When I first heard the acronym OYO, I was still in primary school. This piece is not meant to disparage any personality but to x-ray the reasons I always refer to Nigeria as a natural disaster unto itself. It is to bring to our notice our lackadaisical attitude towards one another in times of crisis. Over the weekend, I was inundated with calls from Markurdi, the Benue State capital city about the response to their plight by the government, Federal or State, the National Emergency Management Agency [NEMA], Private Companies and individuals, Political Leaders and even Charity Organizations.
The flood which sacked over 15,000 people from their houses ought to have elicited so much haste from all stakeholders in places where people value lives and ae empathic. But that is not Nigeria where there is so much politicisation about everything. While the people suffer from neglect and lack of interest, the blame game never ends.
Some persons believed that celebrating Sallah while the people of Benue were under water as well as their kaya, was insensitive on the part of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He simply went to Daura to celebrate and have fun. It is the belief of those who hold this opinion that such was callous of the president and his team.
Another school of thought, I call them the Minimus school, believe that the president needn’t be there since he had lieutenants who should do anything for him. Let the old man enjoy himself and the others do their work.
And so while all these arguments are going on the people of Makurdi suffer under water. Someone challenged me on social media that NEIMET warned the people to leave there before the flood. My question is why we are such a half-hearted people. Before you tell people to vacate a place, what is the contingency plan to evacuate them? Those people are farmers, and Fulani herdsmen menacing the farmers would make life unbearable in the hinterland. There lies the problem. You cannot just hand down a warning and think you have done anything special. Anyone can warn people. While we are trying to call government agents to order, we are still asking people to stop becoming their own demons.
People build on canals, sewage e.t.c. and then expect things to remain the same. But again that is what you get in a land where government has little or no interest in how the people live their lives. Every year we hear of plans by the government to build thousands of houses and let the people have it. Politicians make plans and build houses for the people on the pages of newspapers and yet floods sweep the people away every year.
Before some government apologists swoop on me, I heard the NEMA boss asked the people of the people of Benue to count themselves lucky that he left his Sallah break to visit them. So why blame the president? Is this the kind of information we would be hearing in a country which lays claim to some of the largest churches and the largest mosques?
This is trying to address two principal issues, one of which is our lack of empathy. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar donated N5milion naira to the flood victims, and some Nigerians thought he has not done much while others think he is trying to campaign for 2019. All the same I did not hear from David Mark, Akume, Ayu, the loud Tsav and other big names. Or are they too waiting for the flood to happen in Atiku’s home to campaign? If other well meaning Nigerians donated N5 million of their money to the victims and the money was channeled to the right people, they would be better for it.
Let us change our disposition towards mishaps, mend our battered sense of concern, try to be more human in dealing with the misfortune of others and have the fear of God in our hearts. Let us take a cue from the Americans.