Bodija, one of the largest markets in the city of Ibadan, is always filled with the hustle and bustle of traders and buyers.
It is a melting pot of many indigene, and schools surrounding it. Due to its proximity to the University of Ibadan, her students are not found wanting in this market as they patronize it consistently to get foodstuffs. Bodija is no doubt a food web, a testimony to the vast agricultural prosperity of Nigeria. The question is then; if places like Bodija market and other market places evidently show that food production is evergreen, why then do we hunger?
Agriculture is the mainstay of the Nigerian economy employing, directly or indirectly, approximately two-third of the country’s total labour force and contributing 40 percent to Nigeria’s GDP. Nigeria produces lot of food crops, yet it is a food deficit nation because she relies heavily on imported goods rather than her own local food. This largely contributes to the lackadaisical attitude that agriculture enjoys in the country, especially from the elite. Moreover, people that patronize the market are largely low income earners whose need to get affordable food is paramount. Because their purchasing power is low, and will not be able match the vast efforts of the farms, agricultural produces become spoilt in large quantities.
More so, the economic downturn has really made worthless the little value money in the hands of buyers. Students are the worst hit. Did I say earlier on that you can practically get food at cheaper rate and in larger quantities? Pardon me, reverse is the case now. A couple of months back at Bodija, you can take the sum of ₦5000 to get foodstuffs and still even get the chance to buy things you don’t even need, but now you have to make rational choices of what to buy and not what to buy, courtesy of the economy. Most students, who now prefer to buy foodstuffs due to the surge in prices of cooked food at the cafeterias, are increasingly being limited to a few food items due largely to the almost worthless value of their pocket allowances.
Meanwhile, the market is where you find different categories of people: men and women, some old citizens, spiritedly going about in search of any menial jobs just to put food in their stomachs; young kids who ought to be in school are found wandering market roads clinging annoyingly to people for money. However blessed the country is, it has lost focus or should I say have become myopic to the issue of unemployment and education which can definitely contribute to the growth of the economy.
Bodija market brings to mind how filthy and unhealthy Nigeria market places can be. In contrast to market in developed countries where the market places are conducive and hygienic enough for consumers to purchase their goods, most Nigeria local marketsare dirty. For instance, raw food like meat, fish, rice, garri etc. are exposed to dust, flies and gas burning out of the engines of cars and trucks. Health is wealth they say and if most of the market places in the country are not clean enough, then its citizens are not safe. Inasmuch as the government implements policies to help keep market places clean, marketers still remain obstinate. Nigeria is indeed at the edge for help.
Talking about disorganization, Bodija market is a definition of that. You find sellers all cramp together, trucks and vehicles passing through the narrow route and situations where you do not find the seller behind her wares and having other sellers hauling out her name. All these represent our leaders who themselves are disorganized. They do all they can to get to power and on getting there, they discover that they cannot handle ruling the country so they just resolute to also steal the country’s wealth like their predecessors. This is what you call “Bodija madness”.
It is therefore sounds really incredible when one hears people say that there was a time Nigeria had good moment. I simply disagree. Fine, things were a lot cheaper, but was there anything like electricity, water and good roads back then? Did they have it rosy? Nigeria was never a paradise so there is no paradise lost here. It was just a bunch of people tolerating. Tolerating is now a mild term, the economy state is now depressing. We need help!!!
*Afolasade Ola is a 200 level student of the department of English, University of Ibadan.