On my way to Okhija, Anambra State in January this year, I stopped in the Onitcha Central Market in Upper Iweka Road to get some fresh fruits for my consumption for the rest of my journey. I was surprised at the skyrocketing prices of fruits like carrots, water melons and even cucumber which we almost got free of charge in my school days. I was asking the reason for the increasing prices of fruits but some of the traders around seemed to find by question really funny, as one of them said “e be like say you just dey come from Ghana? if na naija you dey you for know say the price of fruit don begin rise since the crisis for north started” What the trader meant was that the increasing prices of fresh fruits was as a result of the Bokoharam insurgency in some of the northern states, as most of the fruits are being produced and transported down from northern Nigeria.
The singular fact that a crisis or unrest in any part of the country is directly and indirectly felt and virtually reflects on the economic and social wellbeing in another part is a testament and a strong indication that Nigeria is one big family. When the youth restiveness in the Niger Delta was at its highest peak, even the people of Sokoto state felt the impact, as the money from oil which should be pumped into the economy to boost trade and commerce wasn’t forthcoming due to the mere fact that crude oil exploration was hampered and slowed as a result of the activities of the militants at the time. As small as the town of Okene, Kogi State is, because of its strategic location as the gateway through which the north is accessible to the eastern and western Nigeria and vice versa, crisis or restiveness in this part usually makes headlines and cripple economic activities because the free flow of goods and services across the nation is slowed down.
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The hundreds of trailers and trucks fully loaded with Yams, Pepper and Tomatoes, all kinds of fruit, cows and donkeys, beans and grains etc all heading down south from the North, as prominent along Abuja-Okene and Mokwa-Jebba highways is a pointer to the fact that the rest of Nigeria cannot do without the north and vice versa. Indeed our indivisibility truly lies in our inter-dependency on each other. Crisis in Aba, Abia State, Where about 52% of the made-in-Nigeria shoes are produced, or in Onitcha, Anambra state which has since proved to be the second largest commercial centre after Lagos, immediately is felt as far as Yobe and Ekiti States and goes on to affect economic activities nationwide.
The gospel truth is that every part of Nigeria, regardless of tribe difference, religious affiliation or ethnicity is as important as the other and is fully dependent on the others for survival and economic activities. It is no longer news, that one of the factors that led to the surrender of the Biafra soldiers and later ended the war was the partial closure of the Niger bridge, which hampered free flow of food and services from the rest of Nigeria to the East. This shows that no part of this country can “stand” without the others. All over Nigeria, the industry, resilience and business sagacity of an Igbo man is known, felt and daily appreciated, they are found in every nook and corners of this country, doing their legitimate businesses and adding value to their host communities through trade and commerce.
The endurance, aggressiveness and patience of the Hausa-Fulani man who are found almost every where in Nigeria has not only increased the quality of lives and meet the nutritional requirement of Nigerians, but the legitimate activities of Hausa farmers and businessmen, and Fulani Herdsmen has greatly boosted the economy of Nigeria. The intellectual prowess and administrative acumen of the Yoruba man is a luxury that the rest of Nigeria cannot do without, their businessmen and women who are scattered across the length and breadth of this country and beyond is a source of pride to the nation and is adding values to the quality of lives of Nigerians.
Just like a vehicle, in which all the component parts plays important roles in ensuring a smooth and hitch-free movement from one point to the other i.e. the steering, the tiers, the side, rare and front mirrors, the head light and every other lights, the clutch, brake and accelerator, the cooling fan and after parts of the engine etc, Nigeria is a moving “vehicle” in which every part of this country, across tribes, religion and ethnicity is a component part of this “vehicle” and has important roles to play at ensuring a smooth and hitch-free “journey” No part is superior or inferior to the others, as every component is equally as important as the others in a vehicle. Close the Niger Bridge for only one week and you will realize how “bad” we all need each other. Nigeria is indeed one big family!
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