By Isaac Asabor
There are times a man considers to be auspicious for him to reminisce about his past as such soul searching isometric often provides the opportunity to reflect about what he has gone through, and what he is contemporarily experiencing. In as much as such moment provides the means for reflecting on bygone mistakes, and in some cases offer the pedestal for advice to be given to anyone that aims to toe such trajectory that often leaves anyone with regrets, it has remained expedient moment as Irish statesman, Edmund Burke is often misquoted to have said, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”
You may have been wondering why this writer is sounding nostalgic in this context. The reason would not in any way be farfetched after reading this piece that is anchored on a personal experience. It cannot be farfetched after reading about my experience in hunger strike as a teenager and student at Oghada Grammar School, Oghada, in present day Orhionmwon local government in Edo State, and how my experience finds expression in the intransigency that characterize the belligerent decision of the leaderships of the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria (AUFCDN) and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) to block supply of food stuff to consumers in the southern part of the country.
At this juncture, there is nothing nostalgic about going down memory lane to recount how I embarked on a hunger strike against my roommates over a minor disagreement that played out within us. The stage for the memorable hunger strike was perfectly set since we were wont to, on daily basis, eat in one accord as we usually make contribution towards it. Like the apostles in the biblical days, we did ate in oneness with gladness and singleness of heart.
It would be recalled that the strike commenced with my refusal to join them during breakfast on a particular Sunday. The lunch was followed with the same seamlessness in the resoluteness I exuded during breakfast. As time for dinner beckoned, I was literarily pushed to recant my action by a compelling hunger. I resisted it. Awkwardly, I woke up around 11.00pm begging my friends to allow me dish rice from the pot and eat to which they blatantly refused saying that I did not contribute towards the cooking. I earnestly begged them that night to allow me eat, and that I will not repeat the mistake I made. Fortuitously enough, they agreed that I should eat, albeit it was late at the night.
Without any scintilla of hyperbole, it is expedient to say that the incident opened my eyes of understanding to the meaning of an African proverb that says, “One does not enter into the water and then run from the cold” and a similar proverb that says “”When the sun beats the Tortoise in the market, it equally beats the seller”. Without doubt, the foregoing proverbs are unarguably our elders’ magnum opus as far as African proverbs are concerned as the proverbs find expression in the intransigency that characterizes the mischievous decision of the leaderships of the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria (AUFCDN) and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) to block supply of food stuff to consumers in the southern part of the country.
I must confess at this juncture that what made the ugly incident remain memorable in my subconscious was the taunting question, “How far?” from one the most troublesome student in the building; a private male hostel. He kept, asking me in pidgin, “How far”, and “E be like say you don hearam”. Though in pidgin, the taunting words simply translate to, “You must have learnt a lesson from the hunger strike you embarked on”.
Without being naughty in this context, it is expedient to say that I have being inspired to ask members of AUFCDN and MACBAN who misguidedly chose to block supply of food stuff to consumers in the Southern part of the country, “How far?” The foregoing taunting question no doubt is not misplaced in any sense as members of both association were reported in some sections of the media to have lose huge amount of money for deciding not to take their products to the south where the markets unarguably were. The seeming mistake they made cost them a lot as baskets of tomatoes and onions rotted away to their own detriment. Like a war of attrition, their customers in the south were within few days the impasse lasted faced with unprecedented high prices of food stuffs.
It is germane to opine in this context that there is no auspicious time to ask the question “How far?” than now that barely one week of the traders’ resolution to stop food supply to Southern region, that the leadership of AUFCDN, ostensibly in defiance of MACBAN’s position on the issue, agreed to end the blockade of supplies to the south. The union reached the agreement at an ongoing meeting with some governors in Abuja on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 as gathered by this writer.
According to Daily Trust, Abdullahi Tom, a youth leader of the cattle dealers in Lagos, revealed that Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State was among the leaders who appealed to them to end the industrial action.
Before the latest development, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has warned against the blockade of foodstuff from the North to the Southern part of Nigeria. It would be recalled that Chief Audu Ogbe, National Chairman of ACF, had earlier warned that such step would complicate the economic and political state of Nigeria.
In a statement, Ogbe insisted that such action was unnecessary because Nigeria was not at war. According to him, “Nigeria is not at war with itself and such a drastic action is not necessary. “This will only further complicate the socio economic and political problems facing our country today.
“We believe that whatever may be the difficulties of their members in operating in other parts of the country, ACF leadership led by me is willing to help them solve these by talking to security agencies and the government.
“There is no need to mount a blockade by one section of the country against the other. Whatever may be our differences, the ACF as an ardent believer in free trade believes that goods should be allowed to move freely.
“This extreme measure is not progressive and even counterproductive. This is not the way to go.” The Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and cattle dealers had vowed to stop movements of food from the north to the south.
Against the foregoing backdrop, one is compelled to ask those who resorted to use the food blockage as a strategy against all food consumers in the South, “How far, I trust una don hearam?” The foregoing question is indispensable as the Coordinator of the Kwara State chapter of Miyetti Allah Association of Cattle Breeders, MACBAN, Aliyu Mohammed stood his ground that the blockage of cattle and foodstuffs to the South West will continue. Unfortunately, that was not to be as there are feelers that a lot of money might have being lost as a result of the unguided action. It was unguided because the leaderships of MACBAN and AUFCDN failed to realize the fact that “The Customer Is King”, and therefore he should be respected. Conclusively, permit me to ask again, “Foodstuff And Cattle Dealers, How Far?”