Crossroads: the divide

Maybe I should just act like one of our popular email clients, and say, “And we are …” you can complete that but in this case the “we” might be I. Having been away for sometime, I feel good writing here again. It sure has been a moment of self resuscitation, trying to create a balance between what people expected me to do and what I actually wanted to do but I will talk more about that in my next post. Today I want to make a quick review of a regional; should I call it best practice or attitude.We currently talk about the digital divide when it comes to the use of ICTs, and a lot of noise has been made about this, even steps are being taken to building a bridge. But we have all failed to talk about the “economic divide”. I work with ICTs and I honestly agree they are levelers but without the right attitude and cultural adoptions we won’t find a platform to apply technologies. The spark to write this article was evoked as a result of a recent discussion with a senior colleague. We were amazed at the fact that all flights traveling to the southeastern part of Nigeria has been fully booked till December the 27th at exorbitant rates of about 105% increase. Travel by road has also not been spared as intending travelers besiege the bus terminals as early as 5.am only to pay tripled fares and wait for unavailable buses. One starts to wonder where all these cash flow comes.

This can of course be attributed to the yearly ritual by these group of Nigerians (largely made up of the Igbos) of spending the Christmas and especially the New Year’s eve holiday with relatives in their home town. In most communities, there are mandatory New Year’s Eve prayers, thanking God for a successful year and at the same time asking him to bring forth good things in the New Year, while making resolutions on perceived ill lucks for the past year. But how can everyone or a critical mass travel at the same time with all the massive financial implications. According to this senior, “this goes a long way to show that a large amount of cash flow in the country comes from this group”. Unlike other ethnic groups where you find a large “economic divide” between the elites and the others, the money is evenly distributed, creating an important middle class in this region.

Nigerians from the southeast are found in most sectors of the economy, maybe not at the very top, but they always occupy a critical middle position wanting to survive against all odds. They have proved their mettle in the act of trading amidst a healthy competition amongst themselves, creating clusters of “same origin business men” dealing on the same commodity. It simply seems everyone has a place to join a venture no matter how saturated the scene may look. Finally, I would like to conclude that I am yet to find out the real cause of this economic balance among the south easterners, but what ever gave rise to this needs to be discovered and possible replications implemented in other parts of Nigeria.

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