By Emeka Uzoatu
Caught crosswise about our personal and national financial wastages recently, I reassessed the problem anew. The discussants, all privileged and proud of it, were generally agreed on one point viz: the inevitable link between the two.
On the personal plane this is mostly caused by every parent being enmeshed in the struggle to bequeath their children something. For the poor this often amounts to merely genotype and other health statuses devoid of heavy material acquisition. But to the wealthy the list will inevitably be inclusive of items that range from cars, houses, cash as well as landed property, to shares and bonds.
In turn, these children will also pass the baton to their own offspring by the time their own race is run. And the roulette rolls on.
Surprisingly, though, things never remain the same. The rich now often become the poor then, turning the problem into a vicious cycle. Like the panelists observed, most of the time it’s often the former have-nots that now become what their parents never were. Thus, like one discussant pointedly put it, they are often obliged to repeat the mistake of their predecessors in the wealth ladder.
In these times, the odd item that stands out in these bequeathals appear to be the houses these well-to-do parents hand over to their children. These concrete monstrosities are often built when the old set was at the height of their earthly glory. Thus it has each edifice having as many as four living rooms, countless bedrooms and expansive courtyards.
Most times, these gargantuan constructs will be additionally garnished with such other niceties as swimming pools, bars and bathrooms – to mention but a few. Some even have enough space to park as many as ten exotic cars indoors and more out of doors.
A particularly well-to-do bloke was said to have been so moved by a hotel he stayed in abroad that he decided to replicate it in his rural village. It came with all appurtenances: car park, pool, poolside, indoor and outdoor bars, bandstand and underground nightclub!
The way it is, these much sought after allures to life do come handy as long as the going remains good. Trouble and it’s alloys only rear their monstrous heads when transition time comes. And like life itself, this is often abrupt. Even leaving many at various levels of incompletion.
The trouble is that most of the time this happens when the next generation are hardly ready for it. Though the heirlooms are readily theirs to inherit, they are often left with shoes too big for their inchoate feet.
A ready example is the recent complaint raised by a recent victim of this transition blues. A noted money man in his early sixties, the man was caught complaining loudly of his predicament in the wrong quarters.
According to him, he had in his ‘time of ignorance’ built luxury homes of about three hundred rooms in some three locations. He also had forty other commercial buildings all now comfortably abandoned and derelict.
Just like the aforementioned young man and the ‘hotel’. Ever since he was encumbered with the maintenance of the white elephant, he has been voicing his predicament to every available ear. Yet when a friend suggested that he re-convert it to what it originally was overseas, he all but demurred; on account of doing so being akin to setting a wrong precedent!
And so has it become that all over the country there are so many constructs (uncompleted and completed) left in the cold. So much, indeed, that they have since queued in on the ever-elongating line of our national discrepancies. An Italian visitor to the country was so alarmed by the trend that he sought an explanation from his hosts. Rather surprisingly, the latter were only being reminded of it for the first time.
What is however most perplexing about the whole development is that it’s showing no signs of an abatement. While the ones built in years gone by can best be described as modest, the ones being put in place now can be best described as castles without moat bridges. The types that have since being turned into tourist attractions in Europe, for instance.
All these have returned to the front burner here on account of all the money used in their construction being capital that could have been put to more productive uses. Industries, for instance. And they would have gone a long way in providing the elusive jobs that could have prevented the kind of idleness that led to the recent #EndSARS protests.
More so, the owners of these monstrosities are often public servants. Crosschecked, their lifetime salaries and entitlements hardly amount to the cost of the gorgeous columns of these spectacles.
And even when they do belong to individuals in the private sector, one finds that their owners’ tax returns are nothing to write home about.
Yet the discrepancy persists and we cannot but sit down and look.
Emeka Uzoatu, a seasoned journalist and writer, is the editor of Nairaweb.ng. He writes the occasional column, Penny Wisdom.