Ala Orwell’s 1984, poverty is prosperity in Nigeria!

Eric Arthur Blair (or George Orwell) succinctly captured the confusions of a totalitarian regime in his blockbuster novel Nineteen Eighty FOUR. Big Brother is the party that held sway in Oceania. The party uses these antithetical mantras to brainwash the gullible Oceanians:  War Is Peace; Freedom Is Slavery; Ignorance Is Strength.
Mercenaries are used to abrogate “the enemies of Big Brother” in the dreaded “Room 101.”   Understandably, the people kowtow willy-nilly to the party’s repressive policies.

Though a seeming democratic country, Nigeria can be said to be in similitude with Oceania in certain ways. We’ve been told every now and again that our economy is growing. In fact, the hitherto unknown Statistician-General of the federation gave a revelation that Nigeria has emerged as the number one economy in Africa and, invariably, the 26th in the world. We’ve been also told that Nigeria is the most desired African destination for foreign investors.

Our ears are dull of hearing all these economic mumbo-jumbo. They are ever expanding but, like the people of Oceania, most of us are unable to protest. If we do, our penance will be paid in “Room 101.” I’ll like to tell the Honourable Statistician General of the Federation that given the depth of our debilitating poverty, such news shouldn’t be given a fig. It was said some time ago that Nigeria – the largest economy in Africa – has an unbeatable and “enviable” record of having the highest number of out-of-school children. It defies my comprehension how the largest economy in Africa cannot provide these children with basic education.
In a documentary I watched, the Minister of Agriculture Mr Akinwunmi Adesina, quipped that Nigeria would import air if there was a way it could be packaged! Nigeria (permit me to say again: Africa’s largest economy) imports just about anything you can think of. It is the world’s number one importer of tomato paste and arguably, rice.
Its government-owned enterprises are ever fraught with administrative problems. None of them seems to be functional and efficient.

We were told recently that the government has plans to privatise our comatose refineries. Really, is it that the government can’t spruce up and manage these refineries? The same thing replicates in the power sector.
It is glaring then that the same confusion that prevails in Oceania in George Orwell’s 1984 is what obtains in Nigeria today. Though we haven’t used any contradictory slogan as they do in Oceania, it is safe to say then that in 2014 this mantra quite suites us: Poverty Is Prosperity.

Olaniyi Olayemi, Osogbo

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