How do the affluent behave in the First World and how do they behave in the developing countries? How do the poor feel and manage their own affairs? Do governments owe the poor some obligations? The answers are not far-fetched. Inequalities, have wide-ranging effects that mainly translate into under-development, poverty, hunger, and frustration, that could cause negative occurrences. Citing examples of the effect of inequalities, Kimberly Moffitt, Canadian relationship therapist notes that: ”children from poor families are three times more likely to die from disease, accidents, neglect, or violence during the first year of life than those children born to wealthy families. In addition, on average, wealthy people live five years longer than those less fortunate. Politics also follow class lines. Because the wealthy benefit from the way society is organized, their wealth tends to encourage them to be more conservative on political issues, but more liberal on social issues. The opposite pattern seems to be true for people from poor backgrounds.
Moffit canvasses the argument that children from poor homes tend to be more conservative on social issues, but more liberal on economic issues, tending to favour government-sponsored social programs that benefit them. Another relevant pattern is that children from lower class families tend to be raised to conform to conventional values and respect authority. Children from middle and upper-class families are taught to express their individuality and imagination more freely.” All these account for why the global community has united to fight the scourges of poverty and inequalities on a global scale through the United Nations policy on Globalization. The importance attached to globalization and its effects is gauged by the fact that two former Secretaries-General of the United Nations: Kofi Annan and Boutus Boutrus-Ghali, both Africans; have produced landmark Reports on the activities of the United Nations on this very important subject.
The personalities named above both agreed independently, that without peace, there can be no development; and without sustainable development, there can be no durable peace. Additionally, they have contended that without respect for human rights, democracy and credible elections that reflect the will of the people, there will be neither peace nor development. Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, Nigeria’s one-time Foreign Minister and later, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, who also served the global body as the UN Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, in a treatise, advocated for heavy investment in education and human capital development, including science and technology, because these would improve competitiveness in an increasing inter- dependent world. Gambari, while calling for an attitudinal change on the part of Africa’s leaders stated that ”the perpetrators of vices such as poor governance, corruption, impunity, and lack of transparency would not easily give up the privileges accruing to their practices. What needs to be done, therefore, is for innocent people of poor governance culture to demand for peaceful changes and the termination of politics of exclusion.
In his valedictory address at the conclusion of his duty tour at the United nations, former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan identified four factors that could promote globalization. According to him, ”First, we are all responsible for each other’s security. Second, we can and must give everyone the chance to benefit from global prosperity. Third, both security and prosperity depend on human rights and the rule of law. Fourth, states must be accountable to each other, and to a broad range of non-state actors, in their international conduct. My fifth lesson if that we can only do all these things by working together through a multilateral system, and by making the best possible use of the unique instrument bequeathed to us by Harry Truman and his contemporaries, namely the United Nations. In fact, it is only through multilateral institutions that states can hold each other to account. And that makes it very important to organize those institutions in a fair and democratic way, giving the poor and the weak some influence over the actions of the rich and the strong.
INEQUALITIES AS A STRONG HINDRANCE
Kofi Annan posits that ”these lessons can be summed up as five principles, which are essential for the future conduct of international relations: collective responsibility, global solidarity, the rule of law, mutual accountability, and multilateralism. It is not realistic to think that some people can go on deriving great benefits from globalization while billions of their fellow human beings are left in abject poverty, or even thrown into it. We have to give our fellow citizens, not only within each nation but in the global community, at least a chance to share in our prosperity. Here too, Harry Truman proved himself a pioneer, proposing in his 1949 inaugural address a programme what came to be known as Official Development Assistance.
