A factory to produce cattle feed was launched over the weekend at Abuja. It is reportedly bankrolled by Alhajis Atiku and Dangote, two Nigerians who have very deep pockets.
Atiku went from a top post at the Nigeria Customs before venturing into politics where he made heavy investments after the last military regime; he was vice president of the country under retired General Obasanjo (rGO) who became president in 1979.
Dangote was also one of the earliest investors in politics in the 3rd Republic after the military exit when he bet – pardon me, put – [then] an astounding N50 million naira into the campaign of rGO for whom a red carpet had already been laid to the presidency via the military.
What is baffling about the new factory is a report in pointblanknews.com, link at the end of this short essay.
While it is apparent that the two moneybags are using their own funds and those of Atiku’s “Portuguese partners”, two portions in the online news report point to an involvement – even if through a supposed presidential directive:
In furtherance of President Mohammadu Buhari’s secret directive to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Business Mogul, Aliko Dangote, to float cattle feed factories across Nigeria in anticipation of the passage of the executive version of the Grazing Reserve Bill prepared by the Minister of Agriculture …
This plant is unique because besides producing poultry feeds of high quality, it will also lay emphasis on the production of small and large ruminant feeds. Here is a way of reducing the grazier-farmer conflict” …
While the online report has not shown any government funds being expended on this clearly private initiative by two stupendously wealthy Nigerians, a president’s purported “secretive” directive to Atiku and Dangote to embark on a “cattle feed factory chain across Nigeria in anticipation of the passage of the executive version of the Grazing Reserve Bill” soon after being sworn in in 2015 is troubling. [Emphasis blogger’s.]
Right now, Southwestern Nigeria is groaning under the yoke of sky-high market prices for essentials, especially those grown in the Northern part of Nigeria like tomatoes, tatase, a pepper hybrid from Northern Nigeria that I first encountered when I was 29 years old!
While prices for various items like the almighty tatase that Yoruba women have grown addicted to have risen by more than 100%, the price of tomatoes has risen by over 400 percent. Words in the street down in the SW is that Alhaji Dangote – who can today decide on starving more than half the country’s population as he controls the importation and/or manufacture of food products like rice, sugar, salt … and spaghetti (kini eyi doro doro as a dear old Auntie calls the pasta) has commandeered ALL the tomato farms in the North for his tomato paste factory.
Truth or rumor, I really do not know but prices in the markets are real,and what in the world has driven such rises?
The Alhaji is a God-fearing man like most people in Nigeria, an amiable man whose only interest is making money. A Yoruba female university graduate recently remarked: k’a ṣa dupẹ pe o [Dangote] ti fẹ ma ṣe tomato alagolo. I asked her why we must be happy that Dangote will soon roll out tomato paste?
THAT is how accepting of any situation they find themselves in Yorubas are, not how can I personally solve this problem from my own little corner?
Who, therefore in Dangote’s position, knowing an insatiable market exists for a product he can rustle up a world-standard factory at the drop of a pin, would not throw money at his own people to sell en masse to him rather than let them sell to Yorubas or other Southerners?
Remember, “his” people – by origin and faith, lines along which Nigerians have now been solidly divided – would still continue to make tons of money as southerners,especially the Yorubas, have become addicted to cooking a medium-sized fish for two with 2- (world standard) cups of that tatase, 3 cups of fresh tomatoes, 2 medium-sized onions and all the spices that Chinese factories can come up with via Chemical Engineering.
Seven weeks ago at the beginning of April, a tiny basket (do not give the word its literal translation) of tomatoes – think 3-standard cup measures – went for N700 – N800 (at that time, you needed N300 to buy a USD. Three weeks ago, Yoruba women were in panic mode as those “baskets” skyrocketed to N3,000 – yeah, US$10.00; then up to N5,000.00 a week later.
Now, things have quieted down as prices “have come down” to where they are “manageable” so that those nothing succeeds like excess parties the Yorubas love so much can continue to be serviced.
I visited a phone company office today, Mondy, May 23 and what was on the lips of those young kids was the prices of “ingredients” – tomatoes … One young lady – anybody working in a phone office is young – announced in non-dramatic way how she first had “beans with the stew separate” served to her when she arrived in Ibadan … same with ẹ̀fọ́ rirò …”
I told them they all could do something about it: grow their own in little containers or boxes OR do without. In my part of Yorubaland, you saw separate stew rarely; your mom cooked the modern designer ila alasèpọ̀ – okro soup with everything – peppers, et cetera cooked together; ditto ẹ̀fọ́ rirò. Up till today, I have NEVER eaten ẹ̀fọ́ rirò with stew added!
Arokian, a term for Nigeria’s upcountry bumpkins that I just picked up ; America’s hillbillies … suits me to a T which happens to stand for ‘Tola’.
