For The Sake Of Clarity, It’s Hunger That Pushes A Hungry Man To Protest, Not A Labour Activist Or An Opposing Politician

By Isaac Asabor
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According to an African proverb, a caring mother whose children are hungry does not stay long in the kitchen. Rather, she expedite action to ensure that the food is ready to calm her hungry children’s nerves. In fact, it is expedient to admit that the meaning of the epigram was for the umpteenth time pragmatically interpreted by my mother of blessed memory whenever she was about to pound yams; she would serve us with some slices of the cooked yams before pounding the remaining ones in the pot.

Without a doubt, the foregoing anecdote which revolves around the act of caring and provision of palliatives ostensibly to calm frayed nerves. After all, it is said that “A hungry man is an angry man”.

Explicably enough, it may not be out of place to conjecture that my late mum’s predilection to serving us with slices of cooked yams that were meant for pounding was her own way of extending palliative to her children, before serving the main meal.

Against the foregoing backdrop, it was shocking to hear President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Thursday, February 29, 2024 expressed his disappointment at the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), accusing them of indirect involvement in the Nigerian politics.

He said a situation where Labour Unions would instigate the people to protest just nine months into his administration was totally unacceptable, warning both groups that they were not the only voice to be heard.

In fact, the president was not the first person to allege that Nigerians are been instigated to protest or agitate against his government. For instance, the All Progressives Congress (APC) penultimate Tuesday accused opposition parties of instigating mass protests across some major cities in the country to undermine the administration of President Bola Tinubu. This was as protesters, including women and youths blocked major roads in Minna, the Niger State capital to register their displeasure over the rising cost of living.

The protesters said the rising cost of food items and poor government efforts to arrest the situation forced them to block major roads so that the government would hear their cry.

A day after the Niger protest and a similar one in Kano State, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka said the demonstrations were the manifestation of this ‘devious’ and ‘unpatriotic plot.’

To this writer, it is crystal clear that Nigeria’s political leaders do not understand the psychology of hunger like my late mother understood. If they do, they would have come to grips with what the saying, “A Hungry Man is an Angry Man” means.

Against the backdrop of the foregoing view, it is expedient to explain for the benefit of such political leaders that the saying "A hungry man is an angry man" indicates that people can get easily irritated or upset when hungry. In fact, hunger can affect a person's mood and make him or her more prone to feeling annoyed or even angry. When someone's basic needs, like food, are not met, they are more likely to have a short temper or become agitated.

At this juncture, it is expedient to admit that the foregoing view is set to clarify the fact that hunger can lead to irritability or anger, and that no labour activist or politician can instigate a hungry man to protest against the government as widely believe by virtually every Nigerian affiliated to the APC, being the ruling party. Without a doubt, the saying that “A hungry man is an angry man” is a reminder that not meeting basic needs like food and other basic needs can affect people’s emotions, and even incite them to protest.

One may not blame the government, which is invariably composed of affiliates of the ruling party for alleging that people are been sponsored to protest, but the truth remains that hunger is a very strong motivation to protest, and that demands that the government should put in more efforts to fulfil its electoral promises to the people.

Another reason for not resorting to blaming the government is that for most people, hearing criticism is not a pleasant experience. Criticism does not always make the one been criticized feel good. After all, it highlights his or her faults. However, criticism can convict such person and lead him or her to change, and strive to meet the people’s expectations.

So, the government need not have to fear or dread criticism or rather protest, but it can choose to embrace it and learn from it.

To this writer, the ongoing administration of President Tinubu needs to strive for good governance. It needs to progress in terms of the five core principles of good governance that cut across transparency, accountability, participation, anti-corruption efforts, and the rule of law. And while the foregoing virtues of governance been strive towards, key political players in the ongoing government should always have it at the back of their minds that “A hungry man is an angry man”.

At this juncture, it is expedient to explain that the essence of expressing this view is to inform our political leaders that a hungry man does not need a labour activist or an opposing politician to instigate him or her to protest against the government as hunger is spurring enough. After all, John F. Kennedy of blessed memory said, “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich”.

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