.Nigeria

By Gbenro Olajuyigbe

“the spirit of truth and the spirit of freedom – these are the pillars of society” – Henrik Ibsen

It is a common saying among the Yorubas that if you remove hunger from hardship, the suffering will be lesser (Bi ebi ba kuro ninu ise, ise buse). Access to food is indeed fundamental in the actualization and protection of rights. It is such important to the extent that rights to life, a cardinal right is hardly sustainable in the midst of hunger. Hence, access to food is a security issue. A hungry man is an angry man.

An angry man is a threat to others and by extension to the larger society! It can be argued that the country is in crisis today because it can no longer feed its population.

It can no longer feed its population because of pervasive insecurity that is ubiquitous and has prevented farmers from accessing their farms or even harvesting their crops. This strikes a deadly blow on the constitution that envisaged ‘welfare and security of the people as the very purpose of government.

While the government of President Mohammadu Buhari, particularly during his first tenure, under the then Minister of Agriculture, Mr Audu Ogbe did well in terms of supporting farmers, the same can not be said under his second term.

He has returned to the sophistry of complaints and the gospel of going back to land! Who goes t farm in a country where farmers are being killed in droves on daily basis by unchecked murderous terrorists? Who goes to farm in a country where kidnappers have carved out forest and farmlands as their habitual residence and heritage? Who goes to farm in a country where one is not allowed to reap fruits of labour without paying taxes to callous criminals? Who goes to farm in a country where the is no infrastructure, particularly security infrastructure to support farming? This administration has done little in responding to the humongous security challenges we have.

It is said that a government that made diversification of the economy as the cardinal stone of its administration is today still fixated on oil. It has default lines to explain its failure in every sector.

It is either “sixteen years of PDP” or “we met oil price at a low price when we came in”. Still talking of sixteen years of PDP after spending nearly seven years in power with little or nothing to show for it smacks of gross mediocrity and lack of capacity for problem-solving. President Buhari should own his failure and stop blaming Oil Price for his incurable capacity deficiency.

This lie has gone on for too long.  Former President Olusegun Obasanjo met Oil Price in a worse state than President Buhari when he assumed office but never allowed that to become his default ringing tone. He didn’t borrow but rather cleared off the national debt that Nigeria was owing Paris Club, London Club and a host of others and ended the burden of slavery.

Enough of emotional blackmail in an attempt to hide gross incompetence!

Prices in the first (1st) four years of  President Obasanjo and President Buhari as sourced from OPEC appeared thus: Under Obasanjo – 1999-2003 1999- $17.44, 2000-$27.6, 2001-$23.12, 2002-$24.36 and 2003-$28.1.Under President Buhari, 2015-2019: 2015-$49.49, 2016-$40.76, 2017-$52.51, 2018-$69.78 and 2019-$64.04. A people that chose a new government over and above the previous one do not deserve excuses in return for the trust and confidence reposed in the new government. If the old covenant was good, they would not have replaced it with the new.

The vote for Buhari’s presidency was the vote of no confidence in the previous government of the PDP. It is taking for a ride by the incumbent government to be hanging the clothes of poor performance on the door of sixteen years of PDP.

The problems with the incumbent government and its policies are that they are often not thought backed, not people-driven and ridden with the inability to drive national integration or even build national consensus. People are hungry and you go agog with building an artificial pyramid.

The groundnut pyramid of the first republic was not built. It was a noticeable scene observed at the point of export after meeting local demand.

Building an allegorical rice pyramid amidst people trapped in the bottomless pit of excruciating hunger is witchcraft. How else one would explain the eating of bones by a butcher’s child? Validation of pyramidal surplus is better done in kitchens of the vulnerable and poor who are among the 12.6% who are habitually hungry and 37% Nigerians that go to bed hungry.

Authentic pyramids are usually from the spillover of production after home consumption has been met. It’s usually to signal export readiness, not for the boastful roadshow.

We can even argue it with a lot of what-ifs? What if the bags are stuffed with COVID gifted rice? What if they are from confiscated rice by Custom? What if they are re-bagged? What if………? Stop the ifs by flooding marketplaces with real rice at the right price. Food security is validated with evidence of availability, accessibility and affordability, not by pyramid in the valley of hunger! When the children are hungry, it is the responsibility of the parents, particularly the father to feed them.

It is obvious that the responsibility to ensure food security and other aspects of security rest squarely on the President’s desk.

I do not sympathize with him even when he said in a recent interview that he had to work between six and eight hours at his age. He asked for the job! I was rather scandalized. A President’s job is a 24-hour job and the President knew his age before contesting the election. The lesson from this is that we must be wary of whoever we want to elect into offices.

All parameters must be laid on the table and interrogated. For example, why should a nation elect a man who nearly all his disciples are backsliding? That is a pointer to the fact that no sanctuary of sainthood was intended by that relationship.

It was the relationship of vested interests. A case of eleven Judases among twelve disciples is an indicator that the ‘rabbi’ is far from the Jesuit philosophy of righteousness. A devil could be smelt, odious and repulsive, to even the selected demons! Nigeria is on the march again, looking for President. Smell the coffee before staking your honour and votes for someone. In the end, a people that elect rudderless rulers with their eyes widely deserve what they got! They deserve a pyramid of rice in the valley of hunger!

GbenroOlajuyigbe is the Executive Director, of Emergency & Risk Alert Initiative

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