It has been an eventful year for all genres of people around the world. In Nigeria, it is particularly more sinuous for the largely poor, agrarian, rural-based masses; as well as for the urban, pseudo-employed and jobless segment of the population.
The year started, or rather transited into its days with the then freshly identified coronavirus and its attendant Covid-19 disease wreaking havoc across much of the continents. That at the onset of the year, of course, spared greater part of Africa.
The continent’s resting period didn’t however last long and soon, Nigeria, alongside other nations, was engulfed in the pandemic. None, not even the government was prepared for the economic and social devastation that was to follow the arrival of the novel disease on our shores.
For a fragile and dismally performing economy, in a country with a long history of infrastructural decay, the accompanying, mandatory lockdown imposed on the populace by the government on the recommendation of the world health watchdog and its home-based collaborator, was just the last straw to be pulled for an imminent collapse of socio-economic order.
The country’s unavoidable revenue losses and the government’s determination to withdraw subsidies on virtually every item added salt to the injured population.
In the next layer of events, the banditry and other insecurity issues became more compounded and the perpetrators more aggressive. The image portrayed by the situation depicted a probable desperation by the bandits and other criminals to level up losses in revenue incurred during the times of limited travels.
All these mishaps were occurring at the dying minutes of the onset of the rainy season, which is the three to four months period when the bulk of the food items consumed by the population is produced.
It was becoming obvious and alarmingly realistic that coronavirus and human criminal mindedness were set to prevent crop production, an enterprise dominated by the peasants and few elites that have just enrolled into the sector to be in tune and fully aligned with the drumbeats of the government of the day.
That didn’t happen, because God is Merciful and therefore ordained His rains to fall, and the farmers responded in defiance of all the odds. And so far there has been over three months of bountiful rains and many crops are on the verge of maturing, with some few ones already in the market, predictably forcing prices to begin to fall. This is to the delight of the food hoarders that will now release their dirty monies to agents for purchase from desperate farmers at farm gate prices.
Prior to this time, the government and the man heading it was and maybe, still are at the point of crucifixion for the abominable rise in food prices, which even without the above-mentioned setbacks were seasonally usual. The withholding of the corruption breeding subsidies in petroleum products and the ban on the importation of some goods, including fertilizer and food items to block funds wastages and revive, and reengineer local production were viewed by critics as cruel and inhumane.
The greater majority of Nigerians are characteristically intolerant, impatient and very often hard to convince. Our tendencies to be selfish and justify means however bad with the end are inexplicably rare traits that could hardly be found in other humans.
A bunch of blood-sucking individuals bought and stocked food items over the previous two to three seasons when prices were abysmal only to capitalize on the circumstances of the moment to quadruple them and exploit the people with whom they share mosques and churches.
Some other terribly bloodthirsty, money mongers would rather camp in the bush and connive with their devilish agents in towns and cities who blend with the population to serve as informers, money passages and food, drugs and arms suppliers to unleash mayhem on pathetically poor peasants.
We have determinedly become the enemies of ourselves to such an extent that the army, which is constituted to repel external aggression has since 1966 only been used to quell internal civilians against civilians disturbances and uprisings, and only to a lesser extent, participate in foreign missions, most of which we do not have any strategic interest.
In practical reality, a substantial part of our defence and security budget is spent on arms and ammunition that will be used to kill us, just because we have adamantly refused to live peacefully with ourselves.
When for God’s sake are we going to build an army equipped for the real purpose of an army? Different groups have become so much of a threat to security as to defy the powers of civilian oriented defence systems, and hence the need for the use of the army. And through all these years and their associated costs in human lives, how much have either the culprits or their sponsors benefited?
Every government that comes on board will prioritize defence. But defence against what or whom? Defence has therefore become the most efficient drain pipe of government’s resources, without a corresponding output in progress. That is all because, by refusing to live peacefully; we have provided the crooks in the industry with the right environment to claim their kill.
That all indicators have pointed towards bumper harvest in many parts of the country apart from those devastated by the floods, and given the determination with which farmers went to farm this year, I would want to urge them to resist the temptations for early disposal and delay the pursuance of all unnecessary wants.
This is the only way you could reap the benefits of the sweat of your toils. It may be hard, but it will be harder when you come to buy back from the hoarders and their cronies later in the year.
Form cooperatives and stock your reserves together, you will have superior bargaining power; and the communality will benefit your lot in dire times. You do not need any government agency to do that. You only need to develop trust, confidence and courage, which by extension are the qualities you require to even overcome the criminally minded amongst you.
I will convey this message to the farmers in my vicinity and circle, would you mind doing so in yours? Together, let’s bring the social reforms needed to foster peaceful coexistence. It will benefit us all.
Yours in the love of Nigeria,
Mansur U. Dawaki (Ph. D)
Department of Soil Science
PMB 3011, Kano, Nigeria.