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In recent times, Nigeria has repeatedly featured in the news as one of the poorest countries of the world. Precisely, in far away South Africa, the British Prime Minister, Mrs. Theresa May opined that Nigeria is the capital of the World's poorest people.

In recent times, Nigeria has repeatedly featured in the news as one of the poorest countries of the world. Precisely, in far away South Africa, the British Prime Minister, Mrs. Theresa May opined that Nigeria is the capital of the World's poorest people.

Her assertion was confirmed by another international personality who said that Nigeria is the home of most populous poor people of the world. The observations made by these people are foolproof and incontrovertible statements of fact well known even to Nigerians, to whom it is a luxury not to live in squalor.
Twenty one years ago and precisely in 1997, in an article titled “Can we bridge the gap between the Rich and the Poor” written by this writer and read in the Imo Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) Radio as news talk on 26/8/97 and also published in the Nigeria Statesman Newspaper of 7/11/97, the Reader is reminded that poverty is aptly recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a disease and listed with code no 259.5 in the international classification of diseases. The WHO further described it as the greatest cause of ill-health. It must be noted that poverty is usually associated with: malnutrition, starvation, dirtiness, illiteracy, ignorance, stress, infection and social cum mental maladjustment all of which are symptomatic of poverty complex. Today, the primary bane of Nigerians remain poverty and poverty complex which predispose one to inability to access adequate Medicare, good nutrition and good housing facilities culminating in short life span. Little wonder mortuaries are becoming increasingly common and found here and there and many people no longer live long enough to see their grand children while the youth are prone to high rate of pre-senility.
The reason for the comparatively average short life spam of about 45 years experienced by Africans, unlike people of other continents exemplified by the Japanese is not far to seek when one recalls the aphorism “mens sana in corpora sano” which means a healthy mind in a healthy body. As a matter of emphasis, the Japanese are said to have an average life span of about 79 years. Their average maternal mortality rate is allegedly about 22.9 per 100,000 live births when that of Europe is about 50 per 199.9 live births in contradistinction to that of Africa which is woefully about 500-1500 per 100,000 live births.
The questions staring at us now is can we meet up with the people of other continents vis-à-vis the resultant cycle of vicious chronic poverty of ours. It has often been said that we are living at a less than two dollar per capita per day. The irony is that we have all that it takes to be rich in this country in view of our mineral resources particularly oil wealth, quality man power to re-engineer our economy and robust legislatures to make impactful laws as well as seasoned technocrats to control the administrative machinery of the state in addition to our agricultural potentialities. It is indeed unfortunate that we cannot anchor our hope on these where the character and integrity of our leaders are questionable. In the first place, our leaders are well exposed and experienced but would not for reasons bordering on corruption, (erstwhile British Prime Minister Mr. Michael Cameron revealed that we are fantastically corrupt), credibility gap, mischief, selfishness, impunity, cluelessness, insensitivity and avarice to effect or initiate any worthwhile changes that would benefit the generality of the populace. Has anyone wondered why, all our leaders see in their frequent visits to foreign countries cannot be replicated here?
It is for instance ridiculous that rather than establish an adequate health system here, they would rather prefer to travel overseas even with tax payers' money for their medical problems. Equally rather than let money circulate here by approving reasonable minimum wage as against subsistence wages and paying same workers and pensioners as at when due or even establish more and more industries to create room for employment, they would misappropriate or illegally stash the money abroad where the people in whose country the money is stashed away would use it to develop their own economy.
Now that the general election is by the corner, the onus lies on the masses to turn the table around for good by ensuring that they go all out for their permanent voters cards (PVC) and insist that only political office aspirants devoid of the above vices are elected through avoiding: unnecessary gratification, nepotism, compromise, imbibing false propaganda and selling of their votes. Our votes will constitute the panacea for our ailments and will determine our future and therefore all thumb printing and voting, on the election day after a prospective voters has been cleared if any corrosive liquid or acid with which to cause some mischief on the votes cast, must be done right inside the polling booth; outside the watchful eyes of all and sundry- party agents inclusive to ensure that people vote freely and conscientiously. Original copies of result must be in handy at polling booths and collation centres to avoid a situation where results are written and announced before collation is over.
By Chief Golden Ibezim, Public Health Consultant 08033248994

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