Beware: The Poor Are Coming! By Abiodun Fijabi - THE BUSINESS PACKAGE


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Beware: The Poor Are Coming! By Abiodun Fijabi

The poor are coming with fury – to forcefully demand their slice of the national cake at every opportunity. The poor are not the #EndSARS protesters – those young and upward mobile Nigerians from cultured homes you applauded for their disciplined, peaceful  and well-organized actions. The poor possess no such discipline, no finesse. They have neither the capacity to fundraise nor the skill to clarify and articulate their positions on issues. They hardly went to school. If they did, they bailed out before the teachers could pronounce their names. 

They are victims of a dysfunctional society. A society that flagrantly advances and celebrates the wealthy regardless of the sources of their riches. A society where the government and the rich neglect the poor, except when it comes to attracting funds from donors, settling scores with real or perceived enemies, or rigging elections. The poor sleep where the night meets them – under the bridges, in broken down vehicles or abandoned or uncompleted buildings. They left home early, having been neglected by mom and dad, who were too busy hustling to make ends meet. They are usually part of a large family. Sadly, the poor procreate like rabbits, as if children were some divine respite from their deprivations.  

Poverty has no gender, no political affiliation, no religion and no tribe. It answers only to the calls of hunger and deprivations. That explained why the poor among us latched unto the recent peaceful #EndSARS protests to lay claim to the commonwealth they have been deprived from. They looted warehouses, offices and homes, burnt down national and state edifices, and desecrated traditional heritage. 

While we are aghast by the recent dastardly acts of the poor, it might be necessary for us to rethink our disdain for and the neglect of the poor. To be sure, the poor are Nigerians and God's own children like the rest of us. They carry divine destinies. They have been known to turn the corner when we had given them the opportunities to do so. Ironically, some of us came out of their rank but soon abandoned our former constituency as a way of reinforcing our newfound status. We forget that "Mercy to the needy is a loan to God, and God pays back those loans in full." [Proverbs 19:17 MSG]. I dare to suggest that the converse is also true.  "Neglect of the poor is a loan to the devil, and the devil pays back those loans in full." It is a truism that an idle hand is a devil's workshop. Truth be told, the destinies of the rich and the poor are intertwined. In the words of St. John Chrysostom, “The rich exist for the sake of the poor. The poor exist for the salvation of the rich.”

Beware: The poor are coming! The poor we refuse to take care of today will one day inflict on us untold pain and suffering. And, if by any stroke of luck we escape their anger, our children and grandchildren may not live to tell their stories.

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