I recall like it was yesterday, my experience serving my country on the platform of The National Youth Service Corps, how at various times and in different manners, we (the corps members) were reminded that job employment was only certain for people who have ‘connections’, therefore the rest of us should work towards attaining one skill or the other during our NYSC program. Skills they implied was the only way we could earn a living seeing as the ‘Connected’ corps members didn’t need skills earn a living or to gain employment. In our Local Government Inspector’s words “There are some of you who have the hands of man upon them (connections), and there are those waiting for the hand of God (chance), if you are among those waiting for the hand of God (chance), take this time to learn something”.
Elitism has always been “a thing” in Nigeria, and if you are from the middle or lower class, you would most likely have experienced it personally; Maybe going to get your driver’s license and having to wait hours, meanwhile a celebrity or a rich person walks in, tips the right people, and viola!, they are leaving a few minutes after with the driver’s license you have been standing on a non-progressive queue for hours to get, a couple more hours on that queue and you slowly realize you may have to come back the next day to get yours; Or being refused admission into a University or Secondary school, despite qualifying by scores and documentation, and then finding out that someone who failed to qualify for admission by scores or documentation gained admission into the same school for that exact course of study based on “Connections”. Instances and real life examples of elitism abound, such that they have slowly become the norm in our society, so much that quite a number of people will call you a ‘hater’ for trying to question the “status quo”, primarily because instead of seeking equality, those in a place of disadvantage would rather look forward to the time when they will also be influential enough to wield such power.
The truth however is that not everyone will be able to wield such power, and it is grossly unfair that the majority is treated with little to no respect, and offered limited opportunities. The problem of elitism shows exactly why the rich keeps get richer, and the poor getting poorer. It is also why in some cases, we have incompetent people in places of authority, like in government and several Institutions with foundational power, due to the fact that such positions are gotten based on “connection” rather than on merit; while privileged incompetent folks continue to be in charge of our economy and politics, the less privileged which include a great number of competent, underprivileged folks continue to waste away, or even leave the country as soon as chance allows for better opportunities elsewhere.
The future of the country continues to dwindle due to lack of regard for law and order; Elitism clearly shows that the rich are above the law, and that the only crime you can commit as a citizen is to be poor. What is the essence of the law when the elites are excluded from it? How are we supposed to achieve an orderly society when influential people are clearly above the law? This does not only create a wide gap between the elites and the masses, it also sends a message that it is okay to take a piss on the law once you know the right people. How then is the country supposed to improve if the law doesn’t bind all the citizens equally?
The value that our society places on money is appalling, and it also explains why young people are so desperate to make money these days, even by fraudulent means. Since money means you are above the law, then it makes perfect sense to try to make enough of it no matter the means. After all, we live in a society that justifies things like cyber-crimes, while traits like honesty and hard work remain undervalued because money is the principal thing.
This is not an attack against the elite or privileged, it is simply a request for the urgent reform of our values starting with those of the elite-serving society. Elitism is not a positive trait of a country that has plans to move forward in development. In saner climes, masses check the excesses of the elites, and they question their actions and inactions with righteous vigor. Toiling day after day at work and in relationships as building blocks to a time when we can also abuse privilege shows selfishness and a myopic view of life and what it entails, instead we should be focused on creating a society where people are treated equally; given equal opportunity to contribute their quota to a better world.