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The word, poor forms part of the noun poverty and was first used in the 13th century. Poverty can be seen as a state of total deprivation. In some sense, it is a state of irredeemableness, hopelessness and complete despondency which can lead to depression and misery. Sometimes, it is this state of despondency that gives way to suicide. The word poor also means underprivileged. Ever heard of the statement, ‘the underprivileged members of the society’? If you had, then you will understand the very meaning of the word “poor.” It is true that the word poor is relative. Relative in the sense that a man with a million Naira in his account may proclaim of being poor. Similarly, a man with his last one Naira will rightly say, “I am poor.” Both of them are right in their self-expression. Both of them are poor based on their understanding of the concept. However, the perception of the word poor in this essay is not in the natural expression of the paucity of material things. The word “poor” in this essay is rather an acronym. The four letters that spell the word poor represent entirely dissimilar and unrelated theory from the original thought. Each of these four letters will be treated independently of the other. However, the meaning will turn out to be the same-a state of depravity but this time occasioned by the individual himself. Let’s take off from here.

P represents the word ‘Passing’. The concept of passing implies moving from or moving away. Passing indicates, denotes or connotes or even suggests a process of walking away from a situation, issue or even a chance.

O stands for the word ‘Over’. This means moving in an upward and forward direction across something. “Over”, comes so close to the first letter P and explicates the word “Passing.” Therefore, these two words are allied to one another but independent in their own right.

O connotes Opportunity. The opportunity represents a good chance and advancement to attend progress.

R represents repeatedly. The letter “R” expresses symmetry and in a simple sense, over and over again.

Let’s amalgamate the four letters with the view to arriving at the very meaning of the word POOR. These four letters decrypt “Passing Over Opportunity Repeatedly.”

Now, does this sound familiar? Come to think of it, how many times have you stumbled on an opportunity and procrastinate? Let me leave it for now-you will say. The situation will present itself again. Right now I am in a hurry. I will not be able to look at it now. On my way back I will take a good look at it – and there goes an opportunity. When this scenario plays itself out every now and then, how will such an individual not become poor?

A story is told of an international television interviewer who had an opportunity to interview one of the richest men on earth-Bill Gates. Remember him, that computer software guru said to live in the most intelligent building? The television interviewer had asked Bill Gates, Sir, what is the secret of your success? The story goes on to say that Bill Gates brought out an empty cheque leaf, gave it to the interviewer. The intention was for her to write out any amount on the cheque and it will surely become hers.  The television interviewer promptly rejected the cheque. Instead, she said, sir, I am asking of the secret of your success. Bill Gates then answered; “I do not miss a business opportunity as you have just done.” The rest as is always said is history. She missed the opportunity of a lifetime.

Need it to be said or should the word poor be reiterated? The picture is very clear; one may be Passing Over Opportunity Repeatedly either perceptively or inadvertently. That is the meaning of poor. Not a state of lack. The ability to see opportunity and repeatedly pass over it is the meaning of poor. Never let an opportunity pass you by. It may never come your way again.   Just thinking aloud and I should be allowed.

Richard Akpan is Head of ICT, National Institute for Nigerian Languages, Aba, Abia State

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