Southwest food blockade: Matters arising

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These are interesting times in Nigeria. Events are happening at a frenetic pace portending doom. Regrettably however, the authorities concerned are stung by inaction as the macabre occurrences play out perhaps it is all a script they are not unaware of unfolding. War historians will uncover that the signs are ominous for Nigeria, the cascading chains of events point to the gathering storm and unless drastic measures are put up to halt the slide to anarchy, ultimately that will be the consequence. From herdsmen’s wanton killings, destructions of farm crops and forceful takeovers of indigenous people’s ancestral lands, to forceful evictions of “invaders,” to ethnic crises as witnessed in Shasha market in Ibadan Nigeria is tottering towards the edge of the cliff. The latest is the economic blockade of the Southern part of the country by elements in the North as “punishment” for the government’s failure to offer compensations to Northern traders and people who they believed were at the receiving end of various crises in the South in recent times particularly during the EndSARS protest in October last year and the Shasha market, Ibadan disruptive mayhem. The food blockade of the South has infamously come to effect and the effect is being felt bitingly and insidiously down South already though for how long. The blockade constitutes another action and definitely a reaction will come in its wake as is the order of things in nature.
The food blockade of the South was sequel to an ultimatum issued the Federal Government by the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) demanding a compensation of N475 billion (now N4.7 billion) for the losses allegedly incurred by their people in the South during the mayhems declaring that failure of the government would elicit strike from the body. To drum home this unwholesome demand, the Northern Consensus Movement (NCM) backed by the Amalgamated Union, the Cattle Dealers Association and other associations based in the North, has spurred the battle by springing this blockade. The national president, NCM, Awwal Abdullahi Aliu, said in an interview at the weekend, “The strike has started. There is no movement of goods and any consumables from the North to the South. It has been blocked. I will send you some videos to see the areas that have been blocked and the progress we are making.
“The roads have been blocked by our members, all the entry borders between North and South, and between the North and East. All the border towns between North and South, North and East, North and West where the vehicles pass have been blocked.
“Every angle, from North West, North East, North Central, all the borders have been blocked; even between Borno and Yobe, to Taraba, Nasarawa, to Abuja, and Abuja to Lokoja. And then Sokoto to Katsina, to Kebbi, to Zamfara, Kano, Kaduna to Niger.”
He added, “…we do not intend to withdraw until something tangible is achieved. So, the strike continues.” Aliu also had the effrontery to state that they had reached out to wide number of people including the President of the country and even the US and United Nations while also revealing that measures have been taken to divert the sales of the foodstuffs from the North including cattle to neighbouring Niger Republic, Cameroon and other countries in the region.
All this is instructive. Allegation of a sinister agenda by the Fulani elite in the country actively supported by the President Muhammadu-led administration is rife. All that is happening in quick succession only accentuates the belief down South. Banditry, herdsmen terrorism, Boko Haram insurgency, barefaced rationalization of bearing of assault arms by herdsmen, open romance with bandits, with the Federal Government pretending as if all is well without taking strong steps to redress the situation all reinforce the belief. To proceed with economic blockade against parts of the country because of traders’ clash when an Hausa man was even the aggressor or agent provocateur, and resorting to blackmail of government speak of a hidden agenda truly. The only time Nigeria witnessed something of economic blockade was during the Civil War of 1967 to 1970 when Biafra land was cut off from food supply by Nigerian government as a weapon of war which resulted in widespread starvation and hunger in the region provoking deaths of millions.
It thus calls for sober reflection the resort by some Northern youths to economic blockade on the grounds of a situation of mutual destruction, the type of which their people perpetrated wildly and widely in their region in the past without feathers being ruffled, Akaluka and other incidents as these come readily to mind here. That is a war mode action. Perhaps desperation provoked by unexpected resistance in the South against manifestations of the agenda is forcing the hand of the North to unwittingly unveil its evil plot. But then this thinking might as well be preposterous on our part! Nonetheless, this matter is an eye opener for the South to “go back to the land,” after all these food produce “imported” from the North can be produced in the region including cattle. Ranching not for the Northern herders but for the Southern ranchers should be the way to go in the present circumstances so that when the bubble bursts (God forbids), our enemy will not partly be hunger. Irrigation farming should as well be developed. This is a clarion call to the governments of the Southern states and people. It is always good to prepare for the rainy day.
The Federal Government meanwhile needs to stir from its inaction and ineptitude, display patriotism, and from unending indulgence of the criminals or else it will be difficult to divorce it of complicity. And this will save the country of another Central African Republic (CAR) episode.

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