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Troubling stones in the noodles of technology



FOR most of last week Obollo Afor and Okpella were on my mind. The more I look at the soaring cost of products and services in the broadcast and telecommunications industries, the more enamoured I was with these two towns in Enugu and Edo states respectively.

That could provide some really good fun on a road trip when life used to be good and people could have some bit of fun on the road thinking of the next stop to have some welcoming native delicacy and hospitality.


Each time we headed towards Obollo Afor on any of my several trips to this beautiful gateway town in Udenu Local Government Area of the state, my mind was on the bottles of groundnuts and very attractive bananas displayed by the roadside. It was always very nostalgic to haggle with the natives and get the best deal, but all the time just savouring the joy and peace they seem to carry on their heads.

The same with Okpella in Edo North where they have some of the best groundnuts in the country. One nut fills your mouth, leaving a lasting taste. Before the road became messed up and bandits took ownership of whatever was left of it, Okpella was one of the most important trading points on the road, where one could literally fill a vehicle with assorted foodstuff – groundnuts, plantains, and even banana and snails. Giving somebody a bottle of groundnut from Okpella in Abuja or in my town somewhere in Edo State could be more pleasing than a bottle of good wine.


The same feeling I got some years ago after having a ride around the Maiduguri metropolis one night and stopping at some point to buy apples that made my dinner that night. I looked at the joy of the locals and really never had the urge to return to Abuja but for family and the daily grind to eke out a living. Pray, where is the concourse between Obollo Afor, Okpella and Maiduguri, and telecommunications and broadcasting?

I am only trying to look at the very little things of life to throw some light on price and cost movements in some other elite sectors we consider indispensable.


A bottle of groundnuts is selling for N1000 in some places, so the excitement of a road trip to that part of the East and Edo State has diminished naturally. That part of Maiduguri that was like a dreamland is no more accessible as bandits and other infernal beings have quartered the environment for their suzerainty.

The journey of a bottle of groundnuts from N350 in Okpella or Obollo Afor to N1000 has so much to say about the price increase in DSTV subscription or even the threats by telecom operators to increase rates if the cost of diesel and other ancillary costs for service delivery is not modulated to accommodate reality. What has been impossible for us to admit or properly acknowledge and then begin to seek ways to ameliorate things, is the crushing impact of a failing system that has pushed more people to rummage the garbage beings for daily survival.


Yet we would wish that things remain the same and that prices of goods and services are as fixed as the hardback of a tortoise irrespective of the fickleness of the Naira and the obtuse discombobulation in the entire ecosystem. So, instead of getting down to do their job, some lawmakers at the National Assembly would whine one day that broadcasting is a social service; why should one pay so much for DSTV when NTA, AIT, Channels and TVC, among others, are free? In a deregulated sector, where investors have ploughed in a lot of investments, some guys would go to court to seek the intervention of the judiciary in putting on ice a business decision influenced by the vagaries of a market that has increasingly become a puzzle to experts and professionals.


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