One of the most obvious implications of bad governance is gradual but steady polarization of the society into two main classes; one miserably poor and the other massively rich. Though this scenario is not limited only to Nigeria, but what perhaps makes her case particularly worse is the growing amount of resentment and hatred that the overwhelming majority poor feel towards the microscopic minority rich in the society, who on the other hand distrust and look down at the poor as potential cheat and mischievous. This polarization manifests itself in all situations and–as cynically noted by one writer - in a situation whereby due to the relatively small number of the rich, their fancy and of course beautiful daughters can hardly find their marriage matches among young single males. They in most cases end up as second, third or even forth wives to some rich people old enough to be their fathers (or even grand fathers).
It is quite noticeable nowadays how the poor’s joints have turned into platforms where they desperately seek to derive some relief from their persistent agony by exposing the financial and even moral scandals of the rich, with a view to discrediting them and further fanning the embers of enmity against them. In many instances it even amounts to libeling them through apparently fabricated stories. In as much as this practice is basically unjustifiable, one can not help but come to the term with the fact that, this is the least normal reaction expected from desperate people as such.
The rich on the other hand do not only look down at the poor with distrust and contempt, but often condemn them as envious and enemies of progress. In fact there is a growing assumption among them that the poor’s predicament is probably a divine retribution for some misdeed they must have committed in the past, hence they deserve what they are going through.
Relationship between members of these two classes is predictably characterized by a great deal of hypocrisy. The rich use the poor to the extent of their (the rich) needs and vested interests. For instance they can mobilize them for any social, political or religious events that requires mass gathering. As a matter of fact they can even keep some of them as permanent retinue for miscellaneous purposes. All these in return of some small tantalizing cash gift, and the empty impression they give to them that their loyalty would automatically guarantee them their (elite’s) support when in distress. (Read also: Are Nigerians Really Citizens or Mere Subjects?
). Meanwhile the poor mostly play loyal and submissive out of desperation and would not –of course- hesitate to undermine their elite masters in return for a "better" deal.
However with the worsening socio-economic crises ravaging the country, the population of the rich is fast shrinking as against the growing population of the paupers. This has limited the chances of the poor to even get the “opportunities” of being tantalized and exploited by the rich. And the “privileged” ones who get such “opportunities” are considered rather lucky.
The implication has already begun to manifest itself. Insecurity is fast going out of control. Authorities charged with maintaining law and order are increasingly becoming incapacitated. Everyday different methods of serious and life-claiming crimes are being devised. Kidnapping, robbery and other heinous crimes are thriving, hence attracting more and more people. And the worst part of it is, all these crimes are no longer purely motivated by only poverty, but also by sheer hatred and resentment against the victims, who might not be necessarily rich. Against this gloomy background one can not help imagining a possible social unrest in the furture, God forbid. Many observers had already predicted it long before and wonder how it has not yet erupted despite the prevalence of all its causes. Some attribute it to a special divine protection, to which I subscribe in principle.
However, in as much this is my belief, I am sure this status-quo is not sustainable in view of the dramatic deterioration of the situation in the country. Because notwithstanding the notoriety of Nigeria in ethno-religious unrests, which have always unleashed horrible horrors, should any class unrest erupt the consequences would be more catastrophic than ever imagined. This is obvious because the masses of the exploited paupers would have realized how much they had been manipulated under religious or ethnic pretexts, while their exploiters prosper interdependently regardless of their perceived ethno-religious differences.
It is noteworthy that, poverty itself no matter how serious hardly sparks revolts. Instead what actually sparks it is sheer state of desperation and apparently perpetual deprivation and hopelessness, which bad leadership has unfortunately unleashed in Nigeria.
There is an urgent need for the stakeholders to preempt this scenario by providing good leadership, so that they can also enjoy their wealth amid reasonably poor people as obtained in all civilized countries around the world.
Mohammad Qaddam writes from UAE. For more of his articles visit www.qaddamsidq.blogspot.com