About six container loads of imported, ‘contaminated’ frozen poultry products confiscated and buried by men of the Nigerian Customs Service were recently dug up for sales and consumption by residents of Ebubu, Eleme in Rivers state of Nigeria.

The Scavengers at it

The Scavengers at it

The poultry products were certified unhealthy for human consumption by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) because they were preserved with formalin. This necessitated the disposal of these products. However, my fellow countrymen and women decided that these government agencies were foolish in their actions and went on to dig the condemned goods a day after they were buried, why?

One of the locals was reported as saying that the poultry products were only seized and destroyed because they were contraband, that even the customs officials diverted one trailer load for themselves! I think this might be the major reason behind their action because anything short of that is sheer insanity. But even if that were the case, why go dig them up?

The first thing that came to my mind was that these folks are extremely poor therefore saw free nourishment and went for it. (Who knows the last time they ate chicken, poisonous or healthy) Yet I wonder the kind of hunger and starvation that would make a parent to endanger the lives of his/her household in this manner. But reasoning it further, no wealthy man or woman would dare take that kind of risk, at least not for their own personal consumption.
However, above the issue of poverty is insanity, for this act is sheer stupidity of the highest order. This is a direct consequence of illiteracy. No educated or enlightened individual will go dig up those products, even if they were sure that it was not poisonous, which they were not.

Yet, I know that there are still poor and illiterate members of that community who value their lives and did not partake in this suicide mission. So that brings the issue of greediness to bear because some did not only consume it themselves, but also sold it at cheaper rates to others. There might even be some that did not consume it themselves but sold it out to other suspecting and unsuspecting members of the society.

This foolhardy action makes me wonder how bad things have really gone in Nigeria. First, why would custom dig a shallow grave near people’s dwelling to dispose of such harmful products? Methinks it would have saved all of us some stress if they had burnt them before disposing, and in a suitable place.

Poverty and illiteracy are brought up yet again; they seem to permeate every sphere of our lives. The government and other well to do individuals have continued to fail in addressing the double issues of poverty and education thereby making things worse than ever before. As someone said of the government on this issue in one social media, ‘Na only to recover loot una sabi, what of poverty alleviation?’

But my people, let us not use the excuse of poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and many others to lose our consciences and begin to act like wild animals. What if those poultry products were deadly?

At the rate things are going in this country, I fear to think on what the future holds for us and the coming generations.