Nigeria's Democratic Dictator Insists On His Own Menu for 2012

Nigeria's Democratic Dictator Insists On His Own Menu for 2012

A careful look at the topic and you’d see a contradiction but then it is not a contraction but the reality of Nigeria’s seeming democracy. Democratic dictator best describes Nigeria’s president Jonathan. There are a lot of reasons to describe him as such but I’d rather focus on his latest dictatorial antics. The president has just discovered cassava bread! That in itself is not bad considering people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates had to help either discover new things or make old ones better. Unlike Steve and Bill though, President Jonathan has put policies in place to help ensure Nigerians join him in the quest to feed on cassava bread for as long as he remains the president.

 
Hear the president in his budget proposal presentation,
 
“Government is also introducing policies to encourage the substitution of high quality cassava flour for wheat flour in bread-baking. Bakeries will have 18 months in which to make the transition, and will enjoy a corporate tax incentive of 12% rebate if they attain 40% blending. With effect from March 31st 2012, importation of cassava flour will be prohibited so as to further support this programme”
 
In case you do not understand the above clearly, the president goes further to break it down for complete understanding,
 
“From July 1st 2012, wheat flour will attract a levy of 65% to bring the effective duty to 100%, while wheat grain will attract a 15% levy which will bring the effective duty to 2010%...In addition, to encourage domestic rice production, a levy of 40% will be placed on imported polished rice leading to an effective duty rate of 50%. Effective 31st December, 2012, all rice millers should move towards domestic production and milling of rice, as the levy of 50% will be further raised to 100%.”
 
Reading through the above, you would think the president was reading from the indigenisation budgets of the 70s but those are actually what will play down from next year. In essence, Nigerians are in for scarcity of food and indeed everything that needs wheat flour and grain for their use. The farmers this year had a bad production year as the rains were delayed. This in essence will translate to a form of scarcity for agricultural produce. What the president is basically doing is taking away the supplements that’d have helped the fill the gap but he has in his usual doing before thinking method actually set the nation up to a year of hunger in 2012.
 
While the president’s intention was to essentially cut out the importation of wheat and wheat flour so as to encourage the production of bread using cassava flour, he has simply forgotten that wheat is not exclusive to bread alone. A ban in the importation of wheat has far more reaching implications in the production of biscuits, cookies, cakes, breakfast cereal, pasta, noodles, couscous and for fermentation to make beer, and other alcoholic beverages not to talk of biofuel as that is very much alien to a country still very much in a frenzy over the discovery of the latest food to hit the world, cassava bread.
 
In essence, for the sake of cassava bread which does not have enough production of cassava this year to meet the needed volume to produce the popular cassava grains locally called garri, a competition is set to emerge between garri and cassava bread for the grossly limited cassava flour next year. While these two compete for who would use the cassava, other production processes that depend on wheat flour and wheat grain will suffer.
 
Year after year Nigerian governments miss it. They liberalise one sector of the economy after taking decades through the wilderness of state control. The stiffening of importation on rice and cassava bread will have other effects. Smuggling will be the order of the day. All of these bans on rice and wheat will only open up illicit trading across the border. Do we really want that? Why do Nigerian leaders thnk that to grow a local industry you must before had shield them from competition. Why would a right thinking president ban produce for which the supplements have not even been produced or looked to be produced enough to meet national demand? The price of garri has been rising over the years because of the increasing short fall of cassava production. With competition for cassava between garri, cassava and indeed all the other products for which wheat have been banned but some other poorly produced flour can be used, 2012 is the year not just of scarcity of food but also of making do with cassava biscuits, cassava beer and indeed cassava brains because considering our propensity to consume these things cassava will eventually find itself growing in our heads
 
Last year, the president banned all the country’s football teams from international competitions. He rescinded the decision within days due to a threat by FIFA the international governing body of football to add to the years the president had chosen the country to be out for. Well, the country did not withdraw from international football but somehow all the country’s national teams have failed to qualify for any international football competitions holding next year. This is the first time in modern memory the national teams of Nigeria will be home eating cassava bread while their counter parts from other parts of the world will be competing. The initial ban had made a psychological dent in the mental state of the nation’s football teams. If that was a rash and puerile action by the president, watch out in 2012 when the Nigerian people enjoy the president’s ban on one of the most important raw materials in the production of staple foods.
 
