Sometimes we all get a real craving for something. Not a normal craving. A real craving. The kind of craving that overrides all logic and makes you do something ridiculously indulgent and needlessly over the top just so you can get your hands on exactly what you want. Since it’s safe to assume that almost everyone has at some point succumbed to this sort of temptation, it makes it slightly easier to justify just how daft this feeling can be. Spending £20 on your favourite takeaway doesn’t feel like such an excess. However, even with this context, there are limits to what should be socially and morally acceptable.
This brings us to an extraordinary, slightly disgusting and yet undeniably incredible story from Nigeria. In the capital, Lagos, the senate find themselves embroiled in a struggle against foreign imports, which the government claims are undercutting local businesses. The situation, some claim, is disastrous for native food producers. However, it is incredibly difficult for an outsider to grasp exactly how bizarre the situation has become. Thankfully, Agriculture Minister “Uncle” Audu Ogbeh was on hand with a cutting and inadvertently hilarious anecdote.
According to Ogbeh, a cabal of super wealthy Nigerian elites are satisfying their cravings in a very specific and ludicrously exorbitant manner by ordering their favourite pizzas directly from London. The situation gets worse. As the minister went on to explain, these pizzas are then being flown over from the British capital on by British Airways - the nation’s most celebrated airline. It’s a habit that certainly puts your £20 Domino’s order into perspective.
In an extensive and wide ranging rant on the Nigerian senate floor, Minister Ogbeh outlined exactly why he felt this practise was out of order. Addressing the chair of a senate committee, Ogbeh spat, "Do you know, sir, that there are Nigerians who use their cellphones to import pizza from London? [They] buy in London, they bring it on British Airways in the morning to pick up at the airport. It is a very annoying situation and we have to move a lot faster in cutting down some of these things."
Ogbeh’s ire was mainly directed towards those who seem interested in maintaining Nigeria’s status as “a nation of importers”. “Toothpick every year costs us 18 million dollars; tomato paste costs us 400 million dollars,” he castigated, adding that, “a basket of tomatoes is less than N2,000.” According to Ogbeh, “The farmers are losing money because the processors do not have enough funds to set up factories. Two factories have started off. I am sure by the end of next year we can comfortably tell the importers of tomato paste to stop.”
The situation in Nigeria may well be dire indeed to prompt an outburst such as this. However, if Ogbeh knows anything about cravings, it may well be that complaining to a senate committee smacks of pissing in the wind. It strikes me that anyone who can afford to employ BA as their own private pizza courier isn’t going to be busy quibbling over the price of local tomatoes. When the heart wants what it wants, there’s not a lot that can get in the way.