Alleviating Poverty In The Society —Isaac Asabor


It was John F. Kennedy that said that “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich”. Giving meaning this saying, the World Summit for Social Development was convened by the United Nations in Copenhagen in March 1995 on poverty, unemployment and social disintegration. It is a shame on our global leaders that the social problem they tried to surmount 17 years ago still exists in all countries, particularly in African and Asian countries.

In as much as one would agree with the fact that the social problems of poverty, unemployment and social integration are collectively a cog in the wheel of social development, it would be germane in this context to conjecture that they are intertwined but poverty still remains the worst of all the social problems. It is at the root of other social problems.

A popular aphorism succinctly describes poverty as a disease. No doubt, it is a disease in the sense that it incapacitates its victim’s abilities, talent, intellect, dream, ambition, goal, efforts, performance, plan, self respect, self awareness and self confidence. Another aphorism couched in philosophical term says “A man is not poor everyday”. In other words, a man is only poor on the particular day he could not fend for himself and his family.

No matter how African Traditional Philosophers want people to see poverty, the fact remains that once a person is poverty stricken, no matter the pressure from his I-can-do-it spirit hardly can he succeed in any endeavour except there is a divine intervention or “mother luck” on his side. Poverty, no doubt, has rendered many Nigerians absolutely hopeless and despondent. Many cannot buy things they want, many cannot pursue their goals and many cannot exercise their inalienable right to freedom of speech for the fact that it would not be accepted because of their poor status.

Many poor individuals in Christendom see poverty as the handiwork of those demonic elements in the spiritual realm. This trite fact is beyond dispute; after all it has been written that “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of darkness of this world and against spiritual wickedness in high places”.

Poverty is a serious issue to contend with that most Christians are wont to attack it in a violent manner. After all, the word of God says that “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force”.

Have you ever observed a deliverance service against poverty? If you have not you are missing a lot. Paul C. Jong in one of his books on Holy Spirit captured the scenario thus: “Those who attend such meetings tend to cry out instead of uttering prayers. When the atmosphere reaches its feverish peak, people scream out and faint in every corner. However, the preacher on stage keeps the microphone to his lips and makes the sound of the wind while he guides people ever deeper into religious fanaticism. He prays by speaking in strange tongues and jumps off stage to lay his hands on people’s heads”. No doubt, the foregoing aptly paints the picture of a typical deliverance service towards the casting out of demons that were satanically assigned to unleash the affliction of poverty on their victims. Poverty is truly a disease. To free oneself from its stranglehold demands both spiritual and physical efforts.

Agreed, the problem of poverty may sometimes be spiritual, but have we asked if our leaders are truly putting the people first in their socio-economic enhancement programme? Forces and elements in the spiritual realm may not be totally responsible for the preponderance of poverty. Poverty may have been exacerbated in our society as a result of the seeming ineptitude, insensitivity, official malfeasance, corruption, tribalism, nepotism, materialism and any other factor which our leaders wittingly or unwittingly exhibit in the course of carrying out their official responsibilities.

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On the part of some of us, we have seemingly accepted poverty to be insurmountable that we no longer fight it through education, skill acquisition and wealth creation. The Bible in the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 11 verse 4 says: “He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.” Most of us have brilliant ideas that would definitely liberate us from poverty but the problem is that in the context of the foregoing scripture we have for long been observing the wind and regarding the cloud. This attitude, no doubt, have left us poorer. Most of us have refused to swim against the stubborn tide of poverty. Nelson Mandela in his quote on the fight against poverty, said: “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” Put in another way, poverty is a choice. Many people in our country see the government as being responsible for their breakfast, lunch and dinner. To me, it is a wrong line of thinking. This attitude has made many potential entrepreneurs to remain salary earners.

Be that as it may, the truth remains that the plight of many Nigerians is undoubtedly a paradox. Or how else can one explain the plight of people whose country is richly blessed in every sense of the word struggling with poverty and unemployment?

There is a scripture in the bible that says “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn”. The question now is, are some of us who are opportune, lucky or blessed with material wealth righteous when dealing with the poor?

Again, those of us that are entrusted with public fund, are we handling it righteously without betraying the trust and confidence which the people repose in us?

If the environment is conducive many Nigerians, particularly the youths, would be able to realize their potentials, build self-confidence and live a life that would be full of dignity, achievement and fulfilment. Have we truly asked ourselves the reason why our youths in the northern part of the country are easily recruited into the Boko Haram sect and other evil associations?

A situation where some Nigerians are swimming in questionable opulence whereas others are daily demoralized by poverty does not paint a picture of a democratic government that is striving towards the attainment of an ideal social justice and equity for her citizenry.

Still in the same nexus, our leaders should shun corruption as much as possible in order to pave way for good governance that would, no doubt, reduce poverty, unemployment and social disintegration.

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