Corn or maize is a staple food crop in Nigeria for decades. Nutritionally, it is a carbohydrate, however, it does more! If you have been very keen in Nigeria’s political campaign landscape, you would have discovered that this grain has assumed an amazing political value and potency.
The value is not just in the corn itself; it is in the way and manner that it is eaten. Not just that, it also depends on the personality who is involved in the eating and the location of the eating.
When we were kids, we were taught that eating in the street is not good table manners. However, what we see today is different-those who taught us to eat from the dining table, now eat on the streets. They brazenly engage in it in full glare of the public and cameras, even in the most dramatic way.
Hardly will any election campaign season pass that you will not find a politician and his/her associates in the street munching roasted or boiled corn straight from the cob. Not that they do not have dining tables in their homes or offices, not even that they are hungry, not that these politicians eat corn in the street for their nutritional benefits, not that they eat it because they want to encourage local corn farmers or patronize the street corn-hawker, their intentions are far, very far from that.
In fact, prior to these corn-eating incidences, they have never been known to be eating corn from the cob in the streets. Politicians, irrespective of party affiliation are involved in this corn-eating spree. They have mastered the art of chewing corn like the street people. They do it with a certain level of dexterity, and to the admiration of those in the streets who they try to woo. The more they munch, the more they draw applause from the jubilant public.
They do it just to gain street-credibility and strike emotional connection with their targets. They only eat corn during political campaigns to ‘identify with the ordinary people’ who as well, eat corn in the street. Most of the time, they succeed, as the naive electorates who gives them the bulk of their votes, describe them as “humble” or “man of the people.”
The truth is that the politicians are not genuine corn-eaters. They do not care about the taste or nutritional value of the corn. While the corn is in mouth, their heart is not in the corn. No doubt, politicians are dangerous psychologists. They understand the psychology of the ordinary man in the street and exploit it to their political advantage.
The art of eating corn in the public is merely a psychological tool to get the interest and attention of not just those who sell the corn, but also those who farm the corn, and fellow corn-eaters in the streets.
The politicians go to any length to make the ordinary men on the street feel that the politicians identify with them. The masses are made to feel that the politicians are close to them. All the corn-eating exercises that we have seen in recent times are mere political gimmicks to get votes.
In most cases, when these politicians “eat their way” to power or political offices, they become unreachable to the street people. They will no longer eat corn from the cob and or even in the streets like you and I. Corn-eating is a pre-election activity, and not a post-election activity.
A politician told me that “even if corn is out of season during campaigns, they will eat mango or any other plant that is common in the streets.”
In as much as corn-eating is not harmful to the body or the economy, however, if these politicians will do more of corn-planting than corn-eating, it will contribute more to food security and reduce poverty and unemployment.