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Helping Haiti, Hurting Jos

HAITI is getting global attention for reasons other than the more known issues of poverty and poor governance in the tiny Caribbean island the world regales in neglecting its challenges. Some of these challenges are historical, like cruel French colonialists that entrenched the poverty of the island in the ways they skewed the economy.

Other complications are in the composition of Haitian population that has seeped into its politics, the unhealthy rivalries and governments that drag the people into more poverty through policies that create irrelevance for Haiti’s 10 million people.

The devastating earthquake that reduced Port au Prince, the Haitian capital to rubbles, and claimed lives listed at about 200,000, succeeded in drawing attention to the poverty of this island tucked among wealthier neighbours. The world’s rich use islands in Haiti as holiday resorts, cruising in and out in their luxury boats, in the same manner the rich everywhere think little of the poor.

Nigerians have weighed into the global appeals for Haiti. From the Federal Government to States like Lagos, there are efforts to muster support for the victims of the earthquake, some, on whose inability to carry on with life, all again emphasise the extent of poverty in Haiti.

We hope all the money being raised in the name of Haiti gets to the people. Some organisations never known for any acts of charity are already advertising concerns for Haiti and asking the public to donate to the cause. The security agencies should look into the matter to prevent the public being fleeced of funds under the guise of helping Haiti.

Another area of worry about these involvements in foreign charity is what we do with matters that are right next door. After the riot in Jos, thousands of Nigerians displaced spent weeks in the open, under the brutal cold of Jos, without food, medication or even security. Those who lost their loved ones or property would not get any compensation.

Some gave birth in the open, awaiting medical attention that was in short supply, worse still without any indication that help was on the way. Where then were the humanitarian organisations that populate the Nigerian landscape?

With the exception of a few organisations, most of these Nigerians and their organisations that are falling over themselves to help Haiti watched as Nigerians suffered in Jos. Nigerians may hold their different positions on the riot in Jos, but there was a human disaster to it, one that never got the type of attention to show that we cared for the human beings involved, including the aged, women, and children who we proudly hold up as the future of this nation.

Nigerians have to learn that charity should appropriately start at home. Our governments’ consistent poor examples in helping Nigerians in distress make mockery of the otherwise commendable assistance to Haiti.


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