Nigeria, we can’t go on like this; we have to keep asking why
So tomatoes are expensive right now. However, that is beside the point I am talking about three year ago, when it was not even available. Why? Because some blight struck the tomato farms in Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Plateau states, according to reports. The blight was so severe, so serious that Dangote Farms’ tomato processing factory had to shut down its plant because of a shortage of the fruit.
It was serious bad news, considering that the majority of meals prepared in Nigeria have tomatoes as some sort of garnishment. It has become so much a part of our meals that many cannot consider frying eggs without including tomatoes. Some cannot prepare noodles without tomatoes. Let’s not even go near jollof rice.
Wherever you’re standing, it was a bleak picture. But I’m writing all of these to make a point.
The pest, called Tutaabsoluta has been streaking across the world for a while now, originating from South America. According to nigerianeye.com, something similar occurred four years ago in some farms in Nigeria, but it wasn’t as bad as we experienced. They also reported that it took Sudan roughly three years to recover from a 2010 attack from the same pests. With the way we deal with issues of natural disaster, you can imagine just how long it took us to embark on the road to recovery.
Hello. What is the job of our ministers?
Now this is the question nagging in my heart – How prepared is Nigeria for catastrophe? Every time a natural disaster occurs somewhere in the world, I bite my knuckles in fear because I cannot help but think: What if that was my country?
Remember the 2012 floods in Nigeria?
In some riverine states, serious rains caused some very devastating floods. I wasn’t in any of those states, but I saw pictures from friends and relatives who were. I would still say we were quite lucky. As severe as the damage was, it was more a loss of property than of lives. But I am sure people still haven’t recovered fully.
I always worry, especially now more than ever with the state of the nation and the way things are headed, what if war breaks out? What if there was no fuel, no power for a week all over the nation? What’s the worst that could happen?
We are the nation that knows how to create irrelevant positions in public offices just so some selfish people can eat more from the national cake. But we are the most vulnerable and defenseless nation in history – since Israel shattered the walls of Jericho all those years ago. Where is the place of ensuring that, at least, public lives and property are secured – up to a point? What’s stopping these people from putting infrastructure in place that at least protect the people from natural disasters for the most part?
I know that this is beginning to sound like one of those lets-criticise-Nigeria-for-criticism-sake rants that are popular online, but that’s not my aim here. The thing is that learned apathy is one of the things that are killing us slowly in Nigeria right now. Things are bad – really bad, and if no one is doing or even saying anything about these issues, are we not lost?
Fine. The tomato issue may or may not have been avoidable, but what lessons are we learning from this now? What things are being put in place to avoid a repeat? Remember the flood thing? Have measures been enacted to prevent a reoccurrence? Are we learning from our mistakes at all?
I’m just asking.
In spite of all the tomato-producing states we have, Nigeria is still one of the world’s largest tomato paste importer. Why?