Of late, issues bordering on insecurity have become dominant. It is the topic discussed everywhere and at any time. Anything other than the safety of lives and properties of Nigerians is confined to the background. For instance, over the past two weeks, nothing else has engaged my attention in this column except security challenges confronting our fatherland.
Take it or leave it, Nigerian politicians and insecurity are two sides of the same coin. Unfortunately, I have to make this sweeping generalisation.This is not to say that all Nigerian politicians are bad. A few rotten eggs lumped into the same basketful of others would present the good ones as equally rotten. I have some friends who are into politics and they have impressed me with their characters, altruism, philanthropy and good foresights.
It took only six years into our nationhood before the First Republic politicians blew up the opportunity we had to build a Nigeria of our dream. The beginning of the end of that promising Republic was rooted in the political turmoil in the Western Region, notoriously referred to as the Wild, Wild West (WWW).
There have been clashes between farmers and herders across the country. But ever since those occurring in the present-day South-west began to escalate, the spectre of the WWW has been haunting me. The smoldering skirmishes boiled over with the clash at the popular Shasha Market in Ibadan, the same Ibadan that was the melting pot of the WWW.
I really don’t know how the name of the market came about. But shashasha means irresponsibility in Hausa, except it has another meaning. The name of the market played out on the fateful day when some irresponsible citizens at the market precipitated the massive destruction of lives and properties mostly belonging to the Hausa community in the area.
Before the Shasha mayhem, the running battle between many Yoruba communities andthe marauding herdsmen threw up an “unhappy land” in need of a local hero. And one Sunday AdeyemiIgboho stepped in. Suddenly, the son of a babalawo, who was supposed to be a Christian, emerged on the scene and armed himself to the torso with a charm-infested uniform. He led a handful of liberation sorties to some Yoruba communities said to have been laid siege on by the herders.
Igboho was seen as a messiah. And the sudden fame got into his head. He defied all the constituted authorities in the South-west and even insulted the highly reveredOoni of Ife with gusto,to the shock of many. He even had the audacity to accuse the monarch of taking bribe from the Presidency.
After the smoke of the Shasha conflagration vanished coupled with the visitation to the scene by state governors who had gone to sue for peace, normalcy returned to the community. But the victims would not just forgive and forget the wrong done to them and the huge economic losses they had suffered, as exemplified by the trailer-loads of cattle, foodstuffs, etc., that were completely destroyed by mostly setting them ablaze. They demanded a restitution to the tune of N450bn. To press home their demands, a food blockage was instituted towards the end of last monthby the traders under the aegis of the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria (AUFCDN).
Consequently, trailer-loads of all manner of foodstuffs, fruits, vegetables and livestock were forbidden from going to the southern states. The converging points of the blockage were the northern ends of the Jebba Bridge and the MurtalaMohammed Bridge, afterKotonKarfe, near Lokoja. Trailers loaded with foodstuffs stretched over a distance of up to two or threekilometres. Traders and drivers groaned and lamented over the lockdown. They watched helplessly and with agony as goods worth billions of naira perished. Most truckers forced their vehicles to be evacuated and returned to their bases.
The blockage was designed to punish their fellow Nigerians from the southern part of the country and also to prove how valuable the North is. Instantly, scarcity of those items shipped from all over the northern parts began to bite. Prices of items such as beef, tomatoes, fruits and vegetables escalated.
However, it was not only the southern part that suffered the consequences of the blockage. For instance, in Abuja, scarcity of some foodstuffs, beef, goats and chickens became noticeable too. My goat meat supplier in Kubwa shocked me on Wednesday when he told me he could not get the animals to buy at the Dei Dei market (near Zuba) where he normally purchased them. The situation applied to beef and some foodstuffs. I wondered momentarily why the blockage should cause prices of goods to rise in Abuja. I could not but wonder aloud: “Is Abuja now part of the southern states?”
Following the intervention of the Governors’ Forum, the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari and the Governor of Kogi state, who is feared by Covid-19, the matter was resolved last Wednesday. The blockage has been lifted and normalcy has returned to the roads. The aggrieved victims of the various attacks have been promised compensation by the federal government.
In the midst of the closing down, the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, OtunbaGani Adams joined by the self-styled hero Sunday Igboho, reportedly launched a #Cowvid-21 campaign. The hashtag was intended to instigate southerners of South-west extraction to boycott cow meat. Prices of cows had skyrocketed.
The immediate return of normalcy did not allow us to know whether the Yoruba would have calleda cow brother just because they wanted to eat beef, ponmo, cow leg/kayanciki pepper soups, bokoto, etc. I could swear that if the blockage had stretched up to one month,they would have perhaps genuflectedin that respect. An average Yoruba folk cannot do without ponmo!
The economic blockage has taught us one huge lesson: we need one another to survive. Imagine if the blockage had stretched to other economic sectors where we mutually depend on one another. Just pencil down those things or items coming from the southern partand imagine them not crossing the Niger to the north. I don’t have to enumerate them in this space.
There is the theory that the bad blood between the South-west and the North is being instigated by some faceless elements opposed to the Tinubu 2023 presidential ambition. You cannot put anything past our politicians. If the Boko Haram was created to serve as a magic carpet to fly someone to the Government House, if what later transformed into the Niger Delta agitation wasjust a gang of goons hired to help some politicians to win elections in the region (but later abandoned to their devices), then the theory may be standing on two legs after all.
Politicians are excellent Frankenstein creators. But in Nigeria,when the monster comes back, it hardly finds its creators to destroy. The principle that the monster usually follows is rooted in a Yoruba adage that says: “If you can catch him, kill him; if you can’t catch him, attack his footprints”. In this case, the masses are the footprints that the killer monster goes after.No tags for this post.