‘The government is working to alleviate poverty’. ‘The government’s poverty alleviating programme…’. ‘…our party’s cardinal agenda is to alleviate poverty!’ (you almost think there is a smirk on their faces when they say it) The Federal Government even set up agencies, large enough to be a ministry on their own and with the main purpose to alleviate poverty. Check and you will find DFFRI, NDE, NAPEP, Green Revolution, Operation Feed The Nation. Then they ran out of ideas and even named one, Poverty Alleviation Programme. I also found that there is even a body called the Poverty Eradication Council! I wonder who the people who sit in that council are. The cheek.
Are we poor or were we made poor? So poor that we need help to claw our ways out of the gluey grip of debasement? This country? In 2019? Honestly, we all need our heads examined and whoever was the first to vomit that dross should be hunted down and nailed to a plank that bears that very phrase!
Alleviate, an action word, is defined as ‘to make a problem, suffering, a condition less severe’. Goodness! Was it that the person who first used the phrase was uneducated or just plain mean? In Nigeria?
My angst is not that it is wrong or bad to ‘alleviate’ anything or to be poor for that matter. Where there is life, there is hope. It is that this is not a new phrase, we have had it in our official and political vocabulary for a long time, an inheritance from the military domination era when someone even said to have mused not too long before they started to alleviate anything, that money was not our problem but what to do with it. No matter how mow mindless a murmur to himself it was, you still must wonder what quality of mind concocts such dumb arrogance.
Nigeria is full of oil, crude oil that we are still discovering all over the country even if the rest of the world is going to soon forget what crude smelled like. It made us rich. Cocoa, groundnuts, palm products, manufacture, cashew, sesame, the list is endless, have all made us a wealthy nation at various times. We even fought an unneeded civil war without the Federal Government of the day borrowing a single dime! Yet, a few years after that, we are alleviating poverty?
Something is satanically wrong with us. That, though is not the issue.
The pain is that in alleviating, we are only being kept alive for fattening pending the day we drop off on the streets from hunger, ill-health and mad with depression.
And then another leader, apparently as impaired of empathy, incurably dis-inhibited, a psychopath felt that ‘poverty alleviation’ had been repeated too often and we may have started to connect with the wickedness of it, so he came up with ‘palliatives’. Who does that?
You probably know that in medicine, ‘palliative’ is a cousin of ‘alleviate’ both of them indicating applying solution that reduces pain without curing the cause. In more formal terms, ‘palliative’ is to make a problem seem less serious without solving the problem or making it disappear. It is wicked, ruthless, for anyone to tell us as citizens that they are applying palliatives to our suffering or alleviating our poverty. They must be convinced that we will never check the dictionary for the meaning of those words.
In the first place, who caused the poverty? The various leadership we have had in this greatly blessed country who stole or if we wish to be kinder, frittered away our commonwealth with incompetence, greed, nepotism and a total paucity of thought for a tomorrow which has now caught up with us all.
There is no way history can be kind to the memory of those leaders who alleviated our poverty and gave us palliatives when we should not have been poor in the first instance. Their children and the children of their friends are the ones who ultimately need palliatives for the agony they carry on their conscience anytime they see us die on their bad roads because we cannot afford to fly and floods wash away our makeshift homes because the money to prevent those things are in the obscenities they drive as cars and fly as aircraft; they cannot sleep well, each time a baby or cancer or kidney patient dies in our hospitals that they have abandoned for trips to Dubai to host perverted weddings and take undeserved rest.
It is both an insult and an evil of Beelzebub proportions for anyone to attempt to alleviate poverty for a people as rich as Nigerians, especially by the same people who put us in this situation in the first place. A country that earns in excess of $18b a year from oil should not be alleviating poverty; we have no business applying palliatives to poverty when more than $26b cash is remitted to Nigeria annually by our Diaspora, far in excess of any vaunted FDI. How did we become a nation of alleviation after all we have been?
But I think we know why. Someone destroyed our public educational system and our graduates unemployable so their own private school and children can prosper, they cudgeled our textile industries into non-existence so they can license their kin to bring in foreign fabrics we cannot afford – thank God for ‘Okrika’ – they ran down our crude processing capacity so they can import finished products from their own refineries located in other lands, and collect subsidy to boot. We must be poor and in need of palliatives since we watched helplessly as those we trusted to run the country – or who forcefully rules us – deliberately impoverished us to the point where they needed to keep us alive with alleviation. It is a sorry story to consider that this same country once lent some countries money and almost single-handedly won South African blacks freedom from apartheid. One look at the ground South African has covered and how they treat us is enough to give any thinking and considerate leader sleepless nights. We killed our Nigeria Airways while Dubai raised its Emirates to a global brand in the same time frame and our Nigeria National Shipping Line is no more in existence. We know why we are so poor that we need palliatives and alleviation.
It is the same kind of mind that cooked up alleviation and palliatives that sneered at Rwanda’s unprecedented progress and successes on the world stage. Apart from other things, they are exporting their first homemade android phones to the world while we gloat over the fickle feat of manufacturing toothpicks and matches. And we don’t know why we are poor? We know, o we are just not talking because we have been oppressed, suppressed, dispossessed and subdued into regression till we need palliatives. .
That knowledge sadly, does not cure the ill, because like the alleviation, it is just a palliative that fuels our impotent anger not cure for the evil that has befallen us.
- Bimbo Manuel, October 2019