9th May, 2022
Pyramid of Scarcity in Nigeria
Published By: Kazeem Ugbodaga
By Femi Oluwasanmi
The sorry state of the socio-economic conditions under which the majority of people in Nigeria live and work has proven beyond doubt that there is pyramid of scarcity in the country despite the acclaimed efforts of the government to create a corridor for surplus.
While unveiling rice pyramids at Abuja on 18th January, 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari stated that before the launch of the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), there were only 15 standard rice mills in Nigeria and that as at today, we have over 50 standard and integrated rice mills creating jobs and reducing unemployment. In addition, the RIFAN asserted that Nigeria was now “self-sufficient” and ready to start exporting rice.
However, looking at the reality on ground months after the unveiling of the pyramids it seems the government is only trying to create an impression of things that doesn’t exist especially putting into consideration the swelling in the curve of poverty and unemployment which are gradually replacing the ideal name of the country on the global stage.
A report from the National Bureau Statistics (NBS) in the recent times pegged the rate of unemployment in Nigeria at 33.3 percent and underemployed people to 22.2 percent, putting the rate of people struggling to survive in Nigeria at 55.5 percent despite the promise made by president Buhari in 2019 to uplift hundred millions of Nigerians from poverty in the next ten years.
The worse part of this mismatch is that the more the government claim to invest in poverty alleviation programme the more the number of people dropping below the poverty line increases. This is also manifesting at the agricultural sector. For instance, since the government unveiled its acclaimed world’s largest rice pyramid at Abuja in January, 2022, the price of rice has continue to increase. Meanwhile, the government promised to crash the price of rice with the pyramids.
Though, the reason for this increment seems to defile human comprehension but cannot be disconnected from the syndrome of corruption that has eaten deep the fabric of Nigerian system.
In 2017, the media was flooded with the story of a viral video of a wooden pyramid covered with few bags of ofada rice by a governor in Ogun State. While some argued that it is an attempt to create more awareness on the existence of ofada rice in the state, others posited that it is an attempt to deceive the public about the food status of the state. However, despite this display the curve of the price of ofada rice still continue to rise.
This seems to be the case of the rice pyramid show performed by the president and his cabinet at Abuja in January. Though, there have not been any viral video portraying the unveiled pyramid to be “wooden hybrid” but the inability of the government to crash the price of rice in the market as promised during the media ceremony shows that it’s another pyramid of lies orchestrated to deceive the public for political goal.
This pyramid of lies was made manifest in the renegotiation agreement with the Association of Academy Staff Union (ASSU) in 2020 which has created a fertilized ground for the commencement of an industrial action that has paralysed the academic sector with the threat of “mother of all strikes” mounting daily.
The most pathetic part of this display is that most of those in the final academic session planning to embark on another adventure within months are in another state of confusion with sleeplessness nights on the next level to follow in their quest for greener pasture. This is worsen by the daily increase in the scarcity of jobs which has created diverse forms of syndromes gradually destroying the image of the country at the comity of countries.
Unfortunately, those entrusted with the responsibility to protect and covert the surplus human and mineral resources to wealth seems to have ran out of ideas with “try and error method” being applied in addressing issues of national and international concern.
This quagmire has reduced the giant of Africa to a crippling giant placed on a ventilator gasping for oxygen in order to survive the injuries sustained from attacks of the unscrupulous elements threatening her soul.
Despite the millions of dollars claimed to have pumped into the purchase of weapon and ammunition since the emergence of Boko Haram in 2009 the killings remains unabated. The increase is fueled by the increase in the number of out of school children coupled with the epidemic poverty across the country.
No wonder the more weapons are purchased the more the news of killing and kidnapping continue to spread. Not less than 35, 000 of people have loss their lives in the Boko Haram crisis since it erupted in 2009 while property worth billions of dollars have been destroyed. This is not to talk of the “mobile terrorists” attacking public infrastructure.
Not too long ago, a train going to Kaduna from Abuja was attacked with an explosive device with dozens of passengers abducted and taken to an unknown destination. Similar display was demonstrated at Kaduna airport which resulted to loss of lives, destruction of property, disruption of flight schedule and paralyzed many activities at the port for weeks. The method and pattern of these attacks seem to suggest that there is an alliance between some bad eggs in the security sector and the attackers.
This alliance has really affected the war against insecurity and created a safe haven for the unscrupulous elements threatening the peace of the country. A veritable testimony to this is the revelation that followed the hushpuppi and Abba Kayri’s case.
Similar thing seems to be happening at the justice system where conflicting injunctions from the court of coordinate jurisdiction seems to be approaching an unprecedented level especially, in the election matters.
Meanwhile, what is expected of the judiciary is to serve as an unbiased umpire in all matters so that there can be hope for everyone especially, the common man who always be at the receiving end of those with power drunk syndrome. Unfortunately, with the testimonies from most of the victims of judicial somersault it seems the alter of justice has turned to a bargaining table where the highest bidder takes all.
This scarcity of justice is responsible for the hike in the rate of self-help pushing the country towards the Thomas Hobbes’ state of nature where life is nasty, brutish and short.
To heal the country from this cancerous disease, the government must be sincere in its war against insecurity, poverty, unemployment among others so that the growing pyramid of scarcity in Nigeria can become a thing of the past.
-Femi Oluwasanmi, Ibafo, Ogun State.