The TSA might be sticklers about liquids, but they’re pretty lenient when it comes to food. Since you’re allowed to take a live lobster on a plane, you might assume most foods are fair game, but presumably because enough people have asked, the agency’s FAQ includes a specific entry for pizza anyway. Pizzas, you should know, are allowed in checked bags and carry-ons, as long as you’re willing to deal with the jealous glances of seat mates eating their sad bags of pretzels.
According to Nigeria’s minister of agriculture, some Nigerians are taking advantage of those flight allowances by seeking out foreign pizza—and delivering it to Nigeria by plane. “Do you know, sir, there are Nigerians who use their cellphones to import pizza from London?” Audu Ogbeh, said last week during a senate committee meeting on agriculture. “Buy in London, they bring it on British Airways in the morning to pick up at the airport.”
To Ogbeh, the “very annoying” pizza situation fits into a larger problem of Nigeria’s reliance on imports. As reported by Nigeria’s The Cable, Ogbeh alleged that tomato paste imports alone cost the country $400 million over one year, despite the fact that “a basket of tomatoes is less than N2,000.” Farmers, he said, are losing money since funds aren’t being put towards processing factories, and he called on the government to intervene more quickly.
Ogbeh’s claims haven’t been proven: according to Business Insider, he didn’t name names, or offer any other insights into how the alleged pizza delivery process work. But if they’re true, it highlights what some Twitter users have called the “antics of the idle rich.” After all, Nigeria already has pizza—and international pizza, at that: Domino’s has almost four dozen stores throughout the country, and Pizza Hut announced three locations late last year.
As the Daily Mail wrote, Ogbeh claimed that imported foods signify class and status to the country’s rich. Despite the country’s large economy, money is largely undistributed; Oxfam considers its income inequality “extreme.” Over 112 million people live in poverty—yet, as the Guardian wrote in 2017, the country’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, allegedly earns 8,000 times more in a single day than a poor person might spend in an entire year.
For the country’s richest people, it’s possible that the ubiquity of global pizza chains has made them less of a status marker and therefore less desirable. Getting pizzas from farther locations—like the seven hour flight between London and Lagos—might just be one big, weird flex.