ECONOMIC SLAVERY: BREAKING THE RULE OF LAW

by

It is clear that what drives capitalism is the ‘commodification’ of not only goods but also services and people, talents and ideas in the name of trade. The vulture will always go to where the carcasses are; such is the story of British American Tobacco Company (BAT). With firm actions taken by Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the World bank to curb the growth and consumption of tobacco (due to increasing health hazards worldwide) merged with ban on Tobacco advertisement in the Western world, cigarette manufacturers like BAT has relocated their manufacturing industries to Africa because of cheap labour and weak rules of regulation.

For instance, in Nigeria, the western region is regarded as the food basket of the nation  for more than a century, but the arrival of the foreign Tobacco companies like BAT changed the established ways of life, governing of the commons, cultural, social and ethical conditions of the people of western region of Nigeria. The incentive brought by the tobacco companies made many farmers  to divert their environmental resources to  the planting of Tobacco. Tobacco  growing offers new life style to the farmers, it displaced planting of traditional staple food by offering farmers some money (loan) with seed of tobacco to plant. The immediate money offered (as a bait) to the farmers cannot sustain them in taking care of their family, because they have to go and buy food from someone else, pay school fees of their children among many other family responsibilities. As a result, many of these farmers  ended up in debt

Many farmers become modern day slaves to the company because they were unable to repay the loan from the tobacco company. The farmers now experience long hours of stoop labour, harassment, abject poverty, staggering debt, exposure to nicotine and pesticide as well as poor health. The action of the companies have  disrupted  the  social, economical and environmental life of the farming communities. While the tobacco companies generate million of dollars in profit and conceal  the actual amount from the public, this benefit worsens the economic condition of the community and jeopardize the harmony of natural environment.

In July 2008, BBC conducted an investigation against the activities of BAT in Africa and came out with a documentary titled ‘Bannatyne Takes on Tobacco’ and exposed that the tobacco multinational was breaking rules in Nigeria, Malawi and Mauritius.

In 2009, there was a rumour that cigarette manufactures in Africa were involved in illicit activities in West African region. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)investigated the rumour and published a report entitled ‘ Transnational Trafficking and the Rule of Law in West Africa: A Threat Assessment where they exposed that about cigarettes worth more than US $774 million were smuggled into Africa.

Upon all the money BAT is making either legally or illegally, they are very inconsiderate in the wealth distribution that suppose to be extended to the farmers who have lost their traditional ways of life that made they to be happy and proud in their communities. The new advent of tobacco business which is uncustomary to them put them in debts and shame.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: