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Sunday, 03 March 2024 06:46

[OPINION] Nigerians dying like flies hit by broom - Dele Sobowale

“Many people sold their boys and girls for a little rice…Hunger stalked us…People of all ages began to die….Everyone had to live with half-empty stomachs …People started looting, searching for food” -Bijoykrishna, survivor of the Bengal famine in 1943 (BBC, February 23, 2023)

The old man talking is reported to be 102 years old and one of the few survivors of the famine which killed millions in Bengal while World War II raged on around them. The savagery of the war and extremely bad weather resulted in horrible harvests. Suddenly, parents were “eating” their kids. Or what do you call selling your children to buy food? It happened in Bengal in 1943; it can happen anywhere – including Nigeria.

 

We are aware that some parents in Nigeria have been selling their children; heartless people run baby factories or phony orphanages as regular means of employment. It might not have reached the alarming proportions experienced in Bengal in the last century. But, the truth is – some adult Nigerians are already eating children.  That preamble is, however, meant to draw the readers’ attention to the dangers we face as a nation with regard to food and famine.

 

To be candid, government at all levels is not being honest with us. Irrespective of which political party is in power at federal and state levels, their reactions to the looming famine is, frankly speaking, shocking. Millions of Nigerian lives are at stake.  Perhaps it is only a coincidence that the FG, which encouraged herdsmen and bandits to drive millions of farmers off the field, was headed by Mohammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC – whose symbol is the broom.

Present and future historians, writing about how we ended up in this terrible situation, in which most Nigerians now live with half-empty stomachs, must lay the blame squarely on the door step of Buhari and the APC National Secretariat. Buhari started the demolition job on our farms; and none of the members called him out. One official actually had the effrontery to go on television to offer fellow Nigerians the Devil’s alternative – your land or your life. That was the audacity of infamy which has landed us where we are with regard to food production. No nation can live with lunacy for eight years without finally living on the bread of sorrow. We are now going to start dying like flies, swatted by a broom!!!

FORGET THE LIES ABOUT FOOD PALLIATIVES

  “Every government is run by liars; and nothing they say should be believed” – I F Stone

Can anyone remember how many tonnes of palliatives were promised Nigerians in September last year? And do you remember that Governor Soludo, APGA, speaking on behalf of the FG and State Governors, announced that N5 billion would be given to each state? On account of a conspiracy of silence, Nigerians were not informed that only N2 billion was actually delivered and not all the grains either. That should tell you the sort of leaders we are dealing with – they cannot be trusted to keep their words. That is why they have more Commissioners of Information and Special Advisers (Media) than the Premiers of East, North and West had during the First Republic. They are not appointed to shed light on issues but to confuse Nigerians. Here is an example.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Mohammed Idris, in mid-February this year, announced that President Tinubu had “ordered 102,000 metric tonnes of grains to be released from the National Reserves”. A week after, in my Monday article, titled FG AND THE 102,000 tonnes food swindle, I traced several promises previously made by this government. None of them had been fully redeemed. Given my knowledge about the National Food Reserves, I concluded that article by stating: “I doubt if the FG has 102,000 tonnes of food in its reserves.”

On Thursday, February 22, 2023, Mr Idris, in a manner reminding us of George Orwell’s ANIMAL FARM, changed the narrative. This time we were told: “The first one is that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has been directed to release  about  (underlying mine) 42,000 MT of maize, millet, garri and other commodities in their strategic reserves so that these items will be made available to Nigerians; 42,000MT immediately.”    The careful reader cannot fail to observe how 102,000MT, pledged two weeks earlier, shrank to 42,000MT to be released suddenly. What happened to the remaining 60,000MT of food stuff promised earlier?

The story has changed on those too. According to the latest announcement from Idris, which might not be the last, “we have held meetings with the Rice Millers Association of Nigeria (RIMAN), those who are responsible for this rice, and we have asked them to open up their stores…They have told us that they can guarantee about 60,000 tonnes of rice. They will make that available to Nigerians…” Again, a discernible reader can easily arrive at three obvious conclusions. One, the FG did not have 102,000MT of grains in its reserves when the first announcement was made. Two, the government will even have to struggle to provide the about 42,000MT. Three, the 60,000MT of rice is uncertain of delivery; for the simple reason that there is no guarantee from RIMAN to deliver 60,000MT of rice.

