“The wise does at once what the fool does at last.” – Jewish Proverb
By Rev. KufreAbasi Essien
As you read these words, millions of innocent Nigerians – including the ones that you know – are consuming poisons embedded in food materials imported from China. These poisons are mainly chemicals used in the embalmment of corpses.
May be you’ve heard a story along these lines before now, and discarded as “one of those stories.” Treat this one with all amount of seriousness as it was told by a reliable source in the presidency.
Last week, while President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) was away in China, a news article hinging on a revelation by his Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, startled media watchers. The news report published in The Sensor of Monday, 11 April 2016 positions Senator Enang to have said that, “with neglect of agriculture in the Southern part of Nigeria for so long, the southerners will now have to live at the mercy of the northerners for their food needs.” This is a hard and painful truth; and a story prompt for another column piece.
The clincher in the narrative came when the Senator said, “Recently I discovered that even those who send this imported rice for us do not eat them. A Chinese came to my house the other day with a small bag of rice and I was surprised at the gift but he insisted I tried it. He revealed to me that they don’t eat the rice imported because of the long time it has been preserved with chemicals used to preserve dead bodies; so they are dangerous. He said the rice he presented to me is fresh from their farm. The apples a lot of people eat are also preserved with similar chemicals. Yet this is what Nigerians prefer to eat. We must put an end to this.”
I don’t know what the presidential aide intended to achieve with this story. To scare people and nudge them into accepting the banning of imported rice while encouraging local production and consumption? If that was his intent, then I bet he got much more than that. He also exposed the pitiable state of the Nigerian state in handling sensitive issues of this nature.
Senator Enang did well in alerting the press on the poisoned products in circulation. But he did not demonstrate enough patriotism in the manner that he processed the information ab initio. The confession by his Chinese guest forecloses the “small bag of rice” as a genuine gift; it was a legal bribe for a licence to harp Nigeria’s despondency in the presence of the president’s aide.
How despicable! How sure was the Senator that the rice that he received wasn’t also laced with poisonous preservatives? Just because his Chinese guest told him it was “fresh from the farm” wasn’t enough truth. Our leaders shouldn’t be gullible.
It is worrisome that with this kind of information, the Presidency and other relevant agencies, up till now, have not called for the withdrawal of the poisoned products from circulation? Even NAFDAC has not gone after the distributors of these products. If these products are as dangerous as portrayed, where were custom officers, port security and border checks when they were brought into the country? Or is there some sort of compromise and conspiracy against Nigerians?
It will be disrespectful to doubt the veracity of information placed in the public domain by a personality like Senator Ita Enang. But for reasons of fairness to the Chinese government, whose partnership PMP is courting, and for the overall good of the consuming public, it may be pertinent for government to conduct a public scientific inquisition into the poisoned rice and apple alert. Failure to do this will equate a calculated attempt to keep the populace in dark speculation.
Government at all levels should commission independent reputable laboratories to collect and test samples of these mentioned food materials for the presence of the poisonous substances alleged in Senator Enang’s story. Reports of such inquisition published in national dailies will help restore public trust in government’s grip on quality control of products circulated for public consumption in Nigeria.
Has the Buhari administration the moral and political courage to embark on a scientific inquest into this matter? With his campaign against corruption, PMP shouldn’t have any problem with the recommendation. After all, truth is a major component in any genuine fight against corruption. And truth, especially when human lives depend on it, should be most sought.
It is only through scientific inquisition that the veracity of Senator Enang’s claim can be ascertained. If such a story is confirmed by scientific inquiry, then PMP may need to review the relationship between Abuja and Beijing. If the contrary holds, then Senator Ita Enang would have succeeded in placing himself in the eye of the storm for causing a national scare with international ramifications all in an attempt to market an excruciating change policy on food importation. (Culled from The Sensor Newspaper).