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In my own thinking
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What I am used to hearing all the while is that a hungry man is an angry man. Until recently an academic friend of mine at the University of Port Harcourt, Dr Njoku Tony, with whom I regularly exchange ideas opened my understanding to another statement that a hungry man can hardly think well. In what looks like propounding a theory he went further to seriously justify his claim when he insisted that the reason we are not able to rationalize situations properly and bring solutions is because we are always under the attack of hunger. He had queried if the three basic needs of man does not include food, shelter and clothing. He identified that of these three foods remains the most challenging to keep life going.

What I am used to hearing all the while is that a hungry man is an angry man. Until recently an academic friend of mine at the University of Port Harcourt, Dr Njoku Tony, with whom I regularly exchange ideas opened my understanding to another statement that a hungry man can hardly think well. In what looks like propounding a theory he went further to seriously justify his claim when he insisted that the reason we are not able to rationalize situations properly and bring solutions is because we are always under the attack of hunger. He had queried if the three basic needs of man does not include food, shelter and clothing. He identified that of these three foods remains the most challenging to keep life going.


    What had precipitated the argument was the unprecedented rate of death experienced in our various communities. The French lecturer had no problems linking the high death rate to poor feeding and basically the inability of people to access food. When he made this point it sunk well into me as I quickly recalled a remark from a doctor relation of mine who operates in my village few years back. He had said that a greater percentage of the health challenges brought to his clinic results from malnutrition suffered by the people. According to him after examining the patients and making this discovery he would advise them to step up their feeding with a balanced diet and would follow this up with a call to their children to ensure correct feeding for their parents. He would discharge them with usual multi-vitamin drugs.
    In the so called developed societies food is taken for granted. It remains the commonest thing to worry about. It is available and affordable. While they have gone past food needs and exploring the space to seek the abode of God, we are still struggling to fill our stomach to remain alive. Shockingly in our own clime with our ever growing population, good climate, fertile soil, and varieties of numerous food crops we cannot feed ourselves. Instead we place more emphasis on imported foods, growing other countries economy while we suffer from unemployment and hunger. Back to the postulation of Dr Njoku on hunger and thinking well. I can also recall in my working days in the bank, one of our senior colleagues Henry Ajagbawa, had always scolded us that we are mentally lazy and extended this remark to the entire Nigerian population. He would charge us with indolence and note that we are given brains to work out our challenges rather than running to the next superior to dump the issues.
    He got us to think, and to think out of the box. If you think you will quickly run to dump your issues on his desk because the boss must know better you are wrong. Some work situations are so challenging demanding your creative abilities that you cannot find the answers in the rule books. He would throw it back to you to find a way around it and most often we did. It was revealing. It is true indeed that as Nigerians we hardly task ourselves to think out solutions to issues we are confronted with. Little wonder at the slightest confrontation by any challenge we run to our Pastor or General Overseer a.k.a Daddy whom we think hold the magic wand to miracle away our problems. This includes even situations we may have created, for which the solution may possibly require us to reverse the process through which we walked ourselves into it.
    The respected French teacher spared some moments to throw curses at those who enthroned the hardship of hunger on the people through bad leadership. It brought pressure on us all. And he remembered the lyrics of Ras Kimono which corroborated the claim of pressure to which we are victims. Ras Kimono sang that we are under pressure: 'Nigeria under pressure, Africa under pressure, no money in our pocket, some are weeping, some are crying, some are wailing, people are dying, people are suffering in the city, in the ghetto'. The current situation in our land is that food is scarce and the money to buy it even more scarce. And this puts us under severe pressure of survival.
    A hungry person is vulnerable. He is exposed to crimes if he lacks the discipline to resist some of the tempting but dangerous offers that may be dangled before him. In fact, no matter how disciplined one may be, it takes special courage to say no to some exposures. This is the reason our young women are exposed to prostitution and the boys take to armed robberies and other crimes. It is also hunger and by extension greed that lures our public officers to loot the treasury. They are motivated by the fear of hunger and the need to maintain the status quo after public office. The endemic corrupt nature of our society results from hunger and the need to keep heads above water.
    I have almost drifted away finally from Dr.Njoku's argument on hunger and thinking well. He went on to say that we are the way we are because we are perpetually fighting off hunger. The major challenge always is to keep the stomach filled at all times with food or what he said his friend called 'dead stone', because we are more disposed to starchy foods egfufu, yam. He said that when we are perpetually focused on a war we are not winning, this leads us into more confusion as we are constantly thinking of how to stuff the belly with whatever that can keep it happy. With the cost of garri as it is at present, nobody is talking about food in balance or varieties but just to have something in the stomach to provide us the needed energy for locomotion. 
    He insists that when people have not fed themselves well they hardly have time for other issues and if they do for most of the time it must be food related or something that should be able to put food on the table. Both of us eventually agreed that poor feeding (malnutrition) is the major cause of deaths in our society. If we eat disease resistant foods in their varieties and quantities we are likely to stave of disease attack by building very strong immunity. Thinking a little more there seems to be some corollary between food, hunger and level of development.
    The so called political leaders who are entrusted with the state resources to develop the nation or their respective institutions find opportunity in looting the same resources to feed their palates and provide for future consumption. Rather than grow food to ensure food security for all they are more concerned with their own personal security which they secure by depleting the resources of the state through embezzlement. Having pauperized the populace, they turn them beggarly and feeble and make them vulnerable to accept crumbs from the master's table. During electioneering campaigns they gratify the hungry masses to return them to power or use the same loot to rig themselves to power. This is the recurring decimal we are confronted with in our land and indeed Africa.
    It is a sad commentary that some governors pride themselves that they rode to power on the strength of providing stomach infrastructure. How then can our state develop when the leaders are not sincerely committed to any genuine development agenda? If this is not the case why have we not been able to feed ourselves in spite of our ever growing populations? While our populations are soaring to high heavens our leaders are so short sighted to institute efforts or plans to accommodate the increased mouths. Instead we are more concerned in growing other country's economy by importing foods grown there and yet regale ourselves with the tag of developing economy and even claimed a leadership status some time ago in Africa. In reality, can we actually grow when we are not able to feed ourselves?
    If we are sincere in fighting crime and corruption we should reduce the hunger in the land to the barest minimum. Many people steal only for survival and may have no need dipping hand in the treasury or petty crimes if they can feed themselves to remain alive. One can imagine what is paid as minimum wage in a country so blessed with natural endowments. It is still a wonder to me why the government and indeed everybody is not yet focused in the matter of aggressive food production. I can still recall back in the days as a growing child food was the commonest thing you can access. Virtually everybody farmed. Every home had a backyard (mgbala) where the women grew pepper, vegetable, cocoyam, okro, etc. Preparing food was just like taking a walk to the backyard and food was ready
    How did we get to this point? So many things have indeed fallen apart. Can we ever get it right again? When we feed well there will be less anger and agitations, we will think well and do other things well. 'Give us this day our daily bread' and if food is not so important it would not have been in our Lords prayer.

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