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Nigerian Cassava Bread: The President’s Economic Magic

By on December 12, 2011

I would like to categorically state that I have no qualms about any plan(s) that would move the country forward economically. However, starting that “economic plan” on a comic note is rather appalling. Perhaps, the senseless passion with which Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the President of Nigeria, presented the cassava bread would save the country from her plethora of economic woes. Or maybe, with this, one should conclude that our beloved country is on a journey to an inexorable destiny.

Hear the president: “…to formally present this bread to Nigerians. I have been eating this bread for the past one week and I will continue to eat this bread till I leave state house (sic).” After the presentation of the bread, a loud applause filled every corner of the room and shining smiles bounced on each face present. The bread was passed around to the “honourables” which they ate and got filled with “economic” wisdom. The bread heals!

One can summarise the event with these words: “Let us eat this bread and be rich.” The Minister of Agriculture, Adesina Akinwunmi, says the bread will, “create a lot of jobs, create markets for our farmers, stabilise prices and give us a pride in the fact that we are actually eating what we produce.”

The questions begin to spring up here immediately: what kind of jobs? Which farmers is the honourable minister referring to here? What pride is he talking about here? Whatever happened to the rebranding project? The minister was also quick to give beautiful statistics about the positive impact the bread would have on our National budget. However, most Nigerians, including me, would like to know the budget set out to produce the cassava bread. How many companies have been consulted to produce this bread? How much has been spent on marketing it? Who are the individuals involved in this project? Should we conclude that since the bread possesses some magical characteristics, it has no production cost or sale price? I stand to be corrected.

It seems that the bread’s mystical introduction would eliminate the realistic issues before our ordinary eyes. For instance, when you have one or two bites of the bread, one would immediately forget about the Boko Haram issues. There would be no more extermination of human lives in several parts of the country. A single bite by the Boko Haram instigators would give them a change of heart and make them smile forever. The bread is a psychological cleansing agent.

After all, according to Goodluck, “China closed all her doors and restructure everything and begin to think again (sic).” The key word here is “restructure” and this cannot start from the introduction of a mere commodity that would leave the country with no visible societal impact. May I use this medium to recapitulate what “restructure” means: “to change the make-up organisation, or pattern of something.” In that light, we may want to consider what needs to be changed or patterned appropriately in Nigeria.

First, the educational standard of Nigeria is standing with spindly legs and if appropriate measures are not taken to save her, she might collapse and die. Recently, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on an indefinite strike. Students would have to endure another season of idleness which sometimes leads to devilish acts. The magical bread would keep them from evil works. The bread heals! The UK, in 2009, made a whooping eight billion pounds from international students searching for good University education and Nigerian students alone contributed ten percent of that gargantuan sum. Suffice it to say, if proper “restructuring” takes place in the educational sector of Nigeria, we can avert such funds to our national income and invariably, equip the crippling minds of most youths in our country.

To gain the full “restructure” status, the nation needs to be free from all evil practices especially corruption. The President needs to lead by example. Let him declare his assets to the nation. Before we eat the bread of wisdom, can he tell us how much he has in his personal coffers? We have not forgotten quickly about how he waved the idea with his brave tone. Or did he eat the bread before now? What about the subsidy issue? Is that not something very important to talk about? The fabric of the nation is woven with threads of corruption. These threads should be changed before brilliant projects emerge in the social strata called Nigeria. Does the bread also make one forget the meaning of things? Does it make one reason unrealistically? To put it simply, does it make an individual blind to reality?

Strict attention should be paid to the unemployment issue in Nigeria. Over sixty percent of Nigerian graduates are jobless. Is it not an issue that deserves utmost attention? In 2012, the statistics might remain the same or grow worse as there are no structures set aside by this government to tackle unemployment. Then again, a mere bite of the so called cassava bread might make an unemployed individual believe he has a job.

Let us think about what the president said again. He said: “I will continue to eat the bread till I leave state house.” Nice. Is the bread already in circulation? Is it exclusive to Aso Rock members? Is the bread a magical avenue to suck in more funds? Some Nigerians would like the president to solve the major agricultural problems strangling the nation: provision of new farming technologies, proper education of local farmers and promotion of other agricultural commodities.

On another note, who advises the president? Is this the right time to come up with this project? I think there are other things the president and his expensive team could come up with. This is a weak shot!

History would not forgive individuals who use various approaches to pilfer from the national cake. It is only plain to see that Goodluck is toeing that line of presidents that would not contribute to the development of the country. Putting the wheel before the cart is a very dangerous exercise. Serious issues deserve serious attention. Let the president attend to more pertinent issues before attending to inane projects that would leave the citizens in their normal state. Nigerians deserve better!

Editor’s note: This guest post is written by Michael O. Irene, he is working on his first piece of fiction, The Judging SeedsCurrently, he is enrolled for a PHD in Creative Writing at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge.

One Comment

  1. David Agogo

    December 12, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Another piece whining about Nigeria. I expected to at least see some of the statistics that were quoted or some effort to find answers to the questions raised in paragraph four. But you were too eager to play with the sarcastic ‘bread of wisdom’ metaphor, weren’t you?