Political economist and writer Professor Michael Ogueke took to his social media to reflect on the food crisis in Nigeria. The political economist shared a deep analysis of the situation through his social media account. The population of Nigeria is struggling to afford food and facing a crisis of starvation and Scarcity & high cost of food.
Professor Ogueke observed that this is the situation in a country with a food output capable of feeding three countries comfortably. He made this observation recollecting a story that he read seven years ago. The story was about a little boy that stole away in a freight train carrying food. The boy died when the train reached its destination after two weeks. Died inside a train laden with food!? Why? They were can foods & he could not open any nor have the tool to do so!
He observed that it was as gutting as it was sad! But unfortunately, that’s our tragic situation in Nigeria. He noted that Nigeria maintain enough farmers, farming communities, arable natural & artificially irrigated lands & farm yields. Accordingly, he asked why the people of Nigeria were hungry. To this, he responded to his rhetoric query on his own.
He believes that the reason is lack of transport & distribution infrastructures. Professor Ogueke noted that there is a “long throat” for unwholesome foreign foods! In some parts of Nigeria, you will buy a basket of tomatoes for 2–3k or less. In these parts, about 50% of the tomatoes rot in the farms due to bad roads to evacuate them. Additionally, there is lack of demand as everybody there virtually have their own.
They abandoned 50% of the ones that made it to the markets to waste because they could not sell the commodities. The many trucks transport the entities to the parts from other parts of Nigeria. They carry as much as they can but, due to difficult roads, get back a week late. By this time, half of the goods have gone bad. They don’t have another option but to add both the cost of the one-week travel by truck & the cost of the rotten ones on the few baskets that survived the journey.
The result of this is Scarcity. The cost of commodities jumps by 10 percent. The cost becomes 20-30k, depending on the season, for a basket. Originally, the price was 2-5k & would have arrived fresh in large quantities. If the trains were working or the highways were in good shape, the situation would be different.
In the North, rice, beans, yams, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, meat, dairy products, etc., waste even inside farms without making it to the markets. The other half gets waste from transit due to inadequate evacuation vehicles, especially trains & bad roads.
Professor Michael Ogueke noted that the story of the South West, Niger Delta areas & South East is even more pathetic. Cross River alone could feed Nigeria with food. However, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi & some parts of Abia, Anambra & Imo states need roads to even bring out excess food from the rural areas to the cities.
He observed that Plantains, bananas, garri, palm oil, cassava, egusi, ogbono, cocoyams, fresh & dry fishes etc., rot away in the farms & earth ponds while the people cry out of hunger.
Again, our ‘long throat’ for unwholesome foreign foods to the total neglect of our local natural & nutritious foods has helped us see their shortages as the parameter to measure food scarcity. Additionally, he noted that this ensured we make no effort to pressure the government at all levels to fix our infrastructures. These infrastructures include transport to allow for the even distribution of goods & services.
Professor Ogueke believes that we are harping on opening up the importation of food. He added that there are better solutions to our food problems! However, he observed Nigeria has become a country that uses useless foreign statistics to measure our progress, growth & needs.
Nigeria is more concerned about the amount the government borrow to fix our nonexistent infrastructures. The people of Nigeria turn back to cries of hunger & blame the government for the suffering of the masses. They pretend not to realize that investment in transport infrastructures will make for even distribution & availability of cheap, abundant food all over Nigeria.
According to Professor Michael Ogueke, they use erroneous & inapplicable foreign poverty statistics to demand an increase in wages. He does not believe it will bring down food prices & general cost of living. Contrarily, he believes that it will trigger more Scarcity & runaway inflation. Accordingly, Professor Ogueke also talked about the adverse socio-economic implications of the rural-urban migration triggered by the yearly loss of this farm produce.
Accordingly, he urged the people to shun the bitter politics of hate that have blinded us. He also urged them to make wise choices we need to make to better our lot as a nation. He insisted that Nigeria asks the right questions & demands the right actions from our leaders at all levels.
Let us support & encourage government efforts on infrastructures, for they are the catalyst to open the economy for growth & make food available & fresh for everyone.
Michael Ogueke urged people to learn to get their priorities right by changing their thinking. Now, this should be the challenge before every progressive set the right agenda for the incoming new progressive government & not this foolish revelling on ignorant, petty bigotry, primitive tribal rivalry & opportunism-driven campaigns for positions in the new administration.