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Update on chronic famine in Nigeria By Torobong Ekpo

While we were subjecting ourselves into Party, religious and ethnic lines, one Ita Eyo Ene, a native of Ikot Ansa in Calabar, Cross River State, committed suicide as a result of biting poverty the present economy has subjected him into.

Some months ago, his suicide predecessor (still an indigene of Ikot Ansa) took his life away in a grand style.  A look at the residence of the deceased as shown on social media proves to me that, if the trend continues, there may be a replica of Arawak case in the then Caribbean society, where the Arawaks committed mass suicide in order to avoid forced labor.

Yea, the present economy under the watch of former Military Administrator, now civilian President, Muhamadu Buhari, has not subjected anyone to forced labour like in the aforementioned case, but what could be more “forceful” than an economy where two cups of garri is sold at hundred naira nation wide.

I wouldn’t want to talk about the increase in prices of Petroleum product from eighty seven naira to one hundred and forty five naira because PMS does not directly affect that common man, woman, child in the village. What affects the downtrodden is the price of Kerozine which has drastically increased from seventy naira to two hundred and fifty naira per liter.  I don’t know if President Buhari is in the know that Rice is sold at hundred naira per cup, ice fish, from three hundred and fifty naira upward, despite the loots his information Minister, Lai Mohammed  claimed to have recovered from unknown names.

Let me pause here to say that it is surprising to see a vocal Minister being skeptic to mention alleged looters. Maybe, he may sum up courage and expose them (if any) before the year two thousand and eighteen. Commodities are so high for a common man to purchase. Even dollar is scares to an extent that buyers are unable to purchase. Just this morning, I was informed of a business lady who dropped a life departure letter to his surviving kids. Unconfirmed Reports claim that she thrown herself into an ocean with his little kid as a result of abject poverty she has witnessed since May 29th, 2015.

These stories are not fiction. They are reality. Things are so hard under the watch of President Buhari to an extent that, if our youths have grown beyond imposing themselves on political parties, I think, they would have held this government to a stalemate. Regrettably, as youths, especially in Akwa Ibom State, we have refused to see vision, we have also close our eyes on truth and rather prefer to be seen via PDP and APC boys and girls even when the political parties “no even send us.”

Rivers State youths may not be complaining, at least if they don’t go to Wike, Rotimi Amaechi is there. If the latter is asleep and doesn’t want to talk to anyone, then there is Ibim and Peterside, who have been empowered heavily by the Federal Government. Truth is, Rivers youths see politics as game of interest whereas we perceived it as “hard man” thing.

Anywere, in Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, Ita Enang , Udoma Udo Udoma are also there. Hope our youths know all of them “very well”. So far, can we sincerely claim as youth that the Federal and state government have been able to positively affect us in tandem with the forces we fought for them? I think, NO. What we are trying to do is to have faith and hope, even when none exists. In Akwa Ibom State, can any youth directly employed by the State government be proud and bold to say that he or she is happy with the appointment? How would one be happy with a portfolio without official car, in spite of the rumor that the previous government had multi billion naira contract with Toyota Company.

How could one be happy with appointment where he earns one point one million naira per annum? If you divide 1.1 million into 12, maybe, that is the day you will stop calling them Honourable. Is this not the same scenario that ex-Governor Godswill Akpabio used to pronounce Tufiakwa to it? Even though there is no money in government, I think, anyone who is known as an aide to a governor of a state should have some demarcations with a common man on the street. It is only in this state government that an aide to a governor joins bus at Barracks Road by Plaza, stops at Judiciary then stroll down to government house with Identity card hanged on his neck.

This is sign of uncommon poverty embedded in this state. I read a warning piece written by Sage Samuel Ituama, where he threatened to sue Udom for neglecting the thirteen percent oil entitlement accrued to Esit Eket  local government Area. I also read Idorenyin Umana epistle to the governor, some minutes after Obong Nsima Ekere’s name was sent to the Red Chambers as MD NDDC nominee.  Both Ituama and Umana are chronic fans of PDP. For them to have taken such shot on the leader of their party, it means all is not well both in the party at the National and in the state. Off course the inability for the party to conduct a convention till date is another revelation to the exposition made by the duo. Famine has been customized in this state to a point that many streets have started experiencing touch of pilferers and armed robbers. Cultists are beginning to come up enmasse with a view of showcasing talent.

Last week someone called me with unknown number and warned me not to write anything against his paymaster else he will kill me. I perceived such babyish threat as comedy, because if he was serious he ought to have used his line. To me, all these are symptoms of famine christened in this land.

Aside from Ita Enang and Udoudoma, whose impacts are fairly felt. Who among the Federal Government appointees can our youths access and smile home happily? To me, Akwa Ibom State has somehow been marginalized not by the Federal Government, but by ourselves.

I was ashamed when some bench warmers in the politics of our great nation tried in futility to castigate the latest appointee when they ought to be playing Oliver Twist. How many Federal appointees do we even have that will warrant us to be fighting one another? I think, this is also sign of famine embedded in the system.

As youths, if we take a look at other youths across the nation (exception of Calabar youths) I guess we will be ashamed of ourselves. An Igbo youth goes to his market place on daily basis and come back home with result. A Sapalle, Warri and Asaba lad moves to refinery and come back home smiling. But what does a typical Akwa Ibom youth indulge on? He goes to a politician house and shout MY LEADER (I hope they are aware that, such name has spiritual implication, especially if the perceived LEADER understands the spiritual dynamism of controlling One’s destiny via utterances)

A typical youth in our dear state believes in opening online account with a view of showcasing sycophantic talent on HIS LEADER. He wants to be seen as APC or PDP man, even when he doesn’t have a party membership card. Even professionals are also found wanting on this aspect. A careful check on Front Page of tabloids will tell a pedestrian which political party the board of editors belong.

The Judiciary are also showcasing this trait. Off course, Justice Abang, could issue an injunction order even on public holiday talk less of on Sunday. I am not saying that Abang has compromised, I am only saying that, he is hardworking and could work even on Sundays and Public Holidays if given an opportunity.

Like Niyi Osundare, I am optimistic that sooner or later, this drastic famine we are experiencing will be history. There will come a time where Udom Gabriel Emmanuel will provide cars for his aides. A time where Federal Government will issue appointment to many Akwa Ibomites, a time where Inokon Inokon of Awa Iman, whose house was allegedly destroyed under the watchful eyes of military men, will have a new house.

I am sure, there will come a time, where that State commissioner who is fond of pounding his wife like yam will turn a new leaf.  I am certain that soon, the money recovered from looters will be used to alleviate this bondage we are going through on daily basis.

So far, prices of all commodities have increased, yet minimum wage has remained stagnant. University Lecturers are paid on per percentage basis. Federal workers are suffering and smiling. Who knows if this is sign of the second coming of Christ?  I wish our clerics, especially that one who used to prophecy which football team will win can help us out.

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