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Isn’t Nigeria, a Natural Disaster?

By Arnold Alalibo, Port-Harcourt, Nigeria – Feb. 2, 2011 – The recent volcanic eruption in Iceland elicited many positive comments by Nigerians about the geographical location of Nigeria. Many Nigerians praised God for situating the country in a natural disaster free zone. Yes, we are lucky. Aren’t we? While other countries suffer from natural disasters, we are not. But the truth is that Nigeria itself is as a natural disaster.

Has any Nigerian really sat down to think about this? Has this fact ever crossed the mind of any Nigerian? It is really a shame. Since the inception of this country, particularly from independence, we have been fighting and killing ourselves. Religious and ethnic-related crises remain perpetually high. Corruption, bad leadership, fake drugs, bad roads, poor medicare and many others have become the order of the day. And of recent, we have heard about bomb  blasts in the Niger Delta area of the country, which make those that happen in Iraq and Afghanistan a child’s play.

Now let’s go through few statistics to buttress the fact that this country is a disaster itself. The Nigerian Civil War was fought some 43 years ago and it claimed several millions of lives. In 2001, over 1,000 persons were said to have been killed in an ethno-religious crisies. In 2004, 500 people were allegedly killed in Jos which led to a declaration of a state of emergency in Plateau State by President Olusegun Obasanjo. In 2008, a dispute over council election in Jos North claimed over 700 lives, and on January 17, 2010, over 350 persons were killed in a violence over a disputed plot of land. And, of course, the recent Dogo Na Hawa crisis near Jos, claimed several lives especially those of women and children.

The list is endless. Tell me, is there any natural disaster that is worse than these?

I have not talked about innocent Nigerians who die from daily administration of fake drugs and other products in the country. What about those who die from crime – related incidents? One does not have to be a soothsayer to know that many more Nigerians die daily as a result of the harsh economic condition in the country. What shall I say then. I am often moved to tears whenever I see beaufiful brain with good qualifications rot away as a result of joblessness.

Also, Nigeria has lost respectable men and women in road accidents. The casualties recorded in road mishaps in the country are not something to write about as it devastates like an earthquake. Ninety per cent of accidents in the country are as a result of the bad condition of our roads. These bad roads do not only affect the lives of innocent Nigerians, businesses are affected as well. This is an indication that government at all levels have failed, because good roads and the provision of basic infrastructure are a basic components of good governance.

Malaria is another nut which effect has proved to be worse than natural disasters. This ailment constitutes about 60 percent of diseases in Nigeria. It is also responsible for 30 per cent childhood deaths, 25 per cent deaths of children under one year and 11 per cent maternal deaths. The financial loss accruing from malaria annually is estimated at N132 billion by way of treatment costs, prevention, loss of man hours etc. Yet, the disease is treatable and eradicable.

There are lots of activities to combat malaria in Nigeria, but gaps still exist. Most countries have fought and conquered malaria but we find it difficult to subdue it because certain persons are gaining from it. Several programmes have been drawn up to eradicate the disease to no avail.

 Yesterday it was something  else, Today, it is “Operation Roll Back Malaria”. Tomorrow it may be “Malaria Must Go”. But in all of these, malaria has refused to go. The reason is that some corrupt minds are simply profiting from it.

Nigerians are suffering today because corruption has made it hard to run government transparently. Projects that ought to better the lives of the people are never initiated or at best abandoned which in turn affects the lives of the people. Something needs to be done urgently. With these who will say that Nigeria is not a natural disaster.

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