By Tahir Ibrahim Tahir Talban Bauchi.
As intelligent, hardworking and technologically advanced as we brag about being, it is ironic that at the end of the day, we fail to show up for patriotism and country — and choose to dwell on the divides that do not crystallise into the positive building blocks of our national development. Instead, we tow the lines that harp on our differences and rhetorics based on political party apathy.
We often embrace the gulfs of ethno-religious segmentations of our society and deliberately fail to show up for our country. We are absent when it comes to celebrating the country’s achievements and progress. We instead converge to mock her, even when she has birthed something fruitful and prosperous. However, anytime we find ourselves stuck or in need of a dear country, our voices are gravelly with echoes of her name and her might.
When D’Tigers made waves whacking USA’s Dream Team, it was called Igbo or IPOB teams. When it wobbled, it was Nigerian again. When the Super Eagles didn’t score, the striker is labelled gateman because he is of a particular demographic. Still, when he does, the Super Eagles are flying again and are the only team in AFCON 2021 to make the group stages on a stainless slate.
The CBN and RIFAN (Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria) unveiled the pyramids in Abuja as seeds of the long and aggressive Anchor Borrowers Programme. Many rose to blindly and sheepishly discredit the programme. An old image from a certain state, which showed the assembling of rafters, as if constructing a roof, with rice bags placed as tiles, to simulate a huge pyramid, was shared to disillusion gullible ones, that the CBN/ RIFAN event was dubious and unreal. Some said the bags were filled with sand, while some dissected the event as a waste of resources and energy. Some didn’t want to credit the administration due to party affiliations, and others didn’t want to have any of it because of their own biases. Most couldn’t put Nigeria first and all other differences aside and be happy that the motherland has achieved this milestone, despite the overwhelming and depressing global environment for business and governance.
In our importation bills, it is more than evident that the importation for food, especially rice, has stepped down many notches. This is because government intervention in rice importation has also dropped astronomically. One million bags which is just a percentage of what RIFAN has produced, were unveiled at the event, being an aggregation of the 2020 dry season and the 2021 wet season. They are the commitment from farmers in the repayment of their loans from the Anchor-borrowers programme.
No fewer than 230 small, medium and large scale rice mills have emerged all over the country from 2015 to 2021. A Kano-based lady has a 160 ton per day capacity rice mill, while another, one of the biggest, has a 32 metric tonnes per hour capacity built-in Lagos. From averaging less than 3 million metric tonnes per year, in 2015, an outstanding 7 to 9 million metric tonnes per annum was achieved in 2021. The rice revolution is unbelievable but far away from being a hoax.
Ado Hassan, the Secretary of the Kano chapter of RIFAN, had said that their move was towards engendering the twin benefits of food security and economic diversification. Agriculture contributed over 21% of our GDP. This is incontrovertible evidence that a lot has actually been achieved in this sector. Nigeria has become the largest rice grower in Africa, and neighbouring countries are coming in to educate themselves on how Nigeria is dominating Africa, as the giant of any continent should rightly do.
Nigeria is gradually achieving food security, which we should be proud of and glad to attain. Unfortunately, the vociferousness of global inflation is biting the most developed countries too, and not just developing nations like dear country. A Briton was lamenting that the cost of parking, which was just £.10 a few months ago, had risen to £.50! Perhaps if Nigeria were not hindered by insecurity and a pandemic for the last three years, we could have been celebrating a lot of such pyramids across the country.
The Nigerian military does a show of force, so does the NAF with jets in formations over our skies. Lecturers have conferences, and the NBA has annual conferences as well. Every sector of our economy has players coming together under one roof to showcase their achievements and discuss prospects. So why can’t our dear farmers, under the auspices of RIFAN, do their own show of rice? Isn’t it an important part of accountability?
We pray that their efforts will directly affect the market price of rice in the coming weeks, as the mills get busy husking the rice that was showcased. We also pray that unscrupulous marketers will not deny the everyday person the fruit of this labour. Those ones are a whole chapter of those unpatriotic ones we so have to live with.
Tahir is Talban Bauchi.