Who Is Begging Northerners To Bring Food To The South? (OPINION)

By Isaac Asabor

As gathered from Statista, an online statistical platform where relevant facts on Nigeria relating to market data, statistics and market studies can be found, “Nigeria has an arable land area of 34 million hectares: 6.5 million hectares for permanent crops, and 30.3 million hectares on meadows and pastures. Agriculture accounts for over 20 percent of Nigeria’s GDP. The country is a leader in various types of agricultural production, such as palm oil, cocoa beans, pineapple, and sorghum. It is the largest producer of sorghum in the world just after the United States, and ranks fifth in the production of palm oil and cocoa beans. Nigeria is also a large global nuts exporter. In terms of value, it is the second leading exporter of cashew nuts worldwide. Indeed, oil, fruits, nuts, seeds are among the ten best performing export categories.

Agriculture is a key activity for Nigeria’s economy after oil. Agricultural activities provide livelihood for many Nigerians, whereas the wealth generated by oil reaches a restricted share of the population. According to a recent survey, some 70 percent of households in Nigeria participate in crop farming activities, while about 41 percent own or raise livestock. In rural areas more people participate in agricultural activities than in urban areas. Fishing is a less popular activity than crop farming. With a coastline of 850 kilometers, and many lakes, creeks, and rivers, fishing is practiced by about three percent of households. In the South-South states, fishing is much more common than in others”.

Among households across the regional divides of Northern and Southern Nigeria, maize and cassava form the sources of staple foods that are daily consumed.

While diverse staple foods eaten across Nigeria vary from region to region, most Nigerian cuisine tends to be based around a few staple foods accompanied by either soup or stew. In the south, crops such as corn, yams, and sweet potatoes form the base of the diet. These vegetables are often pounded into a thick, sticky dough or paste. This is often served with a palm oil-based stew made with chicken, beef, goat, tomatoes, okra, onions, bitter leaves, or whatever meats and vegetables might be on hand. Fruits such as papaya, pineapples, coconuts, oranges, mangoes, and bananas also are very common in the tropical south.

In the north, grains such as millet, sorghum, and corn are boiled into a porridge-like dish that forms the basis of the diet. This is served with an oil-based soup usually flavored with onions, okra, and tomatoes. Sometimes meat is included, though among the Hausa it is often reserved for special occasions.  To the Fulani cattle herders, fresh milk and yogurt are common even though there may not be refrigeration. But to the Southerners, high-tech processed milk or yoghurts are highly consumed, and these can be purchased from the shops.

For the sake of clarification on what inspired this piece before this writer is labelled a tribal or ethnic jingoist, it is expedient to say that the provocative statement issued by the leadership of the Miyetti Allah formed the crux of the matter, and elicited this view.

It is no doubt pragmatic in this context to recall that the Miyetti Allah has said that the blockade of cattle and foodstuffs to the South West through Kwara State will continue until the safety of Fulani is guaranteed in the region.

In as much as the leadership of Miyetti Allah has enough milk of human kindness to protect its kith and kin from being “killed” as it has always alleged, it should restrain itself from allowing such statement to constitute a threat to the entire Southerners who are not ignorant of the dynamics of farming. If I may ask, are farmers in the Northern part of the country the sole cultivators of  crops that form recipes that are needed in preparation of  meals that cut across “Eba”, “Fufu”, “Amala” with Okra soup or Egusi Soup in the Southern part of the country? Do they think they solely have the recipe mix that are needed in the preparations of rice, pounded yam, beans, plantain among others are solely from the North? Do they have what it takes to prepare all the meals eaten in the Southern axis of the country? As regard cattle, it is germane to sound personal in this piece, and inform Miyetti Allah that most people, including this writer, do not eat cow meat; not because of the prevailing seeming ruckus but to stay healthy.

The disclosure that the blockade of cattle and foodstuffs to the South West through Kwara was made by the coordinator of the Kwara State chapter of Miyetti Allah Association of Cattle Breeders, Aliyu Mohammed.

While having a parley with newsmen, after a crucial meeting of the association in Ilorin on Sunday, February 28, Mohammed said the action is a warning shot to ensure a peaceful operation of businesses by the Fulani and to end the harassment of the tribe in the south. Hope you heard him in the foregoing phrasal threat, “Warning Shot”?

He was also reported to have said that not all Fulani are criminals, even as he added that “Just as you have in any society where there are good and bad people.” To my view, the foregoing defensive statement is tantamount to the trending phrase called ‘Lori Iro’. For the sake of clarification, ‘Lori Iro’ is a Yoruba phrase that literarily translates to mean “On top of lies”.

Mohammed insisted that “It is not only Fulanis that commit crimes in the country, but it was sad that everything happening now is heaped on Fulani herdsmen.”

To my view, it seems Mohammed expected Nigerians of Southern extraction to start begging him or Miyetti Allah immediately the threatening statement was issued.  However, no one is begging as his strategy which can be said to be a “Culinary Arsenal” was “Dead-On-Arrival”.

You may have asked, “What made this writer thinks no one is begging Northerners to bring food to the Southern part of the country?”

Without any scintilla of hyperbole, the foregoing question cannot be farfetched as casual observations reveal that the reaction by the leader of INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, Primate Elijah Ayodele to the threat by northerners to stop supplying food to the South over Yoruba-Fulani crisis in some states in the Southwest is not in any way different from prevailing public opinion since the threat was issued.

The prophet in his reaction explained that he supports the decision of the North not to supply food again, adding that it would awaken the South West governors on what they need to do, and explained that some states in the southwest can produce all the foods that the North is supplying, and if the governors cannot do it successfully, then they should resign.

As reported in DAILY POST on Monday, March 1, 2021, the cleric said, “I’m in support of the North’s decision not to bring food to the south any longer because the governors in South West can produce food.”

“Let Ekiti supply yam and ram, Ogun should rear cow and supply us rice, garri, lafu,, fufu and beans, Ondo State can supply beans, yam and rice.

“Lagos will be producing fish, tomatoes will come from Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo can give us garri, why are we shouting? If the governors of southwest cannot put all these together, they should resign.

“It will be a shame to the southwest governors if they allow the northerners to bring food and go back to farming, within a short period of time, we will bounce back.

“You don’t need to beg them to bring food, let us leave them, though this will lead to recession, and hijackers will start attacking the rich, 2023, unexpected will consume our expectation.

“The price of commodities is high now, let us suffer, the North should keep their food that is only when the southern governors will know what to do.”

To this end, it is enough to conclusively assert in this piece that the Southerners are not begging the Northerners to bring food to them; after all they have not been donating the foods to them for free. They were being paid for. As long as they can on their own de-market their food products, the Southerners can bear the pain which would be short-lived, and as long as such pain will literarily flush out herdsmen from the stretches of forests in the South, it would remain a blessing in disguise.   If they can find enough market in the North to sell their products or enough stomachs to consume the foods been produced in the North they can go ahead and carry out their threat. No Southerner is begging them. Period!


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