Sunday, 19 May 2013
Hail, The Year Of The Telephonic Agricultural Revolution By Ayobami Oyalowo
“It is not an arrogant government that chooses priorities, it’s an irresponsible government that fails to choose”. ~ Tony Blair
As Nigerians welcome another new year with hope and expectations of better things to come, it appears that the Nigerian government has chosen to hand the citizenry another Greek gift. Last year, Nigerians were greeted with a most spurious gift – an irresponsible hike in the price of PMS – by the PDP-led government and as we have come to expect, another folly has been unleashed. This time it is telephones for farmers. Welcome to the era of the telephonic agricultural revolution.
As the government unveils plans to spend N60 billion or $382 million dollars in buying phones for farmers, several questions are begging for answers. N60 billion, we have been told, is the cost of purchasing 10 million phones for 10 million farmers. That is excluding the costs of logistics, transportation and distribution of the phones to “qualified” farmers. We have also not been told how the figure of 10 million was arrived at. Maybe the figure was ‘divinely revealed’ since our government has been running on spiritual energy of late- remember those evil spirits in the power sector and Boko Haram as end time signs?- of course you do. Probably, in continuation of our spiritual-religious system of governance, 10 million farmers must have been revealed to the proponents of this banal idea in a vision.
Shortly before Christmas, an actress, Bisi Komolafe died of complications due to pregnancy. Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba is presently undergoing treatment in a German Hospital. Many more unknown Nigerians die cheap and needless deaths daily, due to the sorry state of our hospitals. But rather than government sincerely equipping the various teaching and specialist hospitals, buying phones for farmers is their latest scheme….sorry, scam. Pray tell, what importance is this scheme to the farmers and the generality of Nigerians?
In 2012, most parts of Nigeria was ravaged by floods and as a result, the country is presently facing a serious danger of food shortage later in the year. One would have thought this imminent food crisis would rather occupy the mind of government instead of a dubious phone scheme.
In Nigeria, agriculture and general farming is mostly practiced in the rural areas, and the reality on ground shows that most of these rural communities cannot be accessed by roads. The roads are non existent and where they exist, the roads are always so bad that a journey which ought to last an hour could probably last days and in the process, most of the produce being transported is either damaged or even lost to serious road accidents. Meanwhile, rather than those in authority seeking ways to address the poor state of these roads, they want to distribute phones to farmers.
Of what use is a phone to a farmer? Reno Omokri, the special assistant to President Jonathan on Twitter affairs, has attempted to answer this and a few other questions. He justified the phone expense by explaining that the Agric ministry will henceforth send SMS to farmers on new and improved methods of farming and also inform farmers on modern ways of doing things, work on improved/hybrid seedlings and general best practices in agriculture. What he failed to tell us is who will be responsible for the cost of recharge cards for the new phones. He also forgot to inform Nigerians about how those poor farmers will access power supply with which they will charge their phone batteries, as most rural areas are without electricity and where PHCN is available, the services are epileptic at best. Maybe the government will also buy power generators for them so that they can charge their phones, while awaiting instructions from “experts” from the ministry of agriculture.
Since Santa is still around, the government will do well to also purchase and distribute phones to students, pupils and staff of the Almajiri schools. Since the Almajiris are not regular school goers, the phones will serve as a tool to mobilise them to come for lessons. They might also consider bringing phones to other “needy” groups around the country, as this will enhance effective communication to all and sundry.
Defenders of a senseless policy do more to expose their folly while attempting to defend their ill conceived and ill thought out programs. The arguments of Mr. Omokri fall flat in the face of intelligent scrutiny. It is jejune and very inane to come out to tell Nigerians about how SMS will be sent to update farmers. What is the job of agricultural extension workers and the various farmers’ cooperatives? This writer is aware that his late grandfather and father, both farmers, benefited more from radio jingles and interaction with fellow farmers in their cooperative meetings and from visits by Agric extension workers. Therefore it is banal to come and tell Nigerians that SMS is the best way to keep farmers abreast of developments. By the way, how many of these farmers can read and write, or operate mobile phones?
Any time the government and their cronies want to defraud Nigerians, they devise new schemes. Last year it was fuel subsidy, now it is telephone for farmers. Only the "spirit" knows what Nigerians should expect next. Why not simply tell us that they want to steal money in preparation for the 2015 elections? This government is a government of scammers, who take delight only in scamming Nigerians. This ill thought and obviously irresponsible scheme is another N60 billion down the drain of infamy. Just like they stole N2.6 trillion in the guise of fuel subsidy and N32.8 billion police pension scam that later became N195 billion. It was under the watch of this same government that N2.1 billion in raw cash took a walk from the security and minting company. An amount that can fill three bullion vans disappeared without a trace.
While serious nations are developing and saving up for rainy days, court clowns and palace jesters inside the ‘Asshole’ Rock are busy piling up debt to destroy the future of even the unborn generations by their reckless spending, unbridled greed and crass insensitivity. Or how do you plan to borrow N178 billion in 2013 and at the same time spend N60 billion buying phones for imaginary farmers? Isn’t it obvious from the foregoing that the present Nigerian rulers are not only ill prepared to lead, they are equally bereft of developmental ideas, logic and cognitive abilities? They are like drunken sailors caught in a storm, who having lost all sense of reality, occasioned by their drunken states, continue to sail more in hope than in expectation.
Rulers come and go, but posterity and history remain to appraise their lives and actions while in power. Where is Mobutu Sese Seko, Idi Amin Dada, Samuel Doe and a host of other infamous tyrants? Will Goodluck Jonathan also go down the well worn path of infamy, or is he prepared to have his name written in gold? He still has over two years to rewrite history and prove to all naysayers, including this writer, that they were wrong. Or like the proverbial dog, is he too far gone to heed the hunter’s whistle?
They can continue to tell lies and bandy irresponsible schemes all over the place, in a bid to fritter away our commonwealth, but “food for the belly, belly for food, one day God shall destroy both”, says the scripture. N60 billion will conveniently pay the minimum wage of 3.3 million Nigerians. It could also be used to equip some of our hospitals, thereby reducing or eliminating the cost of numerous medical sojourns abroad which has seen Nigerians expend billions in hard currencies. But obviously the landlords in ‘Asshole’ Rock think buying mobile phones is the most pertinent need of Nigerians today.
They steal without fear because successive governments in Nigeria have always been run on a ‘paddy-paddy’ basis, therefore they fear no retribution. But one day shall “come a king that knew not Joseph”, then shall they be made to account for their actions and inactions. The “trance-formation” agenda of this government is a mirage to Nigerians and a mere cliché, bandied around in a bid to justify their inanity and brigandage.
Rape us, screw us and spit on us all you can, but one day, even a sheep, when pushed to the wall, will fight back, and that, without mercy.
Soon we are coming for you…..
I am hot and spicy on twitter @Ayourb
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters