Is Nigeria working for you? If it is not, then who is it working for? Because it is not working for me either; but if it is working for you, who are you and what category of the country’s social stratifications do you belong to? The lumpen, the peasants, the proletariats or the bourgeoisie? The one you belong as a Nigerian in the four classes will go a long way in sharpening your reasoning and belief on whether Nigeria is working or not. If you belief it is working, the question is, for who?
The class of the lumpen constitutes about 45% of the population. It is the class of the unemployed, the barely skilled artisans, the beggars, the peddlers, the ‘almajiris’, the ‘good boys’ and the prostitutes without stable income. They depend on the aid from working kinsmen who are only slightly better off. In most cases, poverty, desperation and sometimes greed often lead them to offering themselves to the bourgeoisie as servants, thugs, prostitutes and often times as instruments of oppression against their fellow class members. This class is not conscious of its members, as the members relate with mutual suspicion and work against even the interest of the class. They are quite divided to the admiration and advantage of the bourgeoisie who even pay them for further division amongst them. The reason is not far-fetched, if they are united, his income will drastically reduce and his empire or dynasty may collapse. The lumpen is the ready-made instrument in the hand of the bourgeois to divide, torment and even kill the lumpen, yet this class cannot see the obvious because it permeate members in which poverty of knowledge thrives. Is Nigeria working for this class? No! Is the class working for Nigeria? No! They are used more for negative accomplishments than positive—within them one finds Boko-haramists, bandits, kidnappers, rapists, armed robbers, etc
The class of the peasants constitutes about 35% of the population. It comprises the farmers who work on their small farms by themselves or assisted by their immediate families with a few hired ones on temporary basis for token, the cobblers, the mechanics, the tailors, the carpenters, the taxi drivers, the Okada riders, the tricycle riders, the vulcanizers, etc. This class is largely dominated by illiterates. They envy the urban workers who constitute the proletariats. They feel that the civil servants are over-pampered by the state and therefore express a high level of hatred against them. The peasants envy and resent the bourgeoisie, who are seen as the models of success as well as selfish and ruthless gluttons. The farmers proudly identify with successful relatives in the urban centres and look up to them for assistance with farm inputs, sponsorships, credits and even social amenities. The lack of these things is at the same time blamed on the universal avarice and nepotism of powerful and rich people collaborating to short-change the poor. They are equally veritable instruments in the hands of the bourgeoisie and they are easily used against themselves and others. This class hardly knows what it wants or the kind of society it desires; it says this today, another thing tomorrow.
Is Nigeria working for this class of people? No! Are they working for Nigeria? Yes! They are the producers of what we consume and use; they run errand for the bourgeoisie and they constitute what the political economists call abject labour. Sadly, they don’t enjoy what they produce; the bourgeoisie takes it from them using the instrumentalities of government via state policies that benefit them only.
The class of the proletariats constitutes about 15% of the population. It is the class of the clerical employees in the formal sector of the economy, the civil servants in the ministries and even the teachers whose take home pay can hardly take them home. They are class conscious and always wanting to revolt against the bourgeoisie to better their condition. They often agitate for increment in their wages. They dislike the bourgeoisie and should there be any chance of revolting against the system, they are free hands that can be used by the devil. They are exposed and understand the system but cannot help the situation. Many of them are highly educated but less organized. They are confused set of people who often say what they cannot practice. They have knowledge of poverty but powerless to change the situation because their solutions to moving out of poverty reflect how selfish they are. They envy the bourgeoisie and wish to become one of them yet at any slightest opportunity, they condemn the class they admire so dearly. They have all the paper certificates in the world but a large chunk of them does not have the knowledge that can take them out of poverty.
They are extremely theoretical and lack practical solutions to the challenges of the country. Is Nigeria working for them? No! Are they working for Nigeria? Yes! They are the knowledge bank of the nation but have no access to the centre of authority. They work day and night but earn wages that are not commensurate with their input. Every time, they agitate for more wages but fail to insist on the need for their government to do what will make the wages a meaningful one that would be commensurate with the cost of living in their country.
The class of the bourgeoisie constitutes about 5% of the population. They are the bureaucrats, generals and career politicians who have in their possessions the capital and resources meant for about 200 million Nigerians via their relationship and close contact with the state; hence, the fierce competition among themselves to control power. Members of this class are the retired generals, the president (including former ones), governors, senators and members of the Houses of Representatives and states Assemblies, businessmen, contractors, to mention but few. This class oppresses the poor and turn politics into lucrative business. They possess the major private businesses one can find across the country as they buy most of the public enterprises privatized by the government. The earlier this class realizes the need to spread wealth, the better their relationship and safety among the lesser classes.
Looking deeply into our immediate societies today, you find them increasing in numbers on daily basis thereby making life difficult for the lesser three classes. They have their presence at the centre and in each of the 36 states of the federation. They possess all instruments of oppression, subjugation and enslavement. They are the system because they make it work for those they want; they are the law because they make and implement it; they are the government because they govern; they are the economy because they run it; they are the security because they are secure; they are the politics because they play it. They are all in all.
Is Nigeria working for this class? Yes! Is the class working for Nigeria? No! They are holding it in its jugular and its breathing is seizing as the class takes comfort in its abnormal breading.
Until these inequalities occasioned by greed on the part of our politicians, political office holders and the capitalists in our fledging economy are addressed, the status quo in the country is likely to remain for a long period. Nigeria is not working for the owners, it is rather serving the interests of the foreigners who no longer contribute to its development.
Ishowo, an author and development analyst writes from Ilorin, Kwara State