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There is Only One Major ‘Natural Disaster’ in Nigeria

By: Olumayowa Kushimo
 Published December 28th, 2010

Despite our great incertitude of the dramatic events emanating from the national polity, we have painstakingly followed the trend of occurrences that has unfolded within the last twelve months, yes a dozen months! Some have experienced relatively excruciating pains in the form of eye twitches, back, waist and wrist pains and other associated physical discomforts arising from continuous and prolonged periods of staying awake late into the night to keep abreast of these national issues, which have almost made these vibrant citizens impossibly become both diurnal and nocturnal beings. Hardly do they remain cyber-inactive, they share their views, opinions, commentaries and suggestions with other progressive minded Nigerians. Many have also vented their frustrations and anger by showcasing their bespoke sense of humour when discussing these national issues. Their blackberries, ipads, iphones, laptops, desktops and other various gadgets have become their ‘beloved baby’. At this juncture, it is highly worthy to say a special Merci beacoup to the Time’s Person of the Year 2010, Mr Mark Zuckerberg for making this possible, at least through the virtual world arena.

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It is common knowledge that these Nigerians have also witnessed many heavyweight encounters and a few featherweight stories within the last 52 weeks. It is also not uncommon to hear people’s opinion that these featherweight stories were sometimes purportedly orchestrated to function as a distraction, cleverly discharged by the heavyweights at such times to soften the tempo of the people’s vibrant reactions to their ridiculous spending and misappropriation of funds, lack of clarity, purpose and direction in their style of governance and leadership. Have you ever noticed that, at a point when you are infuriated about issues such as the then proposed N17billion earmarked for the Nigeria at 50 independence jamboree, then before you finish a bowl of cereal for breakfast, you hear that the Speaker of the House of Representatives has just had a disgraceful ‘jaw-jaw’ and an averted ‘war-war’ with the Governor of his own very state. Most times, Nigerians often lose track of events as they speedily unfold like a lightning bolt, they are often almost impossible to trail, albeit unresolved. Keeping track of almost every episode within the political domain is nothing but a daunting task. Thank God for ‘Citizen reporting’!

I said dramatic because, you will all agree with me that barely three weeks ago, on the 26th of November 2010 to be precise, we woke up on this day to realise that one of the states of our beloved country has got a new Governor – Rauf Aregbesola. While the whole country was initially bewildered with this news, it almost became a precipitant and catalyst or perhaps served as an impetus towards beginning a familiar debate, about the popular ‘postulated theory’ that Nollywood movies are very predictable. On this occasion, though it was a case of ‘Aregbewood’ on the cinema screen, this directly contrasted the viewers ‘law of predictability’ as it is well known in our Nollywood movies in Nigeria.

The vibrancy and never-say-die attitude shown by these Nigerians has been continuously fuelled and sustained by natural enthusiasm and unparalleled love for their country. Many out of their busy professional and work schedules, family commitments and/or studies often squeeze-in the time to post their insightful views on current social and political issues online, mostly through social networking sites.

Now, have you ever thought about this? This year was the year the Earth struck back. Earthquakes, heat waves, floods, volcanoes, super typhoons, blizzards, landslides and droughts killed at least a quarter of a million people in 2010. According to an insurance provider Swiss Re, 2010 was reported as the deadliest year in more than a generation. More people were killed worldwide by natural disasters this year than have been killed in terrorism attacks in the past 40 years combined. Nearly 260,000 people died in natural disasters in 2010 through November 30, compared with 15,000 in 2009. Also the WHO reported that, the last year in which natural disasters were this deadly was 1983 because of an Ethiopian drought and famine. Lest we forget, it is also not surprising that, while the Haitian earthquake, Russian heat wave and Pakistani flooding were the biggest killers, deadly quakes also struck Chile, Turkey, China and Indonesia in one of the most active seismic years in decades. The WHO also reported that, flooding alone this year killed more than 6,300 people in 59 nations through to September. Inundated countries include China, Italy, India, Colombia and Chad. Super Typhoon Megi with winds of more than 320 kph devastated the Philippines and parts of China. Even the ‘almighty’ United States is not excluded, we all know of the hurricane Katrina and other hurricane this and that, the tornadoes, the floods, the wildfires and so on.

It is clearly evident from the statistics and reports of these cataclysmic events, that Nigeria was not a subject participant or victim in anyway whatsoever during the process of collecting and presenting these data. Don’t be surprised when you hear our fellow Nigerians mention that Nigeria is very blessed, that America is not the only “God’s own country”. Indeed, they have every right to say so, infact they are absolutely spot on this! I can also emphatically say that Nigeria is really and truly blessed. There are more than enough reasons to accept these assertions of a blessed nation. But hang on a minute, before you accept this hook, line and sinker, there is Only One ‘Natural Disaster’ that continues to serve an equivalent and combined devastating functions of earthquakes, heat waves, floods, volcanoes, super tycoons, blizzards, landslides, droughts and so on in Nigeria. This ‘Natural Disaster’ is extremely endemic to our beloved country. It has been painfully packaged as nothing else but in the form of Bad Leadership and Governance!

There is no doubt that 2011 will even be more dramatic, we all know why. Let us wait and see the outcomes Professor Attahiru Jega’s N87,721,961,531 (eighty seven billion, seven hundred and twenty one million, nine hundred and sixty one thousand, five hundred and thirty one naira) INEC budget for the elections. But excuse me please, could you shine your eyes well on the above figure, it is N87billion and not N87million!

But the most pressing issues affecting a Nigerian earning below $1 per day (a larger percentage don’t even earn anything at all), still remains in its state of inertia i.e. the status quo remains unchanged. Even within the Eko O’ni Baje arena, people still live on 3 hours of electricity a day, while in many other areas the story is nothing to write home about. Many lives were lost during the doctor’s strike, infant and maternal mortality rates increased during this period, potable water remains a luxury, the country’s educational system is in a shambolic state, yet N72m was spent in independence jamboree cake! The issue of zoning or no zoning continues to preoccupy the frontal lobes of the brains of our politicians. Is zoning a national interest or otherwise?

The last time I was in Nigeria, I was onboard an airline ready to fly, the next thing we heard was an announcement by the Pilot that our flight has got to be delayed because there is an “important government official arriving at the airport soon”. We were all furious and very angry, and wondered who the so called important person was. After a while, the pilot politely announced again and he said “Further information hasn’t reached me yet, I am also disappointed with the current situation, but I have to obey the orders from the control room”. We finally flew after been delayed for about 55 minutes. How ridiculous and appalling that was!

In Nigeria today, there is Only One Major ‘Natural Disaster’.


Olumayowa Kushimo

Clinical Behavioural Specialist Psychologist

National Health Service (NHS)

London, UK

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