People’s parliament, yam export and other tales

Anyiin yam market, Logo Local Government Area of Benue State.

It was a very fascinating experience the other day at a street corner in Asaba, the bursting town and capital of Delta State. At a relaxation spot nicknamed “parliament” people gathered at dusk to discuss politics, social vices, government policy among others at random. We had hardly seated when a voice from one corner echoed.

How can Nigeria be feeding other people when the majority of its citizens are hungry?
What is going on here? I enquired from my host. He smiled and informed me that we were at the people’s parliament. Just sit back, enjoy yourself and the conversations, he said. As if that was an opening address, within minutes, the entire place had exploded with fireworks of fervent debates from all corners.

I’m not sure how many of us who voted for Muhammadu Buhari expected this type of change that is happening in the country currently. At the moment, common things are no longer common. Garri, beans and yam are now gold because government wants to earn foreign exchange.

Hmm! Enemies of progress at work! What is bad in the government seeking foreign exchange by exporting yam?
Progress! Look at this man! When was the last time you bought a tuber of yam? It is only God that will save His children from hunger and not this government.Indeed, people are very impatient and difficult to please. They go with the wind and swing like pendulum with the situation of things. Only yesterday, the atmosphere was electric and consumed with hype as Buhari assumed power.

Do we still have the hope and optimism that Nigeria would serve as a laboratory for political change in Africa?
My friend, leave that matter! Na change we go chop? The so-called yam export is more of a competition and a show of ego between Nigeria and Ghana than earning foreign exchange. Hear what the minister of agriculture, Audu Ogbeh said: “For us to go abroad and not find Nigerian yams in the market. It is an embarrassment. Because Ghana is targeting $4 billion of yams in the next three years and if they can do that, we who are the masters of yam production have no business lagging behind.”

Good talk. We are quick to tag the country as “Giant of Africa” and number one in everything but we don’t walk the talk. Where is the moral responsibility of government to respond to the urgent yearnings and welfare of the citizens?

The government is doing its best. Don’t forget we are in recession. Yet, the yam export is possible. That tells you that the economy diversification is working.No doubt, the export move was a fine decision but, it has also helped to further push up the prices of yam in the local market to the detriment of the Nigerian people. A two-edged sword predicament.

I hope the yam export will not put Nigerians in danger like the oil export has caused and still causing to Nigerians and especially the oil-producing communities. Because, the so-called oil wealth does not trickle down to the society while oil pollution has ravaged the Niger Delta.

Busy body people. Why are you comparing yam to crude oil? Instead of you to thank God and applaud the government for the great achievement, you are talking rubbish grammar. Never mind! Sooner or later, we will start to import refined yam produce from these countries to which we gleefully export yam. Now, the question is: shouldn’t the government have invested adequately in agricultural research to increase the quality of yam, thereby reduce yam diseases and pest infestation which would also lead to increase in local production before the sudden export?

Are you saying the yam export was a fire brigade approach, which is the reason behind the sudden scarcity and high price?
All along, a man sitting alone in a corner had remained calm and I had cause to whisper to my host about my suspicion of him being a government security agent. Suddenly, he retorted: “What makes all these tougher to stomach is because, the agriculture minister maintained: ‘If they want yams, we will sell yams. If they want pepper we will sell pepper. If they want ginger, we will sell ginger. Just like we buy so much from them, it is time for them to buy from us. I assure you this is how the economy of Nigeria we are dreaming of is going to recover.’

Sometimes, you may want to think that Nigeria has been visited by a battalion of political aliens in government, who either are not informed or care less about the suffering of the people from the way they speak. True, we buy a lot from Europe but many of the things we buy are originally exported as raw materials from Nigeria and later sold to us as refined goods.

It is disturbing to hear that the Senate has resumed its fight over Magu with the Presidency.Don’t mind them! They are scared of being tenants in the Magu’s proposed prison in Sambisa forest for those arrested and convicted of corruption.

You must be joking! Does it mean the senators are corrupt?
Ha Ba! Be careful! Don’t attribute such to our distinguished and honourable senators or else, you may be summoned to appear before them.They rather sit up and stop the unnecessary power show and the political ostrich dance.

Wonders they say shall never end. In ordinary politics, it is the opposition parties who attempt to bring the ruling party down. But, here in Nigeria, the reverse is the case, members of the same political party contribute immensely to the already tensed polity and help the government and their political party to constantly feel febrile.

One of the puzzles of current Nigeria’s politics is that politicians wax stronger and gain more popularity when they are supposed to bury their heads in shame or resign. Also, politicians feel proud to challenge the constitution at will, over selfish interest and with intent, they disregard the spirit and letters of the constitution. What a disgrace from those who swore to protect the constitution.

Indeed, our present day politicians are very far from being referred to as nationalist because, they share a common flaw (dishonesty) and do not care about the people. On several occasions the best they can offer is lip-service and constantly hide the truth from the people.

Perhaps, that is why the nation is in the dark about our President’s health. But, thank God for the likes of Ayodele Fayose, the Ekiti State governor who updates the people about the president’s condition.

Don’t mind Fayose jare, he is just a noise maker who likes to fly the opposition’s kite. There is no substance to his claim and the president dey kampe.Hmm! I can see you faulting your own claim. But why is it difficult to issue official information about the president’s health? Buhari declared his assets publicly now his health condition is kept secret. Indeed, this will help to increase speculations and further damage the goodwill and achievements of the administration.

No way! No one can tarnish Buhari’s image or rubbish the administration’s achievements. However, Buhari, should be reminded that food security is the ultimate for Nigerian citizens. We should have enough to eat before selling out.

It is a little past 11 o’clock in the night and the people’s parliament is still very active. A clue to the mystery may lie in the smell of freshly prepared pepper soup wafting through the entire environment and the chilled liquid that goes with it. It is bed time already? We have to leave.

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