Opinion:Weaponization Of Poverty

                     By Agba Jalingo

Once, I attended an ANPP campaign event in Maidugri as a journalist and was privileged to be in the Governor's convoy. The Governor then was ANPP. He was in company of a former National Chairman of the party, who was also from the North. (I want to withhold their names.)

While the governor's convoy was negotiating a wide roundabout in the center of Maidugri, there was a large number of young people running around and selling petrol in kegs. Obviously there was fuel scarcity and black market was thriving. In a later conversation which I overheard, the former national Chairman asked the Governor why he allowed so many people to run around with flammable liquid like that in the center of town? He warned that it was very risky and advised the Governor to do something about it. 

The Governor promptly replied in Hausa language that, it was election time and those boys selling fuel are the boys they use to disrupt elections when the need arise and any attempt to remove them from that point during elections will lure them to the opposition party. He said they are easy to procure and dispense and promised the Chairman that, they will be removed after elections, if the fuel scarcity persisted. I speak Hausa fluently so I didn't need an interpreter.

Let me give you another instance. I have also heard a political office holder from the South say, "Don't worry yourself Agba, about those complaints. People are hungry, once you send them some money, all the annoyance will disappear."

These are two actual scenarios that I was able to shovel from my memory this morning to buttress the point that the perpetuation of poverty is a weapon of politicians and political organizations. They create poverty, and weaponize same for their self-benefit. There are well researched theories which have managed to show how politicians create poverty, manipulate poor people for their benefit and clip the poor to remain on the same level over a long period.

Even amongst the people, we have weaponized poverty against ourselves. For most important persons in our lives and families, the comfortable time for them to give money or assistance is, when you want to entertain or when you are grieving. Like when you want to conduct a burial, friends and relatives will spend millions to travel across oceans, and from the cities to attend. WhatsApp groups will open for generous donations. When you are ill or want to start a business or fund education, you will be ignored. We are acquiescing to a vice.

Successive governments have conducted numerous researches on causes of poverty, suggesting various policies, yet there is no political will to implement these policies and ensure poverty is addressed. But the worsening situation in the country is proving daily that, handing out tokens to the citizens like our leaders are doing today will not resolve any problem. It is rather creating a dependent citizenry and escalating an already fragile situation. Political realism should therefore open our eyes to the urgent need for sustainable poverty eradication methods that can enthuse the alienated population.

Yours sincerely,

Citizen Agba Jalingo. Poverty



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