Now, what will happen to the term Ẹ din da’a da’a k’ẹ yi l’ata when the peppers to bathe fried-to-the-limit meats, fish, bọ̀kọ̀tọ, a.k.a ẹsẹ Baba Kano are off limits except to the well-heeled, especially oil subsidy scammers, members of Nigeria, Inc., 419-ers …? Believe me, even the poor that I see every time I go to the market as early as 6.30 a.m. to buy vegetables at Ibadan, buy and eat rice mixed with spaghetti (what?) AND densely-fried stew with fried meat or fish that have been yi l’ata!
What will happen to MY people with exotic tastes and love of sybaritic pleasures?
They will have to adjust or go the way of the dinosaur.
On a serious note this has to end: the Yorubas and any other group that allows themselves to be used to mop a floor that enriched others walk in this hybrid of a not-a-nation-though-one-really-believed-we-were-finally-on-our-way to-one, can go ahead but PLEASE, do not blame others for your folly and what, if truth be told – your laziness!
AN ESSAY FROM THE PAST THAT I KEEP GOING BACK TO:
Yoruba must grow their food or starve
TOLA ADENLE/The Nation on Sunday, March 28, 2010.
This title is a variant on a saying ascribed to Gandhi that India should manufacture her own cloths and make her own clothes or else go naked. He practised what he preached and the rest is history.
Readers should pardon the title but Yoruba were the crying babies when Northern Nigerian farmers unleashed a simple law of supply and demand on the South: they claimed taxes, charges, police collection, et cetera as excuses for the blockade of supplies of tomatoes and all peppers. And with those nothing-succeeds-like-excess parties starved of weekly tons of peppers for cooking zillions of food vats most of which often go to waste, Yoruba women were in panic mode, ready to crawl from Lagos to the over-supplied-with-fertilizer North.
Before you could spell t-a-t-a-s-e (tatase), a pepper variety I did not come across till I was almost thirty, prices had gone through the roof. I have asked my spouse who grew up in circumstances where huge cooking was a daily affair in the same southwest if he saw this strange pepper in his childhood. Ditto friends who grew up in fancier places than my rural background where the idea of a good pot of soup to accompany iyan was a lot of vegetables plus atarodo or sombo – both hot peppers – with or without egusi. Never! The okro soup we had only on Sunday mornings with amala had the peppers and everything cooked together – today’s “designer”alasepo! In those dark ages, beans, onions, et cetera were grown by farmers, housewives (behind homes) as well as on school farms.
Please do not tell me it is impossible in big cities for many families to grow a sizeable portion of their produce. During the Kosovo War, I was always amazed at images of window ledges holding containers for vegetables, tomatoes, lettuce, et cetera. Or how about this: Iceland, with barely any summer, has been known to grow 80% of her potato needs, 800 tons of tomato which was two-thirds of annual consumption, and 700 tons of cucumber, 70% of domestic demand for her less than 500,000 people in one particular year.
Our dire situation brings to mind a story by the always practical Professor Sam Aluko. As he drove towards Ife University with an Israeli colleague years ago, Prof. was intermittently asked if the zillions of palms along the highway were on plantations. Something like “God put them there” was his constant reply. The colleague’s comments about a people so abundantly blessed but with so little to show remains well-deserved.
The Tatase Blockade has not affected me. What! Being forever a country ‘girl’ who abhors atarodo the size of lemons and tatase the size of grapefruits – thanks to endless fertilizer supply for Northern farmers by Agric Ministers who are ALWAYS Northerners – I buy the tiny local variety during season, freeze some and dry some. I checked these items at Ibadan and Osogbo before writing this. While prices are much less than during The Blockade, they remain in excess of pre–Blockade time. By the way, the last time I bought peppers was in October. Impossible! I know that NEPA is a kill-joy but if you buy much and dry them, you would require very little fresh for taste. Try vegetable plus egusi with dried atarodo, onion and fish without even Maggi/iru; you’ll be amazed at the taste!
As sybaritic Yoruba women ran from pillar to post during The Blockade, it occurred to me that raising prices was the real reason. The Yoruba have sayings for just about every happening but they apparently do not learn from them. When hungry, one asks you to act arrogant and refuse to eat food not freely offered! How about this blast from Nigeria’s political past: next time, “boycott the boycottables”!
Now, if only southwest governors would spend part of their security votes AND local government chairmen would spend part of their allocations on farming, we can encourage school farming, including in cities where containers can be used, and intensify the old Farm Settlements that are being re-started.
I know these work because I’ve planted peppers, including tatase in little containers and use the yield as green peppers in fried rice and Chinese chow mein. I once planted Chinese broccoli (bok choy) and it thrived [at Ibadan].
Reproduced on this blog over 4 years ago as: https://emotanafricana.com/2012/02/07/if-yoruba-cannot-grow-their-food-yoruba-must-starve-oil-subsidy-removal/
ATIKU/DANGOTE story: http://pointblanknews.com/pbn/exclusive/grazing-bill-atikus-cattle-feed-factory-programme-launched-abuja/
MONDAY, MAY 23, 2016. 8:57 p.m. [GMT]