CREATING A MIDDLE CLASS OR A RIP-OFF? Growing up in Nigerian, the notion of a middle class was almost non-existing, we were meant to believe that you are either amongst the upper class or the lower class, if your father was heading a petroleum company, or a top politician/military personnel, if he is a top banker or a CEO of a chain of successful business, then you get the reward of being in an upper class family, but anything dissimilar to any of the above métiers in a Nigerian society, you get the malediction of being in a low class family. Those days there were no middle class but livelihood and basic services available for the lower class were very reasonable for their standard of living, The elements summed up then, to determine if you belong to the lower class or the higher class was the high standard of living, if weighed against the minimum wage earned by the supposed working class and the liquid cash in circulation. Basic conveniences of life then like a cable television, a mobile phone, a cozy car or a cozy apartment with a regular internet connection, all were not only high-priced but also impossible for the common man to have easy access to.
For many Nigerians living outside Nigeria in present tense and has not visited Nigeria lately, there is a certain imagined image of our people back home, if i choose not to seek hiding place behind my words, this image is so much close to hardship, beggary, frustration, misery, wretchedness and dissatisfaction, this image is carefully formed out of the garbage life many Nigerians live in the diaspora, which is bear in comparison with the agitations and solicitations of our friends and fans for this same fantasy land at which a good number of Nigerians populate. I'm not trying to analyze or paint things with extremity, but simply make use of a common sense, as we know clearly that the kind of life an average Nigerian lives before his expedition to his supposed promise land, can never be so much mismatched with his merited livelihood abroad, if we add up one to be equal to one, and we are as well aware of how
many Nigerians who's got TRAVEL OUT OF THIS COUNTRY! as the numero uno of their wish list, then those in the diaspora get tempted to sum all these up to formulate an image of the life people still live in Nigeria, of course without accuracy.
In the past few years, i no longer consider myself as a Nigerian living in Nigeria, nor living in the diaspora, and at the same time, i am a Nigerian living in both Nigeria and in the diaspora. During my subsequent visit and mind travel to Nigeria, i have constantly engage my friends in discussions and carefully paint an image of an existing middle class at which many living abroad cannot imagine, a middle class drifting on a roller skate much more expensive than most living on a similar middle class in the diaspora. How then do we determine who drifts on this roller skate, without going too deep into a survey, lets just state some basic signs of who belong to an existing middle class in a city like Lagos. As a bachelor or a spinster, if you load your phone (whatever phone) with at least 500 naira recharge card a day, but not just that, if you have a "normal car" constantly wound up and you are able to fuel it before it get close to the E sign, your regular monthly subscription includes a cable tv, an internet connection (minimum of 9pm to 9am) and able to stock food stuffs in your cupboard, no matter where you live - As a family man, you have the above responsibilities plus your kids attending a relatively average private school where they could afford to teach them computer studies, French language and some extra curricular activities like drama, dance and music. Then you belong to a mid
dle class and above.
However, in the midst of all these class formation, in the midst of everything that separate the men from the boys. Our queue and bid for the best electrical power generators, hunt for diesel and fuel every night and the hope for an regular power supply has brought us all together as helpless masses. It no longer matters weather you are rich or poor, we've all began to get used to our sufferings in disguise, we struggle to pay for overpriced cable TV, internet and we complain of how expensive they are, but we realise that further shit happens when we are unable to watch our cable TV or charge our laptop, because PHCN (power holding company of NIGERIA) holds electricity to show how powerful they are. Now all Nigerians opt for a way out. Yes a powerful electrical power generator, what PHCN can do, a generator can do better. This philosophy has been the mother of our continuous torture in Nigeria, we forget that using generator to charge laptops is as good as digging a grave for the life span of our highly over priced laptops. Each time i take my Macbook Pro to Nigeria, i pay the price of loosing my charger pack which costs 90€ at each return to europe where i'm sure of getting something original again, then i realise that darkness in Nigeria is not the absence of light, but the presence of corruption.
