honey.

 

Where else would highly educated Africans ruled by greed, turn a rich country into the world’s worst abject poverty since the 1980s? Most people want to be billionaires but are too busy dreaming about how they are going to spend like a drunken sailor rather than thinking about how it is going to create coexistence beneficial to their communities and new generations. If you pray to God to make you rich, be careful what you asked for, you may end up worse off.
Hausa were the most honest people and you could leave your house open as long as one of them was around to discourage neighborhood intruders. The Igbo man can be trusted with your business and he would run it without stealing a kobo. The Yoruba man was so tolerant, he would accommodate Fulani, Calabar, Ijo, Beroni or other Africans based solely on character rather than the worst of his own people. They now copy one another’s worst traits.

 

These were morals we cherished that were better than money, gold or silver while growing up. It points to the empirical facts that Nigerians achieved more with our individual character than money can ever buy us. There is a recent story about some town markets where people trade by bringing individual skills in farming, arts and manufactured utilities for exchange. The same venture took place in some South American towns as inflation had rendered their currencies useless. They are defaulting to old values because printed papers have lost their worth.

 

The mentality of that time can be understood in light of how far Nigerians have deviated from those humble days. There is a message here. Money is not enough. It has never been since the days we understood that money cannot buy you love. Yet the reason most Youths and old men accumulate money today is to buy love and happiness. Even Pharaohs that were buried with riches and slaves for afterlife, only become tourist attractions in this world, not in heaven.

 

The infatuation with money has created a class of people that are willing to drive a hot shaft through their own mothers just to get rich. Some kidnap themselves to extort money from their parents. The same mother God bestowed the power of creation. Fables taught us as toddlers that during the time of famine, all animals killed and ate their mothers. But the top Dog hid his mother in the sky. When other animals became hungry, they starved to death. Only the top Dog could sing for his mother that came down from the sky to feed him!

 

Iya Iya Takun Wale O, Alujonjon Kijon
Gbobgo Aiye Pa Yeye Re Je, Alunjonjon Kijon
Aja Mu Tire O di Oru O, Alujonjon Kijon

 

Fantastic story like many others about cuddling children to sleep at bedtime gave an insight into the morality of the days when children were brought up to respect human lives and make their communities great. Compare that to children that are brought up today that point a left hand to their house and give their country a worse name than others can label them. They contributed their wishes and curses to the country they made worse. Remember that every ruling vagabond started from a family.

 

Some of you may remember Bobby Benson, one of the flamboyant musicians of those days during the Highlife days from Ghana, Togo, Benin Republic to Nigeria. We loved Bobby’s music. Most of the kids even loved him more for his Jaguar car. It gave us our first taste of flashy or classy cars. Highlife music created many dance steps and ladies’ fashions. On weekends, after hanging out at Koriko Bar on Martins Street in Lagos, we moved to Maharani Club before retiring to Caban Bamboo to dance and listen to Bobby Benson and his son Tony.

 

However we worked hard on weekdays and partied hard on weekends, it was the days of sane climes. Modest Youth would wish for today. So, Bobby’s cohort questioned the rationale of buying such an expensive and luxurious car without his own house or land. Jaguar has always been an expensive car. Call their owners playboys or whatever you want, the communities were sane with a high sense of morality of what comes first. Business before pleasure. A song was composed to discourage such aberration:

 

Bobby Ra Moto Ko Ra’le (house)
Bobby Ra Moto Ko Ra’le (land)
Kosi Omo’ale To Ju Bobby Lo!

 

Haba! It was a bit harsh to label anyone the “son of a gun” for buying a car before a house in those modest and sane days. But the point was made. What we have now is far worse: branding, conspicuous display of ill-gotten wealth, foreign currency rain, ostentatious “gifted” for social media. They have replaced private ceremonies among friends and families. It is   difficult to see aberrations in the same country while those old enough or know better, watch.

 

Money and toys only raise the wants of youths, not their needs. People have to learn to develop what is needed to advance. Necessity is the mother of creativity, invention and innovation. Most advanced countries sell skills and talent without abundant natural resources as in Africa. But they know how to exploit natural resources they do not have. They explore Africa’s natural resources and sell them back into world markets to the highest bidders. Even gold polished in Europe is deemed more valuable than those skilfully polished in Africa.

 

The so-called black gold that some African countries have in abundance are in short supply at home because they sabotage their own refineries, smuggle out their crude oil and buy it back at inflated prices so that their cronies and foreign partners can pay kickbacks into foreign accounts. Markets encourage and create most billionaires. But in poor countries, most of the billionaires are created by politicians that even brag about these cronies during campaigns.

 

This is what you get when bandits, cowheads, pastors, immans and Voodoo economists rule a country while seasoned long-term Activists do not stand a chance of competing with moneybags and Armed Military Robbers gunning for the Treasury. Believe it or not, Nigerians have lost faith in the country. They realize the country is going to break eventually.

 

So there is panic looting and re-looting of recovered foreign loot. Everyone for himself, God of Christian, Muslim and Voodoo for all of us in the most religious country in the world. Right now, Federal Character, War Against Indiscipline and fight against corruption is a charade; only for those not well connected. So, no loyalty to the country or respect for Police hypocrisy.

 

They are buying second and third houses in foreign countries they can escape to! Where is Buhari moving Fulani to since we are not giving up the land they met us. Just as we thought Ebele Jonathan was buying a country for Ijaw in Europe and Americas.

 

Everything don Skata Kata!
*** Written by Farouk Martins Aresa @oomoaresa.