After all said and done though, cronies of the president having enjoyed secret waivers this year may just enjoy same again to make wheat flour and wheat when available the most expensive in the world. That was how Nigeria’s cement achieved same status. Not to worry, enjoy your meals while you can because a time comes when all you will have are empty stalls and dry pots.
 
Policy solution:
 
Don’t ban the importation of wheat. If cassava bread is really the messiah of bread, look to encourage its availability in the markets and allow the people decide based on choice what bread they prefer. You stop one thinking another will take its place. Competition is what grows people, it is what grows industries and indeed nations. What you don’t do is reduce people to just one choice: to eat or not to eat cassava bread. Time will tell but you need no prophet to tell you it won't alter the consequences for our sake.

Comments

Lets Act Now (while there's yet the chance to)

 

I woke this morning with tears, like a woman who has just lost her husband or only child; Neither happened to me.
What might happen however is much worse - everyday I do 'nothing', go about my business as though as is well, a powerful cabal rapes my nation & steals the future of my dreams.
I pretend all is well & maybe if I turn my face aside from their madness, then it'll all go away or at least I won't feel it
But I lie to myself & delude my conscience with talks of 'its well & e go better', I & millions of other young Nigerians who are seemingly oblivious to the state of our country.
But are we really unaware or just deliberately stupid & foolish? We go to our clubs, dance the night away to meaningless songs, buy ugly brazilian hair for N50k & painful designer shoes for much more, while our guys also feverishly dole out their cash (hard earned, stolen, yahoozed or inherited) for china-made designer wears & parade themselves half naked (sagging like prisoners) with tons of ugly metal across their necks (blings?)
All the while, the few wealthy cabals of Nigeria grow the more hungry, stealing the nation blind to satisfy their blood-sucking thirsts, while our 'seemingly clueless & spineless' democratic dictator of a president enacts laws & policies to protect his friends
As I lie on my bed this morning, pillow soaked with tears - I ask, What is it that I must do to wake up from this horrible nightmare?
Why does our government believe that the poor masses are the befitting scapegoats for their wasteful, wanton & visionless spending of national wealth?
But more importantly, why is no one doing 'nothing' to stop this madness?
Where are the youths of Nigeria, what are we doing, collectively as a group? What am I going to do as an individual?
If only my tears will provide a solution, I'd gladly shed a drum full for my beloved country
But alas, wishes are not horses
And tears will not move GEJ
God only honors His Word & He only moves when our faith reaches out to Him
If I had a loud voice like Toyosi Akerele, I'd stand on Oshodi bridge & call out to the thousands of Lagosians to wake up from their slumbers and act
If I had the gift of writing like Omojuwa, I'd write letters out to every young Nigerian on Twitter & Facebook to quit jonzing & do something now!

But I am Teniola Adejuwon, and am sending out a call to every Nigerian youth... Please do something, anything you know how to & rescue Nigeria from those who are bent on destroying her.
The call has been made, the baton has been passed - the ball is in our court, please do something!

Dictator Insists on His own Menu

Nigeria is a county where more than half of the population are seriously hungry. The struggle for survival is so intense on a daily basis that all kinds of things are done by a common man to put food on his table. Now our dear President Goodluck Jonathan, did not even bother to think that there should be a way of bringing food to the mercies, so that survival will not be such an Herculean task, but he is very quick to issue polices that will make their lives more difficult. We all know that this is not going to do any other thing but make life more miserable for Nigerians, and enrich some select few, who will have enough money to import these banned products and sell that at exorbitant rates. Am sure it is still very fresh in our memories how the price of rice went up when Obasanjo banned the importation of rice some years ago, and since then, it has not come down. Because what we produce is not enough to feed us

Seriously, I am tried of how myopic our leaders are. This is not rocket science...make alternative measures before you issue your policies. Just try to put the common man first before you think of businesses and returns to friends and family. 

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