Probing Poverty



What is good for the goose must equally be good for the gander! This was the assertion of a controversial Senator from Kogi State who recently queried why security agents only investigate the rich and leave the poor. The senator, in a short video clip which went viral, wondered why rich people were not investigated when they were initially wallowing in poverty.

His comment generated many responses, ranging from ribald curses to ironic agreement. But, truth be told, the fun-loving senator has thrown the gauntlet to the anti-corruption agencies, who in addition to currently snooping around looters, must now also investigate the source of poverty of more than 90 per cent of Nigeria’s population of over 170 million persons.

Although the rich in Nigeria reportedly constitute only five per cent of the total population, more than 95 per cent of the country’s wealth lie in the hands of this group, some of who acquired such riches through questionable means, and are freely enjoying such loot due to their untouchable status.

As to the senator’s poser: In Nigeria, anything is possible, and there are instances where a man was investigated, tried and sentenced to six months in prison with hard labour for merely stealing a goat for food, while a rich banker was reportedly sentenced to six months’ ‘bed rest’ for acquiring billions of naira through funny transactions. Ironically, most poor citizens really have nothing to hide, perhaps apart from the actual number of their offspring.

However, if the rich are well-investigated and those found guilty slammed in prison with all their assets confiscated, there would be re-distribution of such confiscated loot to lift more poor people out of poverty, with good examples set for presently-poor but potential treasury looters. That is a good starting point….not so?

– Abimbola Akosile