In an ideal society, when two or more persons are oppressed, or are victims of injustice, they come together under one umbrella to form a synergy that will wage war against their oppressor, or the injustice, they suffer from.

However, my experience as a Nigerian has taught me otherwise. From my travels, observations and personal experiences, it is obvious that the situation in Nigeria is that of “The poor against the poor”. In a country with the highest number of people living in extreme poverty, the enormous wealth of the nation lies in the oppressive hands of a ‘minor minority’ of the nation’s populace. The gulf between the rich and the poor widens every day, without any hope in sight to remedy this unfair chasm as the political elite continue to plunder the nation’s dwindling resources.

My curiosity lies in the obvious state of the poor Nigerians, who are meant to come together and vent their anger on the rich and fight them in their numbers so that this gulf will reduce in due time. Instead, they are engaged in a war against their fellow poor men and are dedicated to oppressing and victimising their oppressed and victimised comrades; and marginalising the already marginalised.

In a country where many youths are roaming the streets without employment, the few rich splurge billions of dollars in frivolous foreign trips, buying and servicing of private jets. The poor seems satisfied to eat the crumbs that have fallen from the table of the rich and engage in a battle against his fellow poor countryman.

This oppression of the poor against the poorer and the poorest pervades through all sectors of the Nigerian society, starting from the places of worship, where special places are reserved for the wealthy; neglecting the teaching of the holy books that we are all equals in God’s sight. The poor church ushers, security guards and wardens harass their poverty-stricken comrades who dare to occupy the seat reserved for the deep-pocketed individuals. It seems a crime for a Bishop, Senior Pastor, Chief Imam or a General Overseer to officiate at the wedding ceremony or funeral service of the poor, who mostly need God’s comfort in their miserable financial state.

The underpaid and unmotivated rank and file of Nigerian security agents derive so much joy in oppressing and extorting money from the poor who are of the same financial class as themselves. When exotic vehicles pass them by on roads, they shamelessly salute and wave their hands, smiling mischievously and asking, “sir, your boys dey here o, anything for us?” Even when the ‘sir’ fails to give the ‘boys’ something, they pour their frustration on the poor motorists who they milk dry, despite the obvious that they struggle to survive.

I hardly see men of the Federal Road Safety Commission stop any exotic car without registration number. On the other hand, they do not need a reminder to stop, harass and extort the poor market woman on her ‘tuke tuke’ for not having her crash helmet or to take the daily proceeds of the struggle of the public transporter.

The current protest to scrap the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police Force due to recklessness, extortion and extra-judicial killings of Nigerians by their personnel is another pointer to the poor being victims of oppression in Nigeria. Majority of the victims of the lawlessness of the special unit are Nigerians from the lower and middle class. Many poor Nigerians are constantly harassed by various law enforcement officials, and they are forced to survive by paying their way through from their meagre resources.

In some academic institutions, especially those privately owned, special attention is reserved only for the rich by teachers who are grossly underpaid, while the wards of the poor are left directionless without proper guidance because their parents are unfortunate to not have the financial might of their classmates. It’s agonizing when teachers rebuke the wards of the low class with vile words, while words of love become the sole right of the offspring of the wealthy.

Anyone, who has been privileged to be in the midst of men of affluence will see how they revere each other. Animosity only exists among them when it comes to matters of money, power and, sometimes, daughters of Eve.

However, it’s a different ball game for the poor who spite each other so much and act as if they were made to detest each other. The same scenario always rolls out in our political circles where the gullible followers of politicians engage in unceasing vitriolic attacks on each other while their leaders are breaking up and making up, depending on where their interest lies at a particular moment.

This shows that any political or social revolution to move Nigeria forward is a mirage. The poor who are at the receiving end of injustice, poor leadership, oppression and crimes seem to adore the same group of people who are the principal architects of their misery. The condition of the poor in Nigeria is appalling and their condition continues to get worse. Instead of coming together to form a common front and fight their oppressors, they have turned against themselves.

It is imperative that the poor stop the hatred and spite against each other. They should cease smiling in the face of adversity and hold their oppressors accountable for burying them in this grave of poverty. From the oppressed men in somewhat higher places, love and pity towards those in the struggle for a better tomorrow is expected. It is understandable if they pour their annoyance on the wealthy and influential in equal measures at least.

An Igbo proverb says, “when a man’s back itches, his neighbour aids him in scratching it”. Similarly, the Nigerian league of the oppressed should help each other in finding comfort. No matter one poor man’s position on the table of poverty, it remains a league of the impoverished. The disunity and hatred among the poor only strengthen the rich and widen the chasm between the rich and the poor.

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By Chijioke Onuchukwu

A humanist trying to find his purpose with a pen and a book

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01/07/2019 3:04 pm

This is a great writeup. Thank you for bring this to life.

01/07/2019 3:14 pm

Wonderful write-up. Many people have been blinded by poverty. Preach on.

04/07/2019 4:40 pm

Thumbs up for saying the truth.

05/07/2019 7:21 am

Well articulated write up full of inspiration and charge to do things differently……. Thus, I say big thanks in appreciation to this truth. My challenges are as follows; Are we created natural shock absolver such that we absolve whatever happens in this country? Are we so indolent to speak and follow it up with actions? Are our minds in captivity… Read more »

Chijioke Onuchukwu
10/07/2019 6:19 pm
Reply to  Jude

Thank you Jude for your comment. Your questions have affirmative responses, most importantly, we have become so relaxed and we have sold our mind to the rich. We must do better.

10/07/2019 6:15 pm

Hopefully, the poor will have to stop the fight among themselves.

26/01/2023 4:25 pm

This needs to be shared as general elections draw close

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