Long before the advent of modern society, communities were run in ways that had fairly predictable outcomes. No one was too rich and no one was too poor. Western culture, accelerated by the Industrial Age, changed all that. One man rises from the ashes, and, like a Sphinx, he takes ownership of the entire value chain of production, distribution, and access to funding. Everyone is at his beck and call. A new class of dependency is created as wealth multiplies on one side, and poverty increases on the other. An attempt to correct this incongruity led to the rise of the working class urged on by Karl Max and Engels in their treatise, Das Kapital, in late 19th century. The lesson here is this: No matter how much human nature is pushed to one extreme, it will always tend towards equilibrium. In equilibrium, everyone gains something.

Thus, the capitalist, in striving for correction, in return for the labor provided by the proletariat, began to give something back—things like healthcare, housing, scholarships, welfare, pensions, etc. As society began to enjoy this new harmony, there has arisen some new thinking, thusly: People are lazy. People are parasitic and dependent, and so, we must take these benefits away from them. People must learn to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. The assumption here is that they have boots in the first place. This is the class struggle. It’s a struggle where there are few winners and far too many losers.

In today’s Nigeria, there are far too many losers in the bottom and too few winners at the top of the pyramid. I think the time may have come again for society to correct itself. The present state of the Nigerian economy is not sustainable. Something must give. What will give, when it will give, and how it will give, I shudder to imagine. Numbers do not lie. Over 120 million people live in poverty. Even scarier is the dread of the new poor, those who are being made poor by inflation. I am talking about a Professor who at bar, earns a mere N450,000 monthly. He cannot rent an apartment, marry a wife and raise children on this paltry amount. A society, by not caring, would begin to make new criminals out of otherwise honest men and women. This situation, which has been with us since the Udoji Award of the 70s, has been exacerbated by the economic policies or lack of it thereof in the Buhari years egged on by a Central Bank that was heavily stewed in perdition. An attempt by the current administration to correct things may have thrown the nation into a roller coaster on steroids. All subsidies have been withdrawn, and there is no Social Security basket to take care of the weak amongst us.

While in reality, we run a very tiny economy relative to our size, that is not the problem. The real problem, and one which no one believes is solvable, is the predisposition of our public officials to prebendalism (a mindset by public officials that makes them think the public treasury is their piggy bank). This mindset is what causes me to shudder about what is coming next. It would be nice for all of us to agree to uphold the ballot as our only instrument for change.

Edo State is this year voting to get a new governor. Thus far, the political space has been inundated by matters that tend towards the mundane. Let it be known to all candidates and their surrogates that the palace is not a campaign strategy. The people want their kitchen matter issues addressed. It is hard to feed one’s self properly these days, talk more of a family. People need jobs. Farmers need security for them to return to the land. Infant and maternal mortality rates are ticking upwards. Cancer is ravaging the land. People are dying much younger than they did a mere 25 years ago.

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This brings me to a sensitive subject. Is our government even aware of the statistics I just mentioned? If they are, then, we should be doing something about it. Our food ecosystem has been taken over by genetically modified foods. A tweaking of nature is a tweaking of our longevity and resistance to diseases. Our food system is the first line of defense against disease. We must do something to protect and propagate our original foods if we want to survive the onslaught. I hope someone who has the authority to act is listening. We do not just need a Minister of Agriculture or a Commissioner for Agriculture, we need a Food Czar. The corruption of our food ecosystem should be seen as our own COVID. It is an emergency.

As the world turns, the Hamas-Israeli conflict has become center stage. Israel is losing the public relations war even though, originally, they were the victims in this current conflict. As Israeli troops enter Rafah (where it must be established that Hamas is firing rockets from), it is my prediction that the refusal by Hamas to release hostages and get a long-term ceasefire deal in return must mean that they have an ace up their sleeves. I hope this ace does not result in an escalation of the conflict. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope it is a bluff. As events unfold, the big question is—who will govern Gaza after Hamas is obliterated? Will there be a 2-State solution to fill the vacuum?

It is scary as their style appears to be yielding results. The United States is applying the brakes on arms shipments to Israel. Will this turn out to be a good policy? Only time will tell. For Biden, this is an election year. He must walk a delicate balance. When I look at the States of Michigan and Minnesota with significant Muslim populations, then, Houston, we may have a situation in November.

*Ovienmhada, author, playwright, poet and public affairs commentator, can be reached via [email protected].