Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The illusion of wealth in Nigeria

The famine in Niger has spilled over into Northern Nigeria, which has also been plagued by the rapacious quela quela bird storms. News reports from local tv (Channels) yesterday showed that over 1000 Nigerian mothers with their children have trekked from Katsina over the border to one of the relief camps. There, they were greeted by a Nigerian mission delivering food aid! It would be funny if it werent so tragic.

Rather than admitting that the North has serious problems (desertification, low education standards, fewer natural resources), there is a tendency at work in Nigeria that wants to portray Nigeria as the giant of Africa, when in reality, 70% live on a dollar a day and go hungry.

The same happened after the Tsunami: Nigeria donated over US$50,000 which surely could have been better spent here.

It boils down to the illusion of wealth in Nigeria. The elite have extreme, Saudi-levels of wealth. But this group makes up perhaps 3-5% of the population. At present, Nigeria is a poor country, staring at its vast potential as if looking at a field of fruit the other side of a canyon.


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