Until the poor sleeps, the rich keeps awake?

by Rev. Uche Dr. Obodoechina

The discussion about the rich and the poor is always laden with emotions. One begins to ask who the rich is and who is the poor? What makes one rich and the other poor? What constitutes the content of richness or poverty? We can go and on asking the same-questions.

We cannot quibble about who is rich and who is poor in Nigerian society. There are several forms of richness and poverty. We are not wasting our time enumerating them. But our interest here is on material poverty and abundant material possessions.

The rich here are those who have abundance of material possessions and are living in affluence. They have enough to eat and drink and throw about. The poor in our context are those who live and eke out a miserable existence at the fringe of the society.

They are those men and women who have nothing to eat and drink. They live at the mercy of others. Sometimes they feel frustrated and ask questions.

One of the questions from the poor and the marginalized of our society is the question of why they are poor and the rest are rich? Why is it that some have enough to eat and others nothing at all to eat? Why the glaring inequality? And who is responsible for the imbalance?

These and similar questions agitate the minds of the poor. Not just the minds of the poor, but also the sane minds of many in our society who are at odds with the situation of brazen inequality in our society. The situation of poverty and inequality in our society is mind bogging.

One begins to wonder whether the poor are so out of their laziness and the rich out of their industry. Yet, it is not evident that the rich are more hard-working than the poor. Neither is it evident that the poor are poor because they are all lazy. It is not surprising in our context that even the laziest of all persons can be the richest.

Sometimes, it is a question of whom you know and what volume of evil you can do. Wealth possession in Nigeria is not just a question of having worked hard. In some cases yes, but in most of the time there are other attendant factors. You must have the necessary connections. And at some other times, you must have the will to do evil.

Otherwise, look at the volume of looting and stealing from public treasury, the lack of responsibility and sense of vision on the part of government, the systemic corruption in the rank and file of the society, including the obvious lack of rule of law and due process; these and similar evil are the remote and immediate causes of destitution among the majority of our citizens.

With the passage of time, it is becoming obvious that the situation of poverty and inequality in our society can no longer be ignored and tolerated. It cannot continue to be true that a few groups of individuals will continue to live in opulence while the majority of men and women continue to wallow in destitution.

The situation of course cannot last forever. And that is the message of this reflection. It cannot forever happen that the poor today will remain poor tomorrow. Neither will the rich continue to enjoy forever the bounty of life without some blink upon the poor.

The times are coming and they are already here, when the rich cannot afford to go to bed and rest while the hungry are standing at their door steps seeking assistance. In truth can the rich really go to rest while the poor are kept awake by hunger and thirst?

The Nigerian society and her resources belong to both the rich and the poor Nigerians. The equitable and just distribution of these resources is the sure root to national integration, peace and development!

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