We are in the age of materialism and consumerism in which money is a god worshiped by billions of people. In Nigeria, as a microcosm of our world, lack of value orientation has made most of us to believe that making money is the ultimate goal of life.
The popular culture and the entertainment industry promote the jaundiced philosophy of money being everything. People say they can die because of it and many people have died because of money-induced conflict. Families have disintegrated and relationships have collapsed. That our society and politics stink is attributable to the obsession with money. Rather than control money, a mere thing, money controls many a being.
But we cannot achieve social progress without having what is referred to as “balanced attitude” to money. In a situation where the Machiavellian maxim of the end justifies the means, which goads the vast majority, is made to hold sway, the future is doomed and we are headed to the animal kingdom, if we are not there already.
The balanced attitude to money is that it is important but ephemeral. It is not an end in itself but a means to an end and there are more important things in life than money. Therefore, those who kill and maim, those who cheat and betray, those who destroy and terrorise because of money miss the point. The love of money is just not worth the trouble.
The Norwegian author, Arne Garborg, righty puts the limitation of money in context. According to the poet, with money, “you can buy food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; soft beds, but not sleep; knowledge but not wisdom; glitter, but not beauty; splendor, but not warmth; fun, but not joy; acquaintances, but not friends; servants, but not faithfulness”.
The reality of life is that God makes man, man makes money and money makes man mad. Of course, there are many things money can do; there are many things money can buy but money cannot buy everything. Ten other things money cannot buy are listed as manners, morals, respect, character, common sense, trust, patience, class, integrity and love.
The love of money has made us a nation of “anything goes” with lack of competence starring us in the face. Students do not concentrate on their studies squarely because there is a lot of pressure to make money. Some of them engage in robbery and prostitution. Artisans are incompetent because rather than face the business at hand and achieve excellence, they shortchange their own training and remain grossly inefficient.
The get-rich-quick syndrome has held the society hostage and we all pay for it. From bad teachers to poorly executed building projects that collapse and claim lives; from doctors of death to lawyers that aid and abet graft and crime, our love of money has not made us healthier and happier than those who preceded us.
Politicians and civil servants have stolen the nation dry such that Nigeria now bleeds partly because of the mad obsession with wealth. Everyday, new cases of humongous theft assail our national conscience while the vast majority of our people suffer. The pensions scam is just one. Politicians till today feed fat on the salaries of ordinary workers such that desperate people seek extra-ordinary measures to survive.
The implication of this situation is the high rates of crime and social crises bedeviling the country. Even religious leaders that should guide people to the path of rectitude have all caught the bug, almost. The gospel of prosperity in purely material terms is the dominant message oozing out the houses of God and the followers are lost in the wilderness.
The point being made is that money is good and it is good to earn it. But money should not be made god or the ultimate goal of life so that everything will be sacrificed for it. It is the love of money that has made the rich to continue to impoverish the poor making the poor desperate. Of what use are billionaires when the rest are hungry?
According to a BBC report earlier in the year, by 2016, which is less than two months away, the richest 1% in the world could own as much as or the same as the bottom 99%. Based on the study of Oxam, just 80 richest people in the world have the same wealth as the poorest 50%. Rather than think of how to rescue the majority from the jaws of misery, the privileged few want to make more and more at their expense.
The need of the day is to love money a little and love human beings much. The important thing is to be in charge of money and not allow money to be in charge of us. The crucial thing is to share what we have, not live in voluptuous luxury when the rest of humanity live in abject poverty. The world has enough for all our needs but not for our greed, as Mahatma Gandhi would say.
Wike, how market?
On February 22, 2014, “The Punch” newspaper reported that the embattled Governor of Rivers State, Mr Nyesom Wike, said as follows in what appeared to be of one of his delusional moments:
“Once the Independent National Electoral Commission announces the victory of President Jonathan, we will immediately shut down the Port Harcourt International Airport and all land and sea borders in Rivers State to prevent Governor Amaechi from escaping. Does he (Amaechi) think we don’t know that he is planning to run away? But he and his cohorts will not succeed. All they can do thereafter is to lock themselves inside the Government House and at the appropriate time, we will go there and pick them up one after the other.”
Sooner than expected, Wike started immediately he was announced the Governor of the state after a flawed election that marred by intimidation, harassment, torture and death, to hound former Governor Rotimi Amaechi. Apart from his agents vandalising the property of those who worked with him, Wike unleashed his venom on the lecturers recruited by his predecessor and did all sorts of things.
The house that is built with spittle will be demolished by dew. That is the reality dawning on Mr Wike, despite the braggadocio. For every today, there is a tomorrow. Today’s men are potential yesterday’s men too. While Rotimi Amaechi enjoys his last laugh, it is auspicious to ask Mr Wike, how market?