By Alex Enemanna
It was the American psychologist, Abraham Maslow who in his 5-step classification system in hierarchy of human needs that placed food and water on the bottom base in what he called physiological needs. In other word, one is expected to attain a reasonable level of internal satisfaction before aspiring for the next level. The goal is to attain the fifth level or stage, which is ‘self-actualisation’. In between physiological need and self-actualisation are safety, belongingness & love and esteem needs.
Who cancelled afternoon food in Nigeria? is a catchphrase you may have come across recently on the social media. What it clearly speaks to is that we have army of citizens who are not only stuck on the very foundation in the ladder of basic needs but fragilely so, with their legs visibly shaking, gradually slipping off the cliff. At the risk of sounding pessimistic, the turn of events in our dear country has fast deteriorated, transitting from bad to worse with a rabid morbidity, yet the signs all over radiate uncertainty and gloomy future. I ask again, who cancelled afternoon food in Nigeria? Three-square meal that was as sure as rising of the sun in many families yesterday has today become as exclusive reserve of the rich and affluent. Majority of families now observe the 1-0-1 feeding formula as a tradition, yet millions of others go on 0-1-0. Again, our dear country has succeeded is incubating a battalion hungry citizens who wake up on daily basis with no scintilla of idea on where their daily bread will come from. We have a legion of patriots whose hopes for survival on everyday is hinged on fate. In the midst of all these, we still see something to cheer about, making us occupy a pride of place in the league of happy people in the world. Like we say in our local parlance, we cannot come and kill ourselves.
Metaphorically, Nigerians are experiencing a new low in the already fractured living standard under a government that prided itself as the merchant of change before it came on board in 2015, a government that created an imaginary kingdom where milk and honey will rain day and night, a kingdom where the economy will be topnotch, a kingdom where Naira and dollar will have an equal value and a kingdom where Nigeria will become a global exporter of finished petroleum products. Glaringly, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government has resoundingly put a poor performance in all indices of development including the self-assigned 3-point agenda of enhancing security, reviving the economy and boosting the fight against corruption. With all sincerity of purpose, can the authors of this so called national roadmap thumb their chests in adulation that they have done well in any of the points? Is our security better today with the harvest of killings by bandits and terrorists across the country? With the skyrocketing poverty rate estimated to hit 45.2% and drive 100.9 million Nigerians into extreme poverty in 2022, is the economy better? Has corruption become a thing of the past in our country?
Interestingly, President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed commitment to finish strong and not to end a failure he manifestly appears to be. Beyond mere pronouncement, an action plan that will take Nigeria out of its current quagmire is what is required at this moment. Without any scintilla of doubt, a lot more Nigerians are today frustrated and unhappier than they were before the President took over power, either on the account of losing their loved ones as a result of the burgeoning insecurity in the land, payment of ransom through their nose to secure release of abducted family or loved one(s), displacement from original place of habitation, job loss leading to inability to meet up with family obligations, heightened sense of marginalization and alienation and litany of others.
The only prayer on the lips of our people is not to have infrastructure or improved living standard, rather ‘that Nigeria may remain one’. The very fabrics of our nation’s unity and peace has been fatally mutilated with the venomous teeth of tribal and religious jingoism. The very rope binding us as ‘one indivisible nation’ is nearly out of existence as secessionist agitation is at all time high. Why under this government?
As I bring this peace to conclusion, it is important to note that the twin problem of uncontrolled increase in the prices of food items and dwindling income cannot be extricated from why our people are struggling to meet the very basic human need – feeding. Prices of staple foods such as garri, beans, rice, semo, sugar et al have increased by over 130% in the last 12 months. Will same be said of their income? Today we have a situation where farmers have abandoned their farmlands and fled for fear of being felled by the bullet of men of underworld, who like the biblical adversary — the devil walking about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he (they) may devour.
Irrespective of whatever milestone this government may pontificate about for, it will cast a very big dent if all they will be remembered for is that very administration that came and supervised the deletion of ‘afternoon food’ from Nigerian homes.
Enemanna, an Abuja-based journalist writes from firstname.lastname@example.org
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