By Ajogwu Jerry Ochada
The frenzy wind of Christmas seems not to be mild as Idoko exits his semi-detached archaically styled two-bedroom flats to exchange pleasantries with his Uncle, Pa Ocholi Adejoh, a retired railway staff who relocated home in the early ’90s to embrace active farming.
Pa Ocholi rode on his rickety bicycle from Bagaji-Odo, a nearby village to pay homage to his sister’s eldest son who arrived their country home a fortnight ago for the yuletide.
“Happy Christmas Enegbani mi”. Idoko prostrated and greeted his uncle who did not see his nephew coming out from the house because he busied himself dusting his bicycle and the basket filled with assorted delicacies in the euphoria of Christmas.
“Idoko, it took you donkey years to rise up from your bed. I know you are enjoying our weather with your wife and it is also part of Christmas celebration” he teased and embrace his ‘son’.
“Let’s go inside, the weather is too cold. How did you cope riding from Bagaji this early morning? Please come inside with me”.
Idoko detached the basket from the carrier and led his Uncle into his parlor filled with the stench of antiquity.
Pa Ocholi stood for a while with a fixed gaze on Idoko before striking him off balance.
“You are not feeling ashamed of hosting visitors in this house even though it is older than your father. I hope you are not investing and spending recklessly in no man’s land to return home empty? My son, you must be wise” he lamented.
Idoko feigned smiling even though he was not at peace with Pa Ocholi’s routine advice tasking him to build a new house because whenever he visited his hometown for Christmas, he lodges alongside his wives and 11 wives in the dilapidated structure he inherited from his grandfather.
“Uncle, you will not understand. Life in the city is not easy but we thank God for his mercies”.
He went inside his bedroom and dashed out in a jiffy with a bottle of Aromatic Schnapps, a dry gin; Pa Ocholi’s favorite.
“Uncle! I bought this for you on my way home but due to the cold weather, I suggest we drink together”.
The duo burst into laughter as they settled to drink. Pa Ocholi advised Idoko to eat one of the plates of food he brought because according to him it is too early to drink alcohol without eating a meal.
Idoko agreed to his uncle’s precautionary preaching but immediately he opened the plates he was shocked.
“Uncle! This is rice ooo. How did you do it? Rice…..”.
Pa Ocholi laughed at ease after sipping a shot of gin:
“Idoko, I told you before now that the way things are going in this country, we must embrace agriculture to survive because even civil servants will not be able to survive the outcome of governmental policies in the next decade from now”.
He sipped from his cup, cleared his throat and continued:
“I have an abundance quantity of rice from this year’s farming and I know you cannot afford even a bag of it. My son! You have to think because as I rode on my bicycle on my way here, I saw many women pounding yam and I told myself, farewell to Christmas rice”.
The above scenario is an anticipation for the 2019 yuletide season even though the writer is not Nostradamus but the reality at hand can be predicted.
All over the world, decisions reached by any government in power are rated as beneficial or anti-people but the recent closure of a notably porous border by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is a step towards the right direction, however, the initial hardship seems suffocating for the average Nigerian citizens. In a limited thought of assumption, the closure of Nigerians border will pave way for the thrive of indigenous businesses and innovations even though the positive outcomes will not kick start in the alacrity with the decision.
The skyrocketing cost of rice; an essential commodity is due to the abandonment of local production and processes. Prior to this time, Nigerians prefer to purchase and consume foreign rice even though rice farming is common amongst local farmers. The high cost of rice is a price tag Nigerians are paying for shunning indigenous production by embracing foreign markets) 2). In effect, in the aftermath of border closure even local production skyrocketed in competition with sellers of foreign rice because the aim of wholesalers is to maximize profit.
Be that as it may, it is imperative to ponder on the essence of border closure because it is alleged in some quarters that bags of rice are now smuggled into the country through Nigeria’s porous border. This may not be far from the truth owing to the country’s large landmass. It is, therefore, a new task for the government (custom) to improve their operations and professional activities to crush the ugly menace of smuggling because if not properly curtailed, it will create a new league of rich men and women generating wealth from the benevolence of border closure.
For lovers of Christmas rice, it is high time Nigerians embrace farming because in the nearest years to come, means of survival will not commensurate local income and the migration of nationals to a foreign land is already costing the country the ill effects of brain drain. It is time to look inward by scouting for opportunities to create wealth, especially within the agricultural sector as we bid farewell to Christmas rice!
– Acurrent affairs analyst sent this piece from Abuja Nigeria.
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