Filed under: National Issues |



The Gap between the Rich and the Poor Threatens our Unity

“Perhaps the best definition of progress would be the continuing efforts of men and women to narrow the gap between the convenience of the powers that be and the unwritten character.” – Nadine Godimer.

Every time a topic such as this is presented for analysis, a lot of things come to mind. But, what will make this topic more interesting to discuss is the different perspectives from which different individuals will view it. Since it is normal for people to perceive things based on their different experiences and instincts, it then follows that a topic such as this will attract different reactions and opinions. To a hungry man for instance, the most acceptable way to bridge gaps is to nip his hunger in the bud. Creating a means to a regular access to food is the best bridge that can close the wide gap between the hunger in his stomach and the food needed to quench it. It is important to know that every living being has got one gap or the other in life, which must be bridged to experience a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.

For most contemporary women who are not married and are desperately in need of a spouse, there exists this wide gap between them and their dream of getting a man and, subsequently a family. This gap can only be filled by a man who is able to meet all or most of their requirements. When the right man shows up, the gap is automatically bridged. Again, when a child is deprived of the right to sound education and a comfortable life, a great gap is established between him and his dreams, and future ambitions; unless this gap is bridged, the child never attains his right of place in life. Now, of critical importance too, is the need to bridge the communication gap that latently exists among people. This gap only manifests during misunderstandings and misconceptions. This communication gap in here referred to as ‘latent’ because it exists but yet remains unnoticed. People are always having misunderstandings because they fail most times to communicate effectively their opinions and feelings. Why would a man not be accused of harassing the lady he intends to express his feelings to, when he is not able to communicate his feelings through articulate speech? He probably has not learnt that it is totally unacceptable for a man to get too close to a lady he hardly knows, and who may consider him to be an absolute stranger. ‘Getting too close’ as used in this context may include any manner of touching, inappropriate looking and inordinate questioning.

The above quote by Nadine Godimer postulates that, progress is made when the combined efforts of everyone is channeled towards narrowing the gap between the usefulness and suitability of the powers that control happenings and situations, and the inappropriate and inconsistent attitude of those who wield it. By this, she meant that power is actually useful and yet seems like unsuitable to those upon whom it is used. Because, there exists a gap between the people that possess it and the actual ways through which the power ought to be used. In essence, she meant that power is nothing without control. Bridging gaps can be seen in another context as striking balance. It is important to know that a gap is the dichotomy that exists between two distinct entities; preventing one entity from interacting with the other entity. The gap in between the two entities is capable of preventing a free flow of communication and transaction between the two sides. Nadine Godimer in her quote was envisioning the possibility of narrowing gaps if not totally closing them up. When the gap is drastically narrowed, the chances of achieving a flawless communication and an unhampered interaction become very feasible.
This meticulous prognosis that we are trying to build up here is going to be based on the details of our quotidian affairs. We shall be looking at our normal day-to-day life as a case study upon which to base these analyses. First of all, we shall be looking at the kinds of gaps that exist among the different groups of persons who function in the same spheres and who yet have obvious disparities. In Nigeria for instance, it is a norm for the people who find themselves at the higher echelons of the society to ill-treat and mal-handle the people who are not as highly placed as they. The situation has even deteriorated to the extent that these so-called ‘big shots’ do not find it worthwhile anymore to communicate effectively their feelings and opinions to their subjects. They actually expect their subordinates to know the contents of their minds and work in that line. They have come to see themselves as demigods, who their subjects should see and tremble. Verbal communication is the most effective way of giving out information, and its use and importance in this era cannot be over-emphasized. It is obvious that, most common gaps that exist between us are communication related. A whole lot of anomalies will be curbed if communication were to be put into effective use. How could a boss in the office for instance, expect his subordinates to know what tasks he wants carried out, when he does not give them instructions on what to do and even how to do them? That is indeed the crux of the squabbles that occur in our work environment. During interactions, it would be improper for one person to assume that the other fellow knows what is on his/her mind. If I assume that the person I am dealing with knows what is on my mind, then inevitably I become disgruntled when the fellow does not act in accordance with my innate will. This case may worsen if I further fail to speak up about my discontentment and rather, assumes that the fellow who has erred should know so and make efforts to correct the mistake.