WHY AFRICA IS THE POOREST CONTINENT
Brilliant as the Nigeria’s performances in the diplomatic world may seem, experts have posited that the nation is yet to be in its right position of influence. One of these experts is Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, Nigeria’s one-time Foreign Ministry, Permanent Representative to the United Nations and who later served as the UN Under-Secretary- General for Political Affairs, at an activity titled THE UN FORUM draws attention to the need for Africa to embrace the culture of good governance as a prerequisite for development. Gambari asserts that “When you talk about also development, we have a role there, because I don’t see how development can be successful without the issues of governance: the rule of law, the politics of inclusion rather than the politics of exclusion,” he said. “If you address the root causes of conflict and if you accept that conflict and wars retard development — in no continent is this more true than in Africa, because one of the main reasons Africa is behind the rest of the world is precisely because it has the largest number of conflicts. People are not going to invest in countries of conflict, and without investment, both domestic and foreign, they are not going to have production. They’re not going to have employment, and it’s a vicious circle.” He continues: Gambari, while calling for an attitudinal change on the part of Africa’s leaders stated that ”the perpetrators of vices such as poor governance, corruption, impunity, and lack of transparency would not easily give up the privileges accruing to their practices. What needs to be done, therefore, is for innocent people of poor governance culture to demand for peaceful changes and the termination of politics of exclusion
REVERSING THE TREND
VIEWS OF STATESMEN: DEVELOPED NATIONS UNFAIR TO DEVELOPING NATIONS
Former President Bill Clinton of the United States supports the foregoing as evidenced by his declaration that ”We live in the most interdependent age in history. ”People are most likely to be affected beyond their borders, and their borders are increasingly open to both positive and negative crossings: travellers, immigrants, money, goods, services, information, communication and culture; disease, trafficking in drugs, weapons and people, and acts of terrorism and violent crime.” But the modern world is too unequal in incomes and access to jobs, health and education. It is too unstable as evidenced by the rapid spreading of the financial crisis, economic insecurity, political upheavals, and our attempts to empower people globally. However, humanity still faces serious challenges which cannot be overlooked. Inequalities, political and social persist as some of the greatest problems all over the world. According to Clinton in his publication cited above, ”responding to these problems affecting the lives of people in every nation effectively presents very different challenges to poor and rich nations. Poor nations have to build systems that those of us in wealthy nations take for granted economic, financial, education, health-care, energy, environmental, government service, and other systems that make prosperity and security possible and provide predictable rewards to citizens for hard work and honest dealings.
Similarly, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in his address to the 31st Session of the General Conference of UNESCO, (2001) stated that Globalization has meant prosperity for the developed or industrialized nations. In Africa, globalization conjures a lot of negative images and we remain its victims with no positive results in sight. What we are witnessing are its brutal, exploitative, insensitive, biased, and negative effects. Obasanjo continues: This is due mostly to its undemocratic, non-consultative, and non-transparent origins, structures, and patterns of engagement. It operates as if the developing nations are not important and it is doing very little to explore the stereotype about Africa in particular. Obasanjo further contended that: How to live together in a world of differences and increasing conflict is one of the most critical challenges facing the world today. Clearly, Obasanjos assertion above, as a leading African voice, infers that the developed world has not acted satisfactorily, in their implementation of the agenda of globalization. In essence, there is the greater need for more commitment to the achievement of the objectives of Globalization if the world is to be at peace. It is important for the developed world to patriotically lead the way in the campaign for globalization in more concrete ways, by assisting to genuinely address the problems confronting the developing world, particularly those dealing with free flow of information, science, technology and development of general infrastructure.
SUPPORT FROM THE DIASPORA
The good news is that the private sector in Nigeria is deeply involved in corporate social responsibility practices, ploughing back into some societies part of their profits as part of their social responsibility agenda. Beyond this, Nigerian investors have in the past few years made considerable inroad into several African nations to invest in their economies, in sub- sectors ranging from manufacturing to mining, banking, education, air transportation and other capital-intensive projects. Such is the ruggedness on Nigerian businessmen and women that some have even penetrated, as key players in the economy of Europe and the Americas; including Tolu Ogunlesi, head of the Nigerian firm managing London Gatwick Airport, and Kase Lawal, an energy investor, who is making the waves in the United States. Recognising that Nigerians in the Diaspora are real assets to the socio-economic, scientific and technological development of the country beyond the remittances that they make to the country. A recent World Bank Report shows that Nigerians in the Diaspora remitted in year 2014 alone over US$22 billion to the country; a figure that could surpass what Nigeria receives in annual foreign aid.
