The federal government of Nigeria has agreed to pay the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuffs and Cattle Dealers in Nigeria (AUFCDN) N4.75billion as the union suspends its North-South food blockade.
AUFCDN President Muhammad Tahir made the announcement in Abuja after a meeting with federal authorities, represented by Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello.
“All stakeholders and members of AUFCDN in our nationwide strike are glad we achieved what we wanted to achieve. Since Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello begged us on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, we agreed to call off the nationwide strike today 4th March, 2021.
“They agreed to pay the compensation and call off multiple taxation on the federal highways and allow us to engage in our business activities peacefully nationwide,” Mr. Tahir said.
In other words, Mr. Tahir disclosed to the Nation that Aso Villa agreed to ensure protection of its members, stop multiple taxation and intimidation by security agents on the roads.
Other demands presented by Mr. Bello before the government through the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, includes the protection of the union’s members and permission to withdraw its services from states in case of an attack.
The union had initiated an indefinite strike a couple of a week ago, in protest of the loss of lives and properties in the region from insecurity.
As food blockades entered its second week today and before this agreement was reached, mixed reactions trailed the decision of Farmers of Northern Extraction to deny the South food.
The strange blockade of Trucks bearing food stuffs from the North to the South particularly around the Border states of Kogi, Niger and Kwara which commenced penultimate Thursday hadb now entered its second week with Key actors playing and dancing to discordant tones..
The Miyetti Allah Association, The Umbrella body for all Herders have been noted to have warned of this strike earlier basing it on the loss of their Members and cattle following some skirmishes down South.
They had equally called on Government to compensate their members otherwise the STRIKE or Blockade would continue.
For now, it is hard to connect this Threat with that which was made by other Food Unions as the Blockade persisted since its common Knowledge that their Cattle which have always traversed the Country from North to South have continued unabated.
In another statement signed by the President of THE AMALGANATED. UNION OF FOODSTUFF AND CATTLE TRADERS, Mohammed Tahir and dated 19th of February, had also called on its members to embark on this strike which now appeared to have been enforced by the Two Unions.
The Department of State Services (DSS), taking their time to be convinced there was a crisis, responded later by inviting the leadership of both Unions while the prices of the goods went up in the South drastically.
The Amalgamated Union of Food stuffs and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria confirmed the News of the invitation in another statement signed by The General Secretary, Alhaji Alaramma who claimed it’s President was currently still in detention for interrogation.
As at the time of this article, the prices of food around the Country, particularly in the North had suffered the following fate:
- Jos (Barkin Ladi): A bag of Irish Potatoes dropped from 17000 to 9000.
- Kano: Farmers went to the extent of unsuccessfully trying to use the Airport to move food down South as actions were stopped.
- Meanwhile in Dutse, a bag of Onions crashed from 35,000 to 7,000.
- Kaduna: A waste bin basket of Tomatoes fell to just above 100 from 8,000 even as buyers are scarce.
- Minna (Garatu): A pick up truck load of 1ft sized yam tubers fell from from 45,000 to 18,000.
A trader, Musa Tijani interviewed in Kano disclosed that if the Blockade had continued they would have lost over 10billlion and indeed while it lasted, the loss was grievous. He had appealed on the Leadership of the Unions responsible to allow them bring their food stuff down South noting that most of their goods were perishables and they had almost all gone bad.
However, in a strange twist, Farmers from the Middle Belt Region comprising of the Southern parts of Adamawa, Borno, Southern Kaduna, Kebbi, Bauchi and Benue came out strongly to condemned the Blockade while it lasted and disassociated themselves from the blockade, reiterating their resolve to continue trading with Southern Nigerians..
In all of these, the oddest development, watchers say, seems to be the total silence from the Presidency. The citizens had expect that the President would have addressed the nation on the tension between the regions before it degenerated, and arrest the problem before it turned into an emergency. Yet, as fillers in the country show, not a word from The President, not even through spokespersons, Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina.
Most Nigerians say the Federal Government carried on as if there was no brewing internal trade war between the North and South until the news filtering in on a likely compensation.
It is indeed very baffling to many who questioned if the actions of Miyetti Allah and AUFCDN in single-handedly enforcing a blockade of North – South trade was not treasonable.
Coming on the heels of their invitation by the DSS, the loss of revenue and the discordant tones from the Sahel, it was highly unlikely that the blockade could have survived its second week with food wasting in millions and farmers going cap in hand to survive in the North.
Some went as far as Niger Republic, Togo, and Cameroon in search of markets for their produce.
In another report, the Senior Special Assistant to the Kano State Governor, Salisu Yakasai, son of Elder Statesman and Northern politician, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai has just been granted bail after his alleged arrest and detention after he was sacked by the state governor.
Silence Yakasai, aka Dawusi, was allegedly picked up by the DSS following his criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari’s handling of the current insecurity situation in the Country. However, the DSS had earlier denied involvement in the travail of Yakasai.
This is even as speculation is high that the elder Yakasai was in 1984 arrested by the then Major General Muhammadu Buhari military regime while the younger Yakasai was arrested by the administration of President Buhari as a civilian administration. These are just food for thoughts.