THE Chairman of the Presidential Technical Advisory Committee on the Implementation of the National Minimum Wage, Mr Bismarck Rewane, has said the rising poverty rate and income disparity in the country are to blame for the insecurity across the country.
Rewane, who spoke to Saturday PUNCH in an interview, noted that, rather than a widening gap between the rich and the poor, the disparity was more between the poor and the “very poor.”
He stated, “In Nigeria, I think it is between the poor and the very poor. So, there is nothing like ‘rich’ in Nigeria because the rich are so few that they don’t even count. It is a battle between the poor and the very poor. After the very poor, you have those living in abject poverty. It’s a race to the bottom.
“It’s like a snake pit. In other words, nobody can come out of it. There is a battle for survival. If you’ve ever read the book, ‘Animal Farm’, that’s what it is. Because there is economic insecurity, it leads to social insecurity, which means that you are now reduced to your animalistic instincts in your battle for survival.
“At that point, squabbling, misunderstanding and violence accelerate because of that survival instinct. So, the Nigerian human being is threatened because of economic insecurity and therefore social conflict increases.”
According to Rewane, a state-by-state comparison of Nigeria’s performance shows that even in states where the economy is doing well, because of social conflict, the economic impact is always negative.
The economic expert explained that the policies by the Federal Government must shift from the complications of distributing inadequate resources to how to grow the economy so that more resources and opportunities were available to the masses.
He said, “Nigeria’s growth at two per cent is below population growth rate and employment requirements. Therefore, we are in a vicious cycle of poverty — a race to the bottom. So, we should stop all these things and see how we can grow.
“So, there is income inequality and opportunity equality. But opportunity and income inequality are meaningless if there is no (economic) growth. When we now grow at the rate that can transform our lives, then you will see that the struggle and this battle — herdsmen (attacks) and so on — will reduce.”
Asked if emphasis should be placed on the welfare of police officers, Rewane stated that the income of policemen would improve if there was economic growth.
“The police are part of society. You cannot isolate the society as if they are Nigerians who come from the moon. Nigerians are Nigerians; whether they are in the police, the army, the Presidency or the Villa, we are all Nigerians.
“Even if you’re full, your cousins are not full. So, the fact is that if you spend all your money on enforcing security, you can only enforce security if people are willing to comply with the law.
“The welfare of the police means nothing. Even if you pay them well, they have hungry relatives. If the economy is not growing, nothing will happen,” he said. – Punch
– Apr. 20, 2019 @ 11:45 GMT |