Again, let us look at the very wide gap that exists between the rich and the poor of the Nigerian society. The dichotomy between these two classes of people as viewed from the Nigerian background is a very disturbing one. A careful survey of this fact will show that, there is only but one point of interaction that brings them into the same fold; the work environment. This is so because the rich can hardly do for themselves the kind of works that are being done for them by their poor workers. Convincingly, the rich would have no reason to deal with the poor had it been possible for them to do all their works themselves. And even while they interact in this way, they yet expect the poor to keep distance from them so that their penury does not rub off on them. The rich are very narcissistic in their ways of living. They are readily attracted to their fellow affluent people. When a wealthy man meets another affluent man, he introduces his family members to the fellow for quick identification and even goes further to offer him gifts. The kind of gifts they offer themselves is usually given in expectation of same or better returns. When a state governor for instance, offers a car to his counterpart from another state, he expects that same governor to reciprocate the gesture in due time. They prefer to inter-marry themselves so that their wealth only increases and circulates within their elite circle. They do not live in the same settlement as the low-class. They rather isolate themselves from others; living in castles and mansions. Their residences are highly secured so that gaining access into them is only possible through their consent. They are the most skeptical and the most cynical and rarely appreciate kind gestures. This is because they feel that, their money can earn them the highest courtesy from anybody. Whatever virtue cannot proffer to them, they buy with their money. If they cannot earn your respect rightly, they pay you to give it to them. To them, “money answereth all things.” And so, this erroneous mentality that is characteristic of the rich is, actually the bane of the epileptic relationship that exists between them and the so called common people.

Now, when we talk about bridging the gap between the rich and the poor of our society, we are not looking forward to a situation whereby the rich are stripped of their wealth and left to become helpless and indigent; rather we are envisioning a social setting, where the poor man is not being emasculated and violated by the rich. We are hoping to experience a time when the fundamental human rights of the ordinary man are not deprived him. We are anticipating a social setting whereby a poor man is seen as one who can at least feed three times a day, and is able to afford the most basic necessities of life. Then it would not matter who owns the biggest enterprise, and who governs the state. A typical African society does not have regards for human life. In Europe for instance, every single individual that dies is taking into account; every bonafide citizen over there is of worth to the government and people of the country. A pauper who coincidentally runs into President Barack Obama while he is shopping would not be restricted from coming close to have a handshake with him and possibly take a photograph with him. But in Africa, it seems like the influential people have not realized that their influence will be better felt by the society if they try to step down a little to behold the faces of the teaming commoners, who are looking up to them for moral justification. The actual impact of a person’s influence on others is indeed measured by how much he/she has contributed to lives. He is seen as a trail-blazer when, he is able to bring the people to the consciousness of their true worth and, how really concerned he is about their conditions and inhibitions. 

If one decides to make a comparison of the American and Western Security Systems to the kind inherent in Africa, one will see that the African Security System has got a lot of lapses that require urgent redress. Taking a closer look at the American and European Security Systems, one will notice that the driving force behind their excellence and efficiency is just the passion to ensure that lives and property are well-preserved. The security personnel in America have been thoroughly orientated on the uncompromising worth of human life, and thus, he is always alert to the dangers that lurk around. This brings to focus the witty words of Joe Liberman; “I believe that our national security lies not just in protecting its borders, but in bridging divides.” That means, a perfect security system is not just the type that has succeeded in protecting its borders, rather it is an organized system that has realized the essence of bridging the gap between persons despite their hierarchy. It is unpopular to hear that an American security operative was caught breaking the law through acts that can be described as gross misconduct? But let us focus back home! Is a typical African security operative aware of his total responsibilities? Will he not be too quick to compromise his virtues when situations change only slightly? How much of the passion to preserve lives and property does he have in his heart? These are fundamental questions that must be pondered over if the African security system must advance from its present state of mediocrity. In Nigeria for instance, the security man who is charged with the responsibility of preserving life and property ultimately becomes a bigger terror than the actual problem that he is meant to tackle. He uses his fire-arms to intimidate the people and force them to bend to his baseless orders. He has not even the least iota of passion and love for the helpless people who are at his mercy. He is just so concerned about how to make his own ends, even though it will require violating the rights of the people. How can any nation make any advancement, when it is yet to address very sensitive challenges such as the types that are posed by its mediocre security system?

Endless lists of questions will go un-answered if we don’t see a fervent need to bridge gaps in the society, for it is only in communal reciprocity that we can attain a state of comfort and convenience for all citizenry. Mill progress will ensue at a time when you are valued for just being a Nigerian, not by your stocks of assets or your chains of connections.