Its GOLD and DIAMOND to be a Nigerian nowadays. This is what informed a group of very well meaning and determined young Nigerians to stand up to change bad habits. They
call the insurgence "Light Up Nigeria" with a slogan ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. I discovered them on facebook and their mini manifesto caught my attention "Please support the cause and join the revolution. Together we can make a difference. Perhaps, the most common question heard is “Why an online revolution?” An online revolution such as this is the safest, cheapest and most collaborative form of protest we can all engage in. While our voice is online, we are creating greater awareness to the issue at hand and given the small world phenomenon, we know our cries and protests will get to the right people. We need the likes of TV stations such as CNN, BBC, AIT and radio stations to know and broadcast details about this revolution. Once we are successful at this, we can commence with a street movement as need be. At this point, it is worth nothing that Nigeria can’t be lit up in a day but with great minds thinking and working together with the support of the higher authorities and available funding, we will see the outcome of our movement. So join the revolution and tell your friends, family, enemies and random people on the street to LIGHT UP NIGERIA. Enough is Enough!! Join the movement on twitter: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=lightupnigeria. Join the facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=104082514556"
How beautiful. I found it really encouraging, Here is my testimony. I immediately changed my profile picture and updated my status quote on facebook, i joined the group, and i wrote a personal propaganda and sent to those who matters on facebook. "Nigerians both rich and poor, spends billions of dollars annually to provide themselves electricity, in a nation where there is suppose to be a government. Nigerians has been continuously conquered by Nigeria. Now many Nigerians are saying 'Enough is Enough !', Anarchism is the word. You don't have to be Nigerian to join the #Lightupnigeria cause currently on facebook and twitter.
THIS IS A PLEAD IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY. IF YOU WANT TO FEEL WHAT MANY
NIGERIANS FEEL DAILY. TRY TO HAVE A SLEEP IN A DELIBERATE DARK ROOM, TURN UP THE HEATER TO 30°C. TURN ON A METAL/ELECTRONIC MUSIC AND DIFFUSE CARBON MONOXIDE, TO SIGNIFY THE AIR AND SOUND POLLUTION AROUND YOU. DUE TO THE AMOUNT OF PEOPLE WITH POWER GENERATING DEVICES. SO THIS TELLS US THAT NIGERIA PRODUCES MORE DAMAGE TO THE EARTH THAN DEVELOPED COUNTRIES. The volume of noise and the amount of FUMES created by these exhaust and disposed into the the atmostphere everynight in Nigeria, is enough for a climate change, because your neighbor has one, you've got one if not two, all the factories have got theirs, the churches and mosques have at least one, all shops and business outlets. Nigeria has become an insane society. How far can we go before we know
that "enough is enough" OUR NATION HAS BEEN HIJACKED BY PIRATES. NIGERIANS MUST CONQUER NIGERIA. PLEASE WE NEED A CHANGE, WE NEED YOUR VOICE."
One of the notable responses that followed my one man propaganda was a comeback from the renowned Aljazeera broadcaster. Riz Khan ..."Hi Qudus -Thanks for the posts on Nigeria. I recognise it's a really important topic - since it's such an important nation (my Nigerian friends always remind me when I've not done a show on it for some time!). I will definitely look into when we can revisit some of the issues you've raised. It's a shame that things are so unbalanced there. Please keep putting forward ideas, and we'll try to get to them. Best wishes.
Voilà. You don't have to be old to be wise, and a bird don't have to die before it flies. I have heard people say a drop of water makes a mighty ocean, but... Only if there is consistency. I also heard that Galaxy TV in Nigeria and BBC are following this. Friends all, what PHCN can do, generator can't do it better. How can we see into vision 2020 when we are in total darkness? Darkness in Nigeria is not the absence of light, but the presence of corruption. If this burning train ever takes to the road, its a signal for a greater change to come in our nation. WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO SUPPORT THIS CAUSE ?