“This country has socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the poor.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
A discourse point in this article was lifted from the “The role of Capital” chapter in my forthcoming book, After the Revolution, what next?
Imagine thinking that the current economic system benefits you when Nigeria is the poverty capital in the world, has a housing deficit of 17 million housing units, has a recorded food inflation rate at 19.56 percent and is on the brink of a stage 5 famine.
You might currently be reading this article while WFH in your cozy anglicized living space with a sleek Macintosh in close proximity and think you’re exempt — no you aren’t, if you’re living in a country with close to 100 million extremely poor people, you’re in big trouble, except of course you’re planning on emigrating to Canada soon enough.
We live in a pandemic wrecked world where billionaire plutocrats made $3.9 trillion just at the same duration that workers lost $3.7 trillion in earnings. We saw the world’s rich get richer in spite of a brutal global recession (2007–2009) that wrecked the lives of hundreds of millions of people globally. The popular quip “the rich get richer and the poor gets poorer” has not been proved more accurately than in these dystopian times.
Socio-economic inequality is rife and you’re called a bloody “commie” if you want better. Is this the world I want to live in? absolutely not! — I want a world where everyone gets to live a dignified life full of all the physical and mental comforts feasible.
If a system just benefits a few in society irrespective of whether it breaks down or it doesn’t, then a new one must be ideated and then created for everyone’s benefit. You cannot be losing out in the pandemic, losing out during a market bubble, still losing out when the markets fail amidst an irreversible burgeoning of the wealth of the wealthy and be found defending the oppressive capitalist system that enables this unjust absurdity. On a global scale or in Nigeria, the economic system should be beneficial to everybody but the current one is definitely not.
The connivance of the Nigerian comprador elite class firmly in control of Nigeria’s Petro-state with international corporations in ripping Nigeria off its declining resource wealth is impossible not to notice, hence, laying forward further theorization of how the global north has structured the global economy in the past three centuries to raid the resource rich global south at all costs; colonization, sponsoring wars, sponsoring coups, technology transfer imbalance, lobbying, state capture et al. Furthermore, with over $1 trillion earned from oil since its inception, Nigeria still fares poorly with indicators ranking it high in terms of poverty, out-of-school children, infant and maternal mortality, corruption, child marriages among many others.
The current economic system in Nigeria needs a lot of surgical fixing — I’ll further add that a complete overhaul would be far more helpful. Look at it like a surgery to remove a tumor — surely the removal of the entire tumor rather than half of it would be more beneficial to the patient you’re operating on.
Economically, Nigeria is a rentier state obsessed with resource rents — proximity to the rent-seeking statecraft means you are socio-economically better off than the nearly 90 percent that aren’t. The extractive Nigerian state must not exist to extract resource rents and deliver its monetary value to solely the elite class. We simply have to deploy a better system that maximizes all the socio-economic benefits for everyone equitably while collectively creating wealth through innovation and industry.
Fixing society is like carrying out pottery — you constantly pull off all the debris, and innately look after your shaping to give you exactly what you envisioned earlier on. Our society is the way it is because we’re stuck with all the debris and have stopped envisioning better.
To envision better, I have already ideated a new social, political and economic order for Nigeria that is truly democratic — if you read my forthcoming book when it eventually gets published before the end of this year, I am hopeful that it can persuade you to join the looming anti-establishment movement to dislodge the status-quo in Nigeria and begin to deploy all the mechanisms to ensure that the ideated social, political and economic order is a reality for the benefit of the many, not the few.
“A man with new ideas is a madman, until his ideas triumph” — Marcelo Bielsa
Basil Abia is the author of the forthcoming book After the Revolution, what next? (2021)
NB: I appreciate feedback in the forms of fierce polemics and criticism — please feel free to do so.