By Ebele Orakpo

Come, are we progressing or retrogressing? asked a perplexed Iyke, a commuter in the Apapa-bound bus as a young girl walked up to the commuter bus at Oshodi-Oke busstop hawking her wares which included potato chips.

“We are doing both,” replied Bisi, tongue-in-cheek. We import everything importable– table water, toothpick, banana, apple, yoghurt, rice, etc.

“Banana? Haba! We have enough bananas here,” replied Charles.

“You think the bananas at Shoprite are grown locally? Definitely not! They are imported from South Africa. It’s so painful but true,” said Nike.

“But isn’t that foolishness, creating jobs and wealth for others? I think the perpetrators should be prosecuted,” stated Iyke.

Said Phil: “By those who patronize them? What do you expect when majority of our people, especially the elite, think buying imported items portrays them as sophisticated?”

“Sophistication indeed! Why do we always choose to stand things on their heads? We copy the good, the bad and the ugly from Oyibo culture and call it civilisation so that anyone still attached to African traditions, no matter how good, is seen as uncivilised,” lamented Mercy.

“It’s quite unfortunate. Why should a country as blessed as Nigeria be importing things from less endowed nations. How do we explain that?” asked Nike.

“Kai, God should really be angry with us for not utilising all He has endowed us with. If you go round Nigeria, you will know that we are really blessed. Is it the vast arable land, the rivers, mineral resources, human resources, name them, we’ve got them all, yet, here we are, with nothing to show for it,” noted Comfort.

“As the Igbos would say, ‘those with buttocks don’t know how to sit and those who know how to sit have no buttocks. With all the resources we’ve been blessed with, Nigeria has no business being called a Third World nation,” stated Mercy.

“We have no business importing certain food items like rice, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, etc, as we can be self-sufficient in these things if we mean business.  We can grow both tropical and temperate crops in Nigeria but we are too disorganised to take advantage of that to create jobs. I am aware that tea, coffee, apples, passion fruit, celery, parsley, etc., do well in Plateau State, so why are we not exploring that option to create jobs and engage the raw energy of the youths in productive ventures? We would rather sow seeds of discord and hatred amongst them and arm them to kill and maim one another and destroy infrastructure that took years and money to build. It’s really a pity,” lamented George.

Narrated Mercy: “I was travelling to Abuja from Lagos last year by road and somewhere around Edo and Kogi states, we saw vast arable land, hundreds of acres, just lying fallow and I thought to myself, why can’t the government employ people, give them hybrid seeds and all the necessary equipment and dam to provide water if need be, to cultivate the land? What stops them from doing that?”

“That is correct my sister,” agreed Iyke. “That will solve the problem of unemployment, food shortage, crime, etc.”

Said Phil: “ You should know that some people are benefitting from importation. Or could it be that we have gotten so used to importation that we cannot do otherwise?  Just like the story of the dog that sent a friend to buy him mat. After a long wait, he sent another person to tell the friend to return his money because he is so used to squatting that he may be uncomfortable lying down.”

This caused laughter.

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