Rice Pyramid and Other Matters

By Eddy Odivwri

I think after that historic event of last Tuesday, anyone still doubting the determination of President Muhammadu Buhari to leave a worthy legacy behind, should either go and hug a transformer or go and contest to become a President

Really? Last Tuesday? What was the historic event?

Are you asking me? Were you not in Nigeria? You mean you didn’t see or hear of the epoch launch of the Rice pyramid in Abuja last Tuesday? Didn’t you see those high mounds of bags of rice towering over a hundred feet? Didn’t you see it?

Is it not an iconic reference to the historical groundnut pyramids of the 60’s and 70’s? Do you know what President Buhari did should actually go into the Guinness Book of Records? Or have you heard of Rice Pyramid anywhere else in the world?

It was such a historical event. Honestly, it is highly egregious a feat. In fact, there is now a great hope that Nigeria will soon start exporting rice to other countries. Do you realise the effect of that on our GDP?

Enough of this exaggerated adulation. Did you not see that the so-called pyramid was merely a carpentry construct? Did you see the wooden frame of the so-called pyramid that just had to be ladened with bags of rice? And do you know some people even insinuated that everything you saw was not actually all rice?

Stop believing and mingling with acidic critics of this administration. They will never see anything good to say about President Buhari and all his efforts. Free your mind and be liberal in thinking. Everything you saw there were truly bags of rice. All the bags were branded. Go and check. Mr President and even the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefielie, who championed the scheme with the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, will never submit to that degree of crookery and grand deceit. Didn’t you listen to the members of RIFAN (Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria)? Did you see how elated and fulfilled they sounded and appeared? All of that couldn’t have been huff-drama.

My brother, this is Nigeria, a huge theatre of official histrionics, where anything can happen.

But you know that this President Buhari has been insistent on we growing what we eat. Can you not see how deliberate he had been in supporting agriculture? Can’t you see the benefit? Where again have you ever heard of Rice Pyramid in the world? We are now the largest producer of rice in Africa, with over 50 rice processing mills as at the end of last year. It was just six such mills in 2015. The CBN had expended over one trillion Naira on this Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, which has also supported the cultivation of several other crops. You can see Buhari is serious and strategic. Do you know how many people this scheme has delivered from poverty and misery? Do you know how many people it has offered employment?

You talk as if the Rice Pyramid is the greatest thing to ever happen in Nigeria. What is the percentage of people involved in the scheme? Good as it seems, how many Nigerians can actually afford one of the bags of rice? With all the support the rice farmers got from government, how come the local rice are even more expensive than the imported rice, even many of the local rice have plenty of stones.

And pray, of what use is rice to a people who are not safe? Do you know how many rice farmers have been killed by the league of Bandits in the country? Or did you not hear Governor Sani Bello of Niger State say that in 17 days, his state has been attacked over 50 times and over 200 people have been killed with over 300 villages sacked? What kind of country is that? That is a state nearest to the Federal Capital Territory under such siege…. And you are over the moon over bags of rice.

Look, don’t forget that Mr President inherited this insecurity malaise. He has been trying everything in the books to run the terrorists out of town. We are almost there. He just ordered the army to smoke out the bad boys in Niger State. So, in a bit, the country will have good peace.

Hmmmmm, we have been hearing such promises for over six years. The more they promise, the deadlier the attacks. And in a pre-election year, we expect more of such propaganda-fed promises. The likes of Lai Mohammed will soon introduce new lexicons as he redesigns the propaganda manual for 2023.

Let me ask you, did Mr President really need to specially order the Nigerian military to hack down the terrorists in Niger State? Isn’t that the raison d’etre of the military? Ok, so he’d have to also order special military operation in Kaduna, Zamfara, Borno, Plateau States etc?

The case of Niger State simply became an emergency. That explains why the President had to take extra-ordinary measures to crush the bad guys

Do you know that on this insecurity matter, that we are in for a long night? Do you think there will be a quick fix to it? Never!

Did you remember the former Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai had said the problem will yet be with us for another twenty years?

Did you listen to the late Obadiah Mailafia who said a sitting governor in the north is the head commander of Boko Haram and the bandits? Ask yourself how these bandits get their sophisticated weapons steadily. Ask yourself whether these bandits who collect ransoms in Millions of Naira, whether they are the ones who spend the money? Don’t you see them always as wretch and like rain-soaked squirrels? Do they look like people who have or spend millions of Naira? Does that not tell you they are only proxies and pawns in this game? Where do they keep these huge cash….. in the forest and caves? How come that more than ten years after, the vicious Department of State Security (DSS) has not been able to unravel the enigmatic mystery around the sponsors of Boko Haram? Why do they all conspire to shield the identity of the sponsors? Didn’t former President Goodluck Jonathan say he knew the Boko Haram people in his cabinet and government at the time? Yet, he refused to name them? Didn’t Abubakar Malami, the sitting Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation few years back promise to release the names of the sposnors of Boko Haram and terrorism in Nigeria? Did he ever do it? The Governor of Zamafara State, Bello Matawalle, this week also claimed to have known those sponsoring the acts of terrorism, and would soon make the names known. Until he leaves office, he would not release any list. We are just in a long dark alley of hopelessness.

Don’t be too pessimistic. Buhari is working. APC is working. New leaders are taking over. So you will see a brighter and better ruling party.

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