Japheth Omojuwa: The girl who could only imagine and a nation tending to more poverty (YNaija Frontpage)

In fact, for every public official whose action and inaction helps to make this reality possibility, their existence though seemingly beautiful and colourful will be as the pain of ignorance when the human knowledge is called up to express itself.

I watched a clip yesterday by Mike Steve Adeleye. It was a short animation that had me sober for the period it took me to sleep after I saw it. The setting was in a model school and there was this little girl, so full of energy and spirit. She loved the school environment and made sure to spend time on all the playground’s facilities. She continued having fun until the camera took one closer to her face and in focus came her real reality. The little girl was never in school at no time. She was hawking banana beside a school and her imagination took her into the future. She saw the other kids in their beautiful school uniforms and with all the happy noises and it dawned on her that the life she was living – hawking banana – was certainly not the way to go. She was about five and her story resonates with millions of Nigerian children. The clip took me from the future and sent me back into the present, a reality that had me in tears.

That little girl could easily be in school today because while it may cost a lot to educate all Nigerians to the tertiary level, every child must have the best of primary education and this is not a bar too far to reach. In fact, for every public official whose action and inaction helps to make this reality possibility, their existence though seemingly beautiful and colourful will be as the pain of ignorance when the human knowledge is called up to express itself.

I received a picture gift from a Nigerian photographer, Tunde Hundeyin. You could interpret the picture in many ways but you’d never lose sight of the two poor kids in the picture. The picture had been taken in Benue. You could see pain and poverty on the face of the children even as one notices the fading beauty of childhood. One of them was dressed in a worn out wrapper while the other was dressed in nothing short of a rag. The picture sits in my room. The reason is simple, that if I ever forget about these children, at least I’d have something to haunt me.

In the midst of all these seemingly normal states of poverty, can you imagine what the floods in Kogi and its environs would have caused to the people there? Think of the cost to a people whose only respite from Nigeria’s incessant corruption and mal-administration is the fact that they at least had a place they could call home. This is not to say all the displaced people indeed had homes to stay. The point is, Nigeria needs to do more for its people. We are annoyingly too rich to be in the state we have found ourselves. Last year, according to the latest figures from the ministry of finance, we spent N2.19 trillion on fuel subsidy. Need I say that at least 50 per cent of this was money meant for the cronies of powerful government officials?

The ministry of youth development got N49 billion with about 90 per cent of that servicing the NYSC. We budgeted N34 billion for health. I do not have the liberty to go into further details but you’d see even from these numbers that we are a nation doomed to fail if our spending priorities continue to favour avenues of corruption and cronyism. Capital Expenditure, which is more or less money dedicated to building national infrastructure was about N1.3 trillion last year. In essence, we are running Nigeria down consciously. If Nigeria was an individual, based on her spending priorities and culture of waste, you’d easily expect her to find herself poor at a point in time if the person isn’t one already. In our case, we are poor – at least 112 million of us are – and our ways are tending toward more poverty. What can you and I do about this? It takes reaching out to one child to start the change from where you are.

PS: I wrote this piece after I was blacklisted by Arik Air. I chose not to deal with that matter here because these issues treated above are far more important to me than the small matter of  Arik Air.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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One comment

  1. Omojuwa it's quite a shame to see the nation go down in shambles. Some of the big Lagos boys are thieves by night and celebrities by day all in the name of survival. Children dying, hawking to make a living for their families so they can feed while the President and his cohorts lavish the country's resources on unnecessary trips. Some of the younger generation airing their views are left unheard. Everyone seeks after self and the situation gets worse by the day. Entertainment has become a distraction to the problems of the country. Foreign investors come in and entice citizens with alcohol to hide their problems, while they (foreign investors) cash out big time. Which way forward?

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