POWER AND LUXURY: The Affluent Lifestyles of Nigerian Religious, Business and Political Leaders

By Semiu Quadri Balogun

It is no news that Nigeria has gained notoriety for economic and class inequality, worsened with the extravagant lifestyles and unrivaled opulence being exhibited by political and religious leaders, as well as business moguls in everyday life.

Many Nigerians have found these way of living by the so called elites extremely provocative as more than 40% , representing 82.9 million of Nigerians live below the poverty line of 137,430 Naira ($381.75) a year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in a report about poverty and inequality in Nigeria from September 2018 to October 2019. 

This grotesque is further aggravated by regular reading and drama-watching of stolen billions in the media, buying of presidential jets and budgeting of a whopping N37 billion to renovate an already luxurious National Assembly complex; in a country mired in abject poverty.

To add salt upon injury, many Nigerian politicians partying in Dubai and pile up luxury cars which they show off on Instagram for our viewing pleasure while ordinary Nigerians hopelessly struggle for daily bread and live from hand to mouth.

Worst still, public servants in the country’s key positions, eminent religious leaders and politicians will never cease to openly celebrate their children’s graduation who they single-handedly sponsored to Ivy League schools such as Harvard and Cambridge with the tax-payers money while our Universities have been shut for almost six months over a prolonged and needless disagreement between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government over payment system, a precarious situation that bothers nobody, as politicians still do their monthly shopping in Paris, New York, Amsterdam, or Toronto.

They remind us of Nigeria’s first billionaire, Candido Da Rocha, who always sent his dirty clothes for laundry in Britain. Do we think, that someday, those categorized as the ‘extremely poor’ Nigerians who are watching all these ‘things’ will not resent?

Meanwhile, the most disheartening of it all is our highly revered men of God who are expected to uphold morals and decency but unfortunately, who now wine and dine with the ‘devils’, as scores of them now get involved in shady deals, run multi-million dollar businesses which rival that of Oil Tycoons of Femi Otedola, Folorunsho Alakija, Aliko Dangote to mention but a few.

As a matter of fact, some of these respected clergies also now own palatial Estates home and abroad; build Universities that the children of their own congregation cannot afford with church and Mosque’s resources; cruise around the world in their private jets; live large on their impoverished followers who are desperately looking for miraculous solutions to their problems; without knowing that the message has moved from salvation, redemption and healing to wealth and prosperity.

However, this ugly trend must be seen as a fundamental problem that must be addressed as urgently, and may I also add, that until idle young men sitting in front of their houses with wrappers surrounding their waists and toothbrushes dangling on their mouths get busy productively; until there is equal distribution of wealth, people-centered governance with prioritized and cost effective education system to make it easy for the children of the poor to get educated, and until corruption is pegged at the barest minimum, Nigeria might be perching on a ticking time bomb.

By Semiu Quadri Balogun

Journalist

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