 

Instead of the deliberate attempt by the FG to deceive Nigerians, RIMAN’s position on the matter is quite clear. According to the RIMAN President: “No, no, no, we don’t have enough paddy in this country. Farmers lack enough paddy to sell. A lot of farmers have withdrawn services on the farms due to insecurity. This is in addition to the effects of fuel subsidy removal.” Obviously, Mr Idris is once again spreading falsehood in order to buy time for the FG. I know who is lying on this issue because I spent years in the rice sector and some of my friends are still in it. They tell me the truth because I advise them on investing – when they make profits.

That, unfortunately, takes us to the heart of the matter. Nigerians are now dying like flies swatted by a broom; and most of the FG’s utterances have proved to be untrue. How on earth can Tinubu plead for more time when his Ministers are busy telling us lies? To be candid, few will believe him – even if elder statesmen like Gowon plead for him. The people want the truth – no matter how bad. Only faith in their leaders or tyranny can make the people in a country endure years of great hardship as in China and India.

THE CONSEQUENCES ARE ALREADY HERE

 “Death is here and death is there/Death is busy everywhere…”  –  Percy Byshe Shelley

People have always died, everyday, every hour, every minute and every second. Death by itself is not new. At almost 80, I am in sudden death period; so is everybody over 70 in Nigeria, where life expectancy is still about 52. So what makes death so special now? It is the spike in death rates. In about 70 years, since I first became aware of the consequences of death, in no single year was it brought to my attention that up to four people known to me died in one month. The rise in death rate first attracted my attention in December last year when seven people were reported to have died. In January, the figure rose to nine. There was acceleration in February. Today, February 25, 2023, as this article is being written, the number stands at thirteen. Four of my CLUB members and a close cousin have passed on in less than six weeks.

  So, it was time to investigate – at the mortuary, at the cemeteries and talking to casket sellers. With four friends as undertakers or casket sellers, it was easy to establish that, for them, business is booming like never before. The only problem they have is with the low profile approach people now take to burials. Most families no longer buy expensive caskets. Times are hard.

 

A few of the recently departed souls were confronted with choosing between buying life-saving drugs or eating. There were no funds for the two. They opted for food. At least two told me that before leaving us to our self-inflicted problems of food, drugs and other scarcities and the inflation resulting from too much demand chasing insufficient supply.

The investigations confirmed my intuition. There has been a noticeable rise in burials in all the cemeteries in Lagos – involving all ages from babies a few days old to the aged. A twenty three years old attendant told me, “We have never buried so many people in a month as we are doing now. A pathologist said most of those they open up to find cause of death have next to nothing in their stomachs. So, hunger must have contributed to their demise.”

That is the truth we face; and which governments – FG, states and even local governments must face. Back to the land is no longer a slogan. It is the only way we can save Nigerians from dying like flies swatted by a broom.

FUND ME TO WRITE THE TRUTH ABOUT BUHARI

Wherever God erects a house of prayer;  the Devil always builds a Chapel there…” – Daniel Defoe, 1661-1731.

One Pastor from the Devil’s Chapel went to work for Buhari for eight years. While in residence at the Rock, which we have been told was overrun by demons by a previous lodger, the Pastor, on live TV, supported the slaughter of thousands of farmers who refused to surrender their land to herdsmen. Now he has joined others who inhabited the dungeon to write books about Buhari’s “achievements”.

 

In their books, you will not read about how herdsmen militia, about 400,000 armed assassins, was created to capture Nigeria. They are everywhere in Nigeria today — killing, kidnapping, raping and making farming impossible. Their Life Patron lives in peace in Daura. About 380,000 Nigerians have paid with their lives for this particular “achievement”. But, Pastor won’t tell you the truth about herdsmen genocide.  I will. I started my own book two years ago; funding it myself. Now, I am stuck. Inflation and exchange rate threaten publication of the truth about Buhari. I need your help to finish the job.

Their book, packed full of lies, is advertised for N200,000. I can deliver the truth for N20,000 or less. Can you help? Please get in touch.

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