• Friday, May 24, 2024
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My recent trip to Nigeria

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I’ve been in Nigeria for a few weeks and I must say it’s been quite an experience. One thing which became quite obvious was the doggedness of survival displayed by the people of Nigeria, especially Lagos where I was based. The ability to go on despite all that is happen in the country is quite enviable.

People just get on with it, though from time to time they do voice out their frustrations but for most it is just a fleeting moment. And then they are back to getting on with the life of survival.

I was based in Lagos throughout my stay but what amazed me most of all is the increasing gap between the rich and the poor. It is so obvious especially if you visit the influential areas of Lagos. Then you begin to wonder, is this the same Nigeria? Or are we in a country within a country, like the Vatican, because, all around, poverty and wealth compete for attention. It did get me thinking, though. Why is there such an expanse between these two groups of people, I mean the rich and the poor?

Let me explain further, the rich in Nigeria are extremely rich or look extremely rich as the banks are doing a good job of making quite a number of people look rich even though they carry a huge amount of debt on their shoulders. We are beginning to scratch the surface of personal debt. If we are not careful we will begin to look like the western nations who rely heavily on credit to keep their way of life. Banks have greatly increased the wealthy looking through car loans, mortgages, and any other kind of borrowing that gets approval from the bank officials.

On the other hand are the poor or the poor looking. I must include poor looking because I have discovered that having money and displaying the money are two different things. If you visit the heart of Lagos, areas like Isale Eko, Apongbon, Adeniji and the likes you see a kind of poverty that is not real. Why do I say this? Millions, if not billions pass through these areas, daily. How do I know this? Visit these locations and notice the banks competing for space, all in the effort to get in on the money action in Lagos. Nigeria is known for its entrepreneurial skills. And this is on display for all to see when you visit Lagos.

Yet poverty also displays itself in the midst of the market. People are there hustling, struggling to get the attention of the buyers who visit these markets to make purchases for personal use or to resell in their local areas. Through observation you begin to understand why poverty is so prevalent in the midst of money. There tends to be more sellers selling than buyers buying. You will see sellers grappling for the attention of the buyers to make a day’s sales.

So back to my question why is there a gap between the rich and the poor? There are a number of reasons.

•Consistent Income 

Regular and steady income plays a huge role in identifying the rich and the poor. Though being rich is a relative term, as it is not about how much money you have in comparison to how much money you need. Those who can comfortably and regularly cater for their needs among other things are regarded as rich in the Nigerian context. And this is the context to which we are addressing our topic. When income is inconsistent it creates a kind of lack because one is not sure when the next income will show forth. Artisans fall into this category as they are only paid when they have carried out a job. Most artisans are self-employed or working for another self-employed person creating a case of financial inconsistency down the ranks.

•One group knows how to display wealth 

It’s one thing to have money and another to display it. People are either displaying the money they have or displaying the money they don’t have. Some exhibit poverty by habit. Many people have bad living habits. Like hoarders, who run themselves out of their apartments due to self-imposed lack of space. When you hold unto to things you do not need you automatically look poor because they begin to gather dust and a make the house look dirty. There are also people who lack money but have taste and for this reason they tend to look richer than they really are.

•Association 

Everyone walks with his or her own kind. Rarely do you see the rich and the poor walking together as equals. Even friends who were previously on the same level do not continue on that level when one of them moves up in society. Basically the other becomes more like a servant or personal assistant to the wealthy friend even though both claim they are still operating as friends. Not true!

•Upbringing and Environment 

People’s upbringing and environment plays a huge role in whether they look rich or not. Those brought up in affluence tend to display a wealthy look even if their bank accounts say otherwise.

•Taste 

Some people just know how to look rich or poor. I have come across many people with fantastic jobs or sources of income. Yet, still live like church rats. This has nothing to do with their earnings but with their inability to develop taste and class. Is this necessary? Not really, as people need to live in a way that makes them happy and comfortable. But still the saying goes; ‘you will be addressed the way you dress.’ And this is so true when it comes to having money. People respect or disrespect you by the portrayal of your wealth.  

 

TOKUNBO OSUNBAYO

Osunbayo has an HND Business Administration from Moshood Abiola Polytechnic. 

She also trained as a Budget Coach and Debt Advisor in the UK. She has spent the last 15 years teaching Personal Finance in Nigeria and the UK to Christian organisations and individuals. She currently runs her own company, MoneyStart, and is known as the Cashflow Queen in Cashflow club circles in the UK. 

Email: toks.osunbayo@ moneystart.co.uk 

website:www.moneystart. co.uk 

twitter:@moneystartinfo. com 

Tokunbo Osunbayo – @ mone y s t a r t i n f o. com (Twitter)