I hosted the first live TV Presidential debate focused on youth issues in Nigeria, alongside Chimamanda Adichie. Amongst other presidential candidates, NCP’s Chief Dele Momodu was there. On that day, he declared that he would distribute power by zoning/rationing it while providing a timetable for its daily availability. He felt Nigerians needed to know what times they would have power so as to help them plan accordingly. He was also not in support of raising electricity tariffs.
Naeto C, a young man and popular musician, was present at the debate; and like every (young) Nigerian, he felt he had the right to comment on some of the proposals by Chief Momodu. On the social networking site Twitter, he made points about the plan not being workable and probably retrogressive. Naturally, the campaign team of Chief Dele Momodu, also made up of young Nigerians, replied and defended their candidate. It quickly became a very interesting conversation.
For people on Twitter, it was interesting to see young Nigerians talk politics, until things took a different turn. A member of Chief Momodu’s campaign team allegedly made an allusion to the fact that Naeto C was only in support of hiking power rates because he came from a privileged background and would not understand the pains of the average Nigerian who could not afford expensive electricity. The debate suddenly became about families and money; and it went sour from there.
It is almost a sin in Nigeria to be born rich or be a silver spoon kid. It is like an automatic order never to complain. It also means you can never really claim to achieve anything because “na your papa money you dey chop.” Of course, there are many instances where that is the case, but it does not automatically mean that everyone falls into that category. Just as not every poor person is poor just because they are too lazy to work hard.
I have a friend whose father is wealthy and lives in a huge house somewhere in Ikoyi. Interestingly, she has been unemployed for over a year now. I find that whenever she complains about not being able to find a job, people do not take her seriously. Their response is usually one of two things; “You’re being too choosy that’s why.” Or; “Abeg joo, your father has money. What do you even need a job for sef?” Funny because the poor girl has applied to every telecoms call center I know; all with negative feedback.
I find this quite disturbing. Since when did the poor or middle class Nigerian have the exclusive right to complain about the Nigerian situation? More importantly, how does being born to a rich father make one any less Nigerian? Who says anyone loves the sound of generators in their ears more, just because they can afford big ones? Who wants their array of German cars destroyed on poor Nigerian roads?
At this year’s edition of the Future Awards, an award ceremony organized to celebrate young Nigerians who have achieved in various sectors of the economy, Mr. Bode Pedro, (son of Femi Pedro, MD of various financial institutions and the former Lagos State deputy governor) who runs an IT firm, won the award for Business Owner of the Year. I did hear people later complain about the fact that the young man took home the award over other contenders from less advantaged backgrounds. While I agree that raising capital to start a business for him would definitely not be as difficult as it would be for someone who grew up in Idimu or Mpape, there is no doubt that he still deserves credit for running a successful business. Silver spoon kids have a reputation for running businesses down anyway. Why then deny one his deserved commendation just because he may not have found it so difficult to access capital?
The interesting thing about life is that poor or middle class people around the world work so hard just so that their own kids can be born with a silver spoon. No one wants his or her kids to have a hard time, especially not in a country where hard times define most of our daily existence.
A lot of people believe that most wealthy Nigerians got their wealth through corrupt practices. That is one reason for the bitterness. Another is the huge gulf between the rich and poor who almost live side by side each other. When a young man constantly drives his father’s Rolls Royce out of their mansion in Asokoro, and another man has to ride in a commercial bus to Kugbo, which is less than 5 minutes away both on the same roads, it can only breed more bitterness regardless of the fact that they both almost share the same unique Nigerian problems.
I’m not a rich man or a silver spoon kid so I cannot be speaking for them, but whether we like it or not, Nigeria like every other society, will continue to have wealthy citizens. We cannot crucify their children for their parents’ hard work. We cannot withdraw their Nigerian passports because they can afford more things than the average. We all equally go for days without electricity, get attacked by armed robbers, drive in traffic, have accidents on bad roads, get kidnapped, stand under the sun pointlessly after elections have been postponed, amongst many other issues. None of those core problems are respecters of class or status. Neither are rich people responsible for them.
Okay, I agree that some rich Nigerians are actually responsible for them, but since when has generalizing all rich people as evil, become the way out? How about we ship all poor people out of Nigeria for being so lazy and slowing the economy down? See???