By Prince Charles Dickson PhD
It is a trap that the giant rat disdains that wrenches its testicles backwards.
At the beginning of the year, I had promised that for 12 months, Insha Allah, I will once a month X-ray the issues around the forthcoming general elections in the world’s largest black population and sufacracy. Kindly note my use of the phrase Insha Allah. This is number four, and eight more to go.
And I start like this—the war in Ukraine, along with sanctions imposed by the United States and Western countries against Russia, have caused global food, fertilizer, and fuel prices to ‘skyrocket’ and endanger the world food supply. This conflict is exacerbating the existing crisis of global hunger and imperils the living standards and well-being of billions of people – particularly in the Global South.
Russia and Ukraine together produce nearly 30 per cent of the world’s wheat and roughly 12 per cent of its total calories.
Over the past five years, they have accounted for 17 per cent of the world’s corn, 32 per cent of barley (a critical source of animal feed), and 75 per cent of sunflower oil (an important cooking oil in many countries).
On top of this, Russia is the world’s largest supplier of fertilisers and natural gas (a key component in fertiliser production), accounting for 15 per cent of the global trade of nitrogenous fertilisers, 17 per cent of potash fertilisers and 20 per cent of natural gas.
The current crisis threatens to cause a global food shortage. The United Nations has estimated that up to 30 per cent of Ukrainian farmland could become a warzone; in addition, due to sanctions, Russia has been severely restricted in exporting food, fertilizer, and fuel. This has caused global prices to surge. Since the war began, wheat prices have increased by 21 per cent, barley by 33 per cent, and some fertilisers by 40 per cent.
The painful impact of this shock is being felt by people around the world, but most sharply in the Global South. ‘In a word, developing countries are getting pummelled,’ United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres recently remarked.
According to the UN, 45 African and ‘least developed’ countries import at least a third of their wheat from these two Russia or Ukraine – 18 of those countries import at least 50 per cent. Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, obtains over 70 per cent of its imports from Russia and Ukraine, while Turkey obtains over 80 per cent.
Countries of the Global South are already facing severe price shocks and shortages, impacting both consumption and production.
In Nigeria, bread prices have risen by 40 per cent in some areas. Meanwhile, Brazil, the world’s largest producer of soybeans, is facing a major reduction in crop yields. The country purchases close to half of its potash fertiliser from Russia and neighbouring Belarus (which is also being sanctioned) – it has only a three-month supply remaining with farmers being instructed to ration.
Dangers that one belittles are liable to cause great havoc…Nigeria is literally producing nothing than selling crude oil and is dependent on every other thing else!
Nigeria, be it himself, herself or itself, is a nation that thrives on breaking the rules, one of the major reasons for why we are at this point. We refuse to follow the set rules, we kill what seemed ordinarily our once moderately easy to follow rules, ethos and norms. With each new administration, the signs were there but we refused to see them. Again, the signs are there, that the world may not remain the same…but our would-be leaders come 2023 don’t seem to understand the dynamics I outlined above beyond buying nomination forms.
From top to bottom, it was all messed up, and those vying for elective positions in the general elections do not know the amount of work to be done if we are to even aspire to the top from the bottom.
Do they have a template in today’s world of Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa (BRICS), where Nigeria does not feature beyond collecting all manners of loans and being indebted to all?
From atop when the Naira outweighed the Dollar, the Nigerian postage stamp carried muscle against the British pounds, the Naira donated to the Rand, and the Brazilian cruzeiro then was a debt currency, everything Chinese was inferior and India was known for its many gods, Bollywood and cricket.
Now, we are miles apart, being deported and left to rot in jails in these places. From the point where just, a Naira gave you plenty of dollars to now a hundred dollars gives you plenty thousands, in fact, nearing N1,000, real bottom!
From a history when most nations were visa-free, to a gradual decline where (1) we beg, pray, fast and then if successful we add a thanksgiving for a visa to Botswana. (2) To a situation where one of the government’s key phrases is foreign direct investment. A nation that cannot invest in itself yet believes that by treating its calabash recklessly, we would get better treatment from others. We watch the gradual disconnect between governance and good governance, a people and her leaders; that rather than provide leadership, ‘rule’ and ruin them to rock bottom.
Once upon a time, a giant of Africa and big brother, now begging to partner everyone for any project from electricity from Ghana to fuel from Niger, or beans from Burkina Faso or what is it we wanted from Rwanda again. Really our testicles have been wrenched backwards.
We killed everything that had an N–Nigerian Airways, Nigerian Railway, NITEL, Niger Dock, Nigerian Hospitals, Schools, Nigeria Police, a step at a time we sowed hate, theft, political violence and corruption, watered it and we are acting amused like we never saw it coming.
So, mobile telephone is South African, best hospitals are Indian, Egyptian, or German but not Nigerian. We invite Mosaad, FBI, Scotland and anyland Yard to solve our never-ending criminal puzzles. Just for those that don’t know, or are feigning ignorance. They are schools in Nigeria where the tuition fees are dollar-denominated, shops that only sell in dollars.
Just listen to the old block, Maitama Sule, Emeka Anyaokwu, and though they share the blame when they talk; you hear of a glorious past and advice on how to get to a desirable future.
Sadly, now the dollar talks, Naira shivers, public officials loot in the dollar, and we citizens spend Naira to cowardly defend them because of faith, creed, religion and ethnic cleavages. He/she is not a thief if he/she comes from my own side of the wood or prays to my own ‘god’.
Private miseducation has long replaced patriotic public education. Nursery rhymes have long replaced the national anthem. Public officials are applauded; people dance and come down with rheumatism for the building of a culvert or borehole. Nigerians have not become Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Sudanstan but going to Kaduna from Abuja has become Golgotha. It has all changed and how fast it all changed, from Jos, a once peaceful haven to a conflagration of all sorts of bloody and violent clashes. It’s worse in Kaduna, terrible in Katsina and Borno, Zamfara and Sokoto, Kebbi and in the South West criminality and robbery prevail, while gunmen and unknown gunmen hold the East hostage.
That we are now being forced to tell our kids the good old story is painful, not painful because it is the good old story, but because they may never see a good Nigeria if we don’t get 2023 right.
All these masquerade dancing egedege do they know we are rock bottom; do they know what’s happening in the global community and how it affects us, are they ready to move from bottom to a middle ground if not top, do they know beyond which zone or region gets the presidency, the crown does not cure the headache—only time will.