The city is our plague (2)

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THE city attains dazzle by the exploits of both the government-activated mogul and the syphilitic slattern, but isn’t everyone some form of diseased hustler in the Nigerian city? Isn’t the wild and dirty ‘hustle’ the point of the metropolitan dream?

From Lagos to Port Harcourt, Jos to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, the city extends its reach, channelling perverse sheen of modernness, by raping the countryside.

It was hay, however, that allowed populations to grow and civilizations to flourish among the forests of Northern Europe. Hay moved the greatness of Rome to Paris and London, and later to Berlin and Moscow and New York, writes Dyson.

Hay was responsible for Nigeria’s first brush with economic glory. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that between 1962 and 1968, Nigeria’s major foreign exchange earner was the agricultural sector. Palm oil and groundnut made up around 47% of the country’s exports. However, Nigeria’s position as an agricultural powerhouse declined through its oil boom.

Understandably, President Muhammadu Buhari sought to revivify the country’s agricultural economy at his assumption of office in 2015, and then, 2019.

Despite Buhari’s rural preachment, the country’s fixation with oil renders her a whited sepulchre sullied by wastefulness and vice, the soot that will not out.

Nigeria needs agriculture, and there are good reasons for the administration to focus on agriculture. Agriculture employs about 70 percent of the population thus it can be used to drive sustainable growth prospects via a value chain that turns raw commodities into processed goods for domestic consumption or export.

The government must seize the moment to fund diversification of agriculture to make it more appealing to a vast youth population that is spiritless about farming but might be attracted to processing, marketing, and other business opportunities along the value chain.

The food emergency in northeast Nigeria brought on by the Boko Haram insurgency, infrastructure deficits, and COVID-19, and the government’s response to them emphasises the need to expand the agricultural sector to guarantee food security and nutrition.

But while the rationale for prioritizing agriculture is sound, many reforms will have to be enacted if the sector is to flourish, argues Robert Downie. These reforms must also include measures to save rural Nigeria by the sheen continually sponged off its greenery by the city.

‘I wonder what they teach them in the city.’

‘That’s easy,’ announced Chonkin. ‘To live off the fat of the countryside,’ intones Vladimir Voinovich, Russian novelist, in his literary classic, The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin.

 

Some truth, according to COVID-19

Between craft and credulity, the voice of reason is stifled, writes Burke. I would say, that, somewhere at the crossroads of bêtise and discernment, the voice of reason gets bludgeoned and smothered to death by the raucous din of the Nigerian hordes – comprising government and civil societies.

Nigeria should be different when the coronavirus is done with us. In truth, we have more to be thankful for through the pandemic. Much are the blessings that are very difficult to see whilst running the rapids on the river of life but they become apparent once we’re eddied out like now, the spirited Curmudgeon would argue.

For instance, the streets enjoyed relative peace and less pollution by the lockdown – save for the few instances, when bandit-youth and hungry urchins invaded our neighbourhoods to dispossess residents of their hard-earned savings even as they robbed the kitchens of left over soup, semovita, garri and yam flour.

Thanks to COVID-19, the world, and Nigeria in particular, have attained a better understanding of the essential and non-essential things of life. Nigerians now understand that nothing about the English Premiership, Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga, among others, is essential to their existence.

The African Cup of Nations, European Nations League, World Cup, like club tournaments are actually worthless endeavours, notable only for their hyperbolic chants of broadcast rights, player worship, and gladiator culture.

Nigerians now understand, that, the Big Brother Naija reality show, among others, and its mob culture of cult-worship and media frenzy are worthless to our survival and existence as a nation.

Now, we know how impotent, self-serving and incompetent most public officers via the government’s infestation of the country by COVID-19 as it refused to shut the airports and other entry points in order to let their wards return home from their overseas travel. We also know how assiduously the citizenry could work to trade their civil liberties to the impotent, incompetent government for a false sense of security.

Thanks to COVID-19, we finally understand the extent of the affluent’s detachment from their supposedly charmed life: overseas shopping binges, vacation travel, and exclusive shindigs and ‘statement soirees’ abroad are all part of a perverse, wasteful, childish, performance theatre, often ill-conceived and worthy of scorn.

Now, we know how recreant, corruptible, acquisitive, and fake social media is. We have realised the limits of science, its delusions of omnipotence, and fear of being shown-up or challenged by traditional herbal medicine.

 

COVID-19 heroes

The heroes of an epoch, writes Hegel, must be recognized as its clear-sighted ones; their deeds and their words are the best of their time. The true heroes of this epoch are the farmers sowing and harvesting our food, without protection and under persistent attacks by murderous herdsmen; they are the transporters and truck drivers, traders, and neighbourhood grocers making sure food gets to the markets and our tables.

The true heroes are the medical personnel waging a seemingly endless war on the frontlines, against COVID-19, without appropriate protection and incentives from the government. The true heroes are the street sweepers keeping our highways clean; they are the police and civil defense officers, and other paramilitary manning our neighbourhoods and interstate boundaries; they are the military fighting to rout terrorism despite the pandemic.

Lest we forget the journalists; the reporters, correspondents, writers, editors, columnists, and newscasters, who leave their homes daily without appropriate incentives and protective gear, to report from the trenches, the true nature and ravage of COVID-19.

 

The dormant Ministry of Works

IT is the height of transgression for a government and its functionaries to shirk their responsibilities to the people in times of need. Consider, for instance, the government’s refusal to repair the country’s bad roads during the lockdown.

The Federal Ministry of Works is disconcertingly dormant, comatose, perhaps; for that could be the only explanation for its decision to leave major highways in a permanent state of disrepair through the lockdown.

The badly cratered stretch of the Lagos-Abeokuta highway, among others, has become commuters’ major nightmare. Trucks somersault continuously at deadly gorges at Ajala bus stop, Meiran, Caaso, Agbado Kollington Bus Stops through

Lest we forget the deadly chasms that stretch from underneath the Sango bridge through Ota, Itele. En route Ifo, Abeokuta, Ogun State, the highway collapses in deep gorges at Ijako, Owode, Iyana-Ilogbo, and Papalanto, to mention a few.

The Ministry of Works is dormant. The Minister of Works must be on vacation. Perhaps they await reportage and photographs of civilian deaths along the perilous paths and bypasses of the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway.

The Nation

– May 28, 2020 @ 09:15 GMT /

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