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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Nigeria and the necessity of nagging for nationalism

Nigeria and the necessity of nagging for nationalism

There is an old and familiar proverb that says, necessity is the mother of invention. I learnt it originated from the Socratic dialogue, in the time of Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher, but I don’t know why he chose to use mother instead of father. Because, from my elementary biology, the father is always the trigger in the fertilization process. But let’s not go into any unnecessary interpretation, and stick to the necessary aspect of the necessity, because the chips are almost down and Nigerians are nagging on the need for nationalism.

Yes, there is another saying that goes thus: When the chips are down, all the children come home to help their mother. The aim or ambition of the expression is to say, when a situation is desperate, and the need for something becomes necessary, you are forced to find ways of getting or achieving it. In Nigeria today, the word on the lips everyone, big or small is, hunger. Hunger and how best to pacify the hungry, who is on the verge of getting angry.

On Thursday, precisely the 15th of this month, the Sultan of Sokoto, and the supreme spiritual leader of Muslims in Nigeria, Sir Sa’adu Abubakar, lent his voice to the economic crisis bedeviling Nigeria, by drawing the attention of leaders to the dangerous degree of hardship, insecurity, and poverty people are facing. Hunger, hunger and hunger almost everywhere, is prompting Nigerians to the necessity of nagging for nationalism. Speaking at the sixth executive meeting of the Northern Traditional Rulers’ Council in Kaduna State, the Sultan said and I quote: “It would be hard to stop the masses from rising up shortly. It is getting to a level that traditional leaders could no longer pacify the people from revolting against government and political leaders that are supposed to find solutions to their lingering socio-economic plight”.

The Sultan’s statement is coming sequel to the simultaneous shouting from every corner of the country, saying there is severe suffering. The simple interpretation of the situation is that the people are being pushed to partner with poverty. Coming from the supreme spiritual leader, I think our leaders owe it a duty to take the alert as an alarm of necessity. The case in question is primarily hunger, a hunger that is threatening to tilt towards intolerable insecurity, and one that can easily be addressed through the alternative route of Agriculture, I think.

This morning, a friend sent a video to me on WhatsApp, where-in, a lady was politely and respectfully introducing her discovery, from a visit she made to the carrot farm of her neighbor, whom she said, produces premium quality carrot every year. According to her, the high quality carrot, sample of which she displays, as she walks round the flourishing and congenial environment of the farm, have already been sold to a buyer in Port Harcourt for ten million naira, and would be harvested on Monday, God willing. The size of the farm is almost a hectare, she said.

Enthused by the unusually bumper harvest, the lady said she asked the neighbor farmer, how much he spent to arrive at such a yield. The farmer said about two million naira, including the two hundred thousand naira he paid for the farm lease. Despite the fact that I failed mathematics with honors, even before she pronounced the profit margin, I was quick to do the manual arithmetic, and concluded like she did, that the farmer had made a profit of cool, candid and clean eight million naira. Wow!

I shared the video with some friends and comments came in torrents, one of which was from an enterprising lady, who reacted thus: “I also have a strawberry farm in Jos, and this is my first harvest, sold over a million naira already and still counting, investment was 3 million naira, including renting of the farm land”. Wow!

For God’s sake what’s wrong with us in Nigeria? Why should we be crying of hunger, insecurity, inflation and poverty, when nature is already this kind to us? The Agricultural potential of Nigeria is huge, very huge. The country has a substantial Agricultural base to build upon. It’s natural assets, including land (39.6 m hectares of arable land, of which 60% is under cultivation), climate and rainfall, coastal areas and it’s history as an agrarian economy, should combine to push it to the position of California in America. But why is the country operating under the reverse gear? Why? Why? And Why?

According to statistics, Nigeria accounts for up to 20% of the world’s Cassava production, about 34% of Africa’s, and about 46% of West Africa’s, 47.5 million tons of yam (the largest producer in the world), 3.3 million tons of taro (the largest producer in the world). But yet, we shout the most, as the epicenter of hunger and poverty in Africa. Why? Why? And Why?

Indeed, times are hard, but the time has also arrived, for us to borrow from the ambition of the proverb that says, necessity is the mother of invention. We should nag for a unity in farming, with a view to reviving nationalism.

The big task before the Government is to provide the needed security that would make farming safe and secured in the country, through whatever means possible, including the introduction, or replication of the practice in Borno under Gover Zulum, who started the Agro Ranger Squad, to prevent the menace of kidnappings in the farms.

Bala Ibrahim, Nigeria, Necessity, Nagging, Nationalism
Mr Ibrahim worked with the BBC for more than two decades. He writes regularly on topical national issues in Nigeria.

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