The south of Nigeria mostly depends on the north for its food, but the farmers-herders crisis is driving a wedge through that business relationship.
Alhaji Bello, a peripatetic salesman who hawks beef around Surulere, Lagos, has been forced out of business for well over a week now.
“Meat is so expensive now,” he tells Pulse, his blackened hands quickly shoved into his blood stained trousers. “In fact, we don’t even see the meat to buy anymore.”
In the last couple of weeks, suspected hoodlums and brigands in the northern region have been impounding food trucks making their way down Nigeria’s south in what has been labelled a reprisal move, as ethnic tension stemming from a recurring farmers-herders crisis engulfs Africa’s most population.
Some northern elements have vowed to punish and economically sabotage the south by starving the region of food items, after open grazing of cattle was outlawed by powerful state governors in the southwest and after violence erupted in Oyo and Ondo states; as indigent settlers and Hausas clashed over open grazing and destroyed farmlands.
Trucks laden with cows and perishable items like onions, pepper and tomatoes are now getting impounded along the Ilorin-Jebba expressway and around the Kwara, Benue borders, with the drivers handed marching orders to head back north.
Sometimes, these food trucks are looted or burnt for effect, our correspondents have reported.
The consequence is that Lagos, which is Nigeria’s most populous city with its numerous mouths to feed, is running out of beef, tomatoes, pepper, garlic, ginger, onions and other vegetables.
Empty tables and stalls
Pulse has been visiting different markets across Cele, Surulere, Ijesha, Isolo, Gbagada, Mushin, Ikeja and the cow markets in Oke Afa and Cele.
The abattoirs are empty and the vegetable stalls are begging to be restocked.
“No meat to buy. The abattoir where we buy meat has no meat. They have not received any purchase in the last week. I bought some meat on Saturday, but it was difficult to sell,” Wale, a beef seller at Cele, says.