If you escape the gripping hands of mean men in Nigeria, there is no other place as sweet as the country. For many of us, no matter how far we travel, Nigeria is always home. Exciting chatters about sundry current issues are better heard on the ground than read on the internet. Standing mano-a-mano with Nigerians who live and deal daily with the reality of hunger and poverty in a prosperous nation makes the message resonate deeper.
Chatters around this time in Nigeria hover around politics. It’s about who deserves to be president next year and who shouldn’t have even bothered to seek the highest office. One candidate’s lying past is fast catching up with him. Another candidate’s made-up figures and imaginary statistics are now casting a new light of deception on him and gradually eroding his credibility. A desperate candidate is battling to put out a raging fire razing down his mansion of commotion. Chatters about politics are on the air on the radio, on TV and rancorous on social media.
Talks about politics are not the only burdening matters in the hearts of Nigerians. There are breathing sublime chatters about ethnic self-determination. The blusters around Biafra demands by Igbo of the South-East may truly have suddenly slithered into a diminuendo in this election season for whatever reason, it’s still alive in the hearts of its champions. If you think Biafra push is dead, you are not alive. The once clangorous clamour and demand for the Yoruba Nation is also an undercurrent discourse. You think it’s a joke? You’ve got to be a clown. These self-determination pushes are hanging out there in the cumulus. Whether it drips down a balkanising rain on Nigeria or not remains to be seen. Don’t we all know why Nigerians want out of Nigeria? The separatist drives are egged on by many factors and we all know them. One of the factors is hunger and poverty. That was what brings me and my wife to Nigeria biannually. And from our little corner, we strive to do our best to help as we give away food, clothing and cash to the needy.
Each time my family is home on a mission trip; I get new insight into the fierceness and boisterousness of the sirocco of hunger and poverty ravaging this country. There is a palpable emotional tension all over the place. Prevalent trials and tribulations have brewed many angry people who bicker when they need to befriend, holler when they need to speak softly and who do the unthinkable that shock the sane. The story of one of the millions of Nigerians who are bitten by the serpent of hunger and poverty is that of an elderly man called Sunday Eze. Papa Eze, (probably in his seventies) was one out of about two thousand people who showed up at our mission event on Tuesday. He came to the table to receive a package of food and clothes we had for attendees during the event. To ensure order, all attendees had to be registered. Papa Eze was not. His eyes were dripping with a few tears when he was told he came too late. That was tough for me to handle. I pulled him to the side and asked what was amiss.
“I never chop today. I dey very hungry…My name is Sunday Eze…”
Time was 2 pm and this man had not eaten even a piece of crumbled cookies. He kept on muttering and mumbling incoherently. It was obvious he was battling other troubles. The human brain truly is the most complex organ within our bodies. It is the producer of every thought, action, feeling and experience. Nourishing it regularly with food is essential to our very existence. A comorbid medical condition associated with a brain denied of nourishing food is a psychiatric disorder. I broke the rules we set up and handed Papa Eze a package of food and clothing. But I felt that was not enough. I then gave him a little cash I believe can last him for a month or so.
Papa Eze’s story is one among millions in a country with wealthy people, prosperous politicians, and jet-riding businessmen. For the old and young, access to food supply shouldn’t be a problem in Nigeria. But unfortunately, it is. Inside many mansions and little huts dwells hunger. A lot of empty stomachs and repackaged poverty are everywhere. Poverty is real. It’s on the streets in cities and lurking around dusty raggedy roads in villages. It’s everywhere where stupendous wealth also lives. Many mansions are now empty because poverty has gained easy access even into the abodes of mighty men. That a fella lives in a multimillion naira home he built years ago and that a woman dresses elegantly well and sounds smart as she communicates does not mean they are eating in plenty and satisfied. Poverty is a principality with a fertile womb giving birth to meaner principalities.
Between 1990-2000, global poverty level fell from 43% to 21%—one billion people. Today, there are close to two billion people below poverty level. Internationally accepted extreme poverty line level is $1.25. Between 1981 and 2010, China pulled 680 million people out of misery and reduced extreme poverty rate from 84% in 1980 to 10% now. If China could do it, why can’t Nigeria? Nigerians should remind men, who want to be President that we need, to know their plans and specifics on how poverty and hunger will be crushed in the Nigerian blessed terrain. Ethnic and religious sentiments and consideration will never give a nation like Nigeria the best we need in leadership.
I’m certain we’ve not heard the last of the rescuing voice of God and His mighty helping hands regarding Nigeria. Amidst the commotion and discombobulation in Nigeria, I still hope that for the best even as hopelessness stares many people in the face. God does things for people for the sake of some people. For the sake of those who tarry before Him in prayers; God will not forget Nigeria. For the sake of those who have not bowed down their heads to the gods of mammon and corruption, God will not forget Nigeria. For the sake of plenteous innocent lives terminated before time because of misrule, God will not forget Nigeria. These we say in prayers.