RECIPE HOME GROWN SOLUTIONS
It is tragic that the values of the society over the years have not helped the situation. For instance, preference is largely for expenditure on such matters like funerals, purchase of goods and services which confer class distinction on the privileged rather than on those things which could positively impact the society and by implication, the standard of living of the general citizenry. Globalization with its challenges is, however, effecting some visible changes in the attitudes of the governed and the governments. The awareness is being created that things must change if the country is to be returned on the path of sanity. New economic initiatives have been formulated by the Federal Government of Nigeria, that are intended to enthrone the best practices of democratic governance, sanitize the economy and create a generally conducive atmosphere for rapid socio-economic growth and development.
The 2001 Kuru Declaration embodies the vision of the Nigerian Government as: ”Building a truly great African democratic country, politically united, integrated and stable, economically prosperous, socially organized, with equal opportunities for all, and responsibility from all, to become the catalyst of (African) Renaissance, and making adequate all-embracing contributions sub-regionally, regionally and globally. Furthermore, government is working strenuously to create a Nigeria that Nigerians will be proud to belong to and grateful to inhabit; a Nigeria that rewards hard work, protects its people and their property and offer its children better prospects than those they may be tempted to seek in Europe or the United-States. All citizens, regardless of gender, race, religion or politics, should feel that they have a stake in Nigeria’s future and that their loyalty and diligence will be rewarded.
GOVERNMENT, WELFARE & SECURITY
Beyond the foregoing, it is important for the affluent to do more with their resources in order to put smiles on the faces of the poor. It is true that several rich businessmen and women are getting more involved in charity or philanthropy. But the affluent could still do more at this critical point in history. Once of the principal reasons people steal and cheat is for the reason of taking care of the future and generations yet unborn. Again, our values, norms, and cultures need to be ordered in a manner that would discourage the unrestrained demonstration of affluence in societies that are afflicted by poverty. Regrettably, the younger ones copy what they see the elders do in all spheres of human endeavour. If elders spend extravagantly, the young ones too will certainly do the same and perpetrate all sorts of vices since they too would love to live big in future. This is apposite because personalities are combined products and nature and nurture.
A simple example is how people travelled to the United Kingdom in droves in the 1970s and early part of the 1980s, because that was the trend a sort of class distinction. Then, Nigerians secured entry visas at the border posts. At that time, the Naira was accepted in trading spots like the Liverpool Street Market, London; and even in other parts of Europe like Germany and Spain. Then, Naira was at par with the British currency in terms of strength. Immediately Nigerias economy took a downward plunge, the visa on arrival policy was scrapped by the United Kingdom. We cannot really blame them because that action was in national interest, to protect the economy and infrastructure of Britain. But all hope is not lost with good governance and proper conduct by the populace in Nigeria.
Governments also have gigantic roles to play in guaranteeing the future of the masses through the implementation of policies, programmes and plans that deal with the welfare and security of the populace, in a manner that would make the masses believe in government, democracy, and political governance. Otherwise, we could be going around in circles, with no achievements. We certainly require proper orientation of the populace to change their mind frames of pessimism and cynicism to; that of hope in the beautiful future of Nigeria; if the citizenry and governments decide to implement the social contract they signed, for the good of the society. President Buharis decision to cancel security vote is a step in the right direction. But we could do more to show the citizenry that those in government the Executive and Legislature truly empathize with the impoverished masses; who could literally pass away in millions; if belts are further tightened around them without addressing the question of poverty that also affects the electoral process.
In the final analysis, The Bretton Woods institutions need to do more to liberate the poor from poverty; while advanced nations, apart from repatriating Nigerias stolen funds, should consider writing off debts owed by poor countries because most of these crippling debts have been paid and paid, because of increasing interest rates over the years. Hunger could emerge a dangerous phenomenon for the whole world if left unchecked. It could start revolutions, as a Yoruba saying states that: Whoever is hungry cannot hear any plea or preaching
Nigerias dry bones will surely rise again.