No region in Nigeria is a self-sufficient archipelago. None is more fortunate in human and material assets than the other.
Each region has its unique quality and contributes a consequential substance to Nigeria.
We are like geopolitical sextuplets sharing one umbilical cord – nourished and oxygenated by mother Nigeria.
It is delusive to assume any of the regions solely underpins the Nigerian infrastructure. The North feeds the nation, and the South contributes in commerce and revenue generation. We are one concentric circle, holding each other at delicate arcs. Nigeria as a unified entity can stand as an island because its component parts are already flourishing archipelagos.
We should not take this ‘symbiosis’ for granted. Our interdependence makes us a viable concern. It is asinine to keep latching on the trope that the ‘North produces nothing’. This bromide is a fallacy. The North is Nigeria’s food hamper. The insecurity in the region which has affected farming, and the concomitant increase in food prices should make us reflect on the pivotal place of the North – beyond politics.
But I am afraid to say that a menacing spectacle is being enacted by those who do not take the shared interest of Nigeria with gravitas. The prices of foodstuff are said to be soaring to the heavens in some states in the South.
The reason for this contrived price hike? The food blockade of the South by some groups in the North. A group, the Amalgamated Union of Food and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria (AUFCDN) is demanding billions from the government as compensation for its loss in the Shasa market crisis in Oyo and the #EndSARS violence.
Also, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association has threatened to sustain the food besiegement until the safety of its members in the South is guaranteed. According to Aliyu Mohammed, coordinator of the Kwara State chapter of Miyetti Allah, the beleaguerment is a ‘warning shot’ to safeguard their business interest.
In addition, media reports at the weekend said the North is diverting food items to Niger Republic and Cameroon, and that trade routes to the South have been besieged.
What does this portend for Nigeria? Citizens diverting food items needed by fellow citizens to foreign countries? Are foreigners from Niger Republic and Cameroon now substitutes to Nigerians? It is really troubling.
What if some groups, who have threatened to obstruct oil supply to the North, put action to their threat? Where does that leave all of us? We should not cut off our nose to spite our face. Nobody wins in this friction of attrition.
To break the ice, I think the governments (federal and state) need to step up to soothe frayed nerves. Investments and lives were lost in the crisis effectuated by the activities of some criminal herders in the South. Northern traders have also been victims of targeted attacks – losing much of their investments. It will be apropos for the government to attenuate the impact of these losses – on both sides – particularly in the case of the Shasa market clash. The government must deliberately intervene before the situation snowballs into an inter-regional tit-for-tat.
The civil authorities must go beyond platitudes and commit themselves to keeping the peace by ensuring victims of violence (farmer-herder crisis and sundry clashes) are compensated and criminals punished. Why there are often reprisal attacks is because justice is not done to the victims. A cycle of violence continues when justice is undone.