Few weeks had witnessed protests in some major cities in Nigeria, from Lagos, to Delta, to Enugu, spreading to Ondo and then, to Ibadan. When there’s no light, no water, no fuel and no ease of access to money for survival; the people can’t but conclude, its nothing but sheer wickedness and oppression. This is especially as there are no tangible explanations for the scarcity of the Nigerian legal tender.
The protests, which started in Lagos and continued in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital, was a reaction to what had been going on for a while which Nigerians can no longer bear with any longer. You can’t but agree with this writer that, no one in their right senses would suddenly hit the streets, carrying placards and green tree branches chanting; “We want our money”, “Enough is Enough”, and more.
The nationwide outcry borne out of a stifled economic situation has, in a matter of a few days, proven the point that this cashless policy attempt may do more harm than good, to common Nigerians. The scarcity of naira has, no doubt, put many helpless Nigerians through sufferings however, the past few days has also hit on the importance of plants and trees in our lives. Asides mitigating environmental pollution, the roles of trees to our overall well-being cannot be ignored. Many people think that the importance of plants is limited to being a food, a source of oxygen and wood, habitat for wildlife and more, but this is not true at all, the importance of plants beyond this, even from those events.
Trapped in a Marwa (tricycle) while going to see a friend, I watched ‘suffering but not smiling’ protesters in their purest of hearts cutting tree branches, calling out the names of those whom they believe are responsible for their predicament; not paying so much attention the trees, and shrubs on the roadsides that had been left unmanaged for a long time.
It is important to note in fact, plants and trees are not just essential to human existence; they are life itself. Have you ever asked; Where do we get the oxygen we breathe? The food we eat? The medicines to cure our diseases? Shelter we live in? Clothes we wear? Our lives are nothing without the plants and trees. Hence, we as a people should not only protest against economic oppression, but also canvass for the sustainability and conservation of these resources of life – plants, trees, animals and water bodies. No more should agriculture be given a second place; but the main and first focus. It shouldn’t be what we just diversify to.
Protests like recent, often have a clear goal. They’re not just an expression of anger, but a conscious effort to win the government and necessary stakeholders’ attention. But then, what shall we say when some of these protests are being hijacked by some violent, lawless and vicious hoodlums, who often attack property (both public and private individuals). As a victim of some of their nefarious activities during this sensitive period, these desperados often result in blocking roads to steal from unsuspecting passengers and commuters. Hence, why drivers often put a tree branch on their car bonnet, while driving.
But one wonders if these drivers know that trees are necessary to absorb CO2 in an environment, usually emitted by cars especially. A tree, according to researchers, can absorb or convert more CO2 into oxygen if the tree has enough water, age, how the soil conditions are and the vegetation! The older the tree is, the more oxygen will be produced and more CO2 is absorbed. Now should we not pay more attention to afforestation and tree planting?
In an unfortunate case where the protest was hijacked by hoodlums, turning it into a riotous vandalising scene, car owners and bikers, one of the ways to show your solidarity, is to hold a branch. Don’t you see these plants and trees are life-savers! No cap! It is clear that beyond the provision of food, agriculture has a huge impact to play in conflict situations. For instance, to everyone, who had a tree branch, a free passage was given; at least, that was what this writer had experienced.
To cap it all, you would remember in the old Yoruba society, disputes always arise in respect to land and farmlands. When palm fronds are tied on a pole and erected on a landed property, this signifies a stop or a halt. The owner of the land is expected to stop working on the land or farming on it until everything is being settled. Also, when two parties are fighting, if one sends a green branch to the other, it is often believed to be a good sign; for the quarrel or the disagreement to end. And now, in our modern society, we have resulted in carrying tree branches to express our frustrations.
Dear reader, you would agree with me, that, to plant is to live, and to live, is to plant?