By Kate Henshaw
My heart goes out to those whose homes, villages and businesses have been ravaged by flood. It is being viewed as an act of God but knowing the Nigeria that we live in, I would not blame God for this terrible mishap.
We tend to always leave things till the last minute, don’t we? A stitch in time saves nine, but we are not moved by that phrase.
There are quite a few groups agitating for relief materials to be sent to the people in these affected areas. Ministers have done a big show of riding in canoes to the ravaged areas to commiserate with the victims but it will end there!
Reports have indicated that relief materials are being stock piled and access to one of the camps requires a 5-day waiting time after application! Speaking to a staff in one of the humanitarian organisations who volunteered to go to one of the government managed camps with their own relief materials; he said the gates were locked to people who needed shelter.
On gaining access, he found relief materials in abundance, stockpiled but those who needed it the most, were told to apply and come back after 5 days.
Where were they supposed to go seeing that their homes had been submerged? They decided not to drop their materials but drove further away to another camp being managed by a priest and a teacher which did not have anything and dropped off the materials there. No doubt someone in the government camp will go into the sale of foodstuffs at the end of it all.
Our hearts seem to have been repositioned from the front to the back, rendering us impervious to the plight of those in need of help.
The Federal Government has released money to aid the flooded communities but I can bet that only a quarter of the amount will be used for what it is actually meant for because sooner or later we will begin to hear stories of misappropriation of the funds, inability of those affected to get relief and of course, a committee will be set up to investigate these claims and the people will be left in the cold, worse than where they began!
No thought is spared for the lives lost, be it man, woman or child; the illnesses that will arise in these communities and in the people as a result of less than below average sanitary conditions they are exposed to.
Just a few people in positions of authority who instead of serving the people are bent on feeding fat off any situation irrespective of the deprivation of their own people.
The reversal however is the case with our counterparts in the United States. We can see the sheer devastation that has happened in the Eastern seaboards of the country because it is receiving full coverage and we can articulate the magnitude of Hurricane Sandy.
In New York, New Jersey, there are gas (petrol) shortages and the queues are endless but I must say here that we experience that regularly without a super storm being attributed as the cause; car pool rules have been put in place to enable people move around and authorities deliver food and other relief materials to the people!
A friend who had travelled to Boston could not travel back home to Nigeria as all flights were cancelled but they were informed at every stage what precautionary measures to take.
When they arrived back at their hotel, they were given flashlights just in case the power went out and they needed to move around!
That is planning for any eventuality. Can we not borrow a leaf from that? Why does everything have to be so hard and so disorganised when it comes to us in this country? So much motion yet so little movement in the right direction! Yet, those voted in to lead us right give themselves a pat on the back for doing what is expected of them in the first place.
They celebrate every minute succour they give the people, expect garlands on their neck and confetti thrown at them.
One day we all will be called to give an account of our time on earth, irrespective of religious inclinations. There is so much one can amass for themselves. If it does not change the life of the needy, give them hope for tomorrow, it means absolutely nothing and when we shuffle off this earth, we have no control over who will take over this ill-gotten wealth. There are numerous examples which abound of governors, ministers, bank MDs who cannot move around freely in other countries apart from Nigeria because of their gluttony. A good name they say is far better than riches and when we fail to plan, we inevitably plan to fail.