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Ebola and a country that never prepares for anything by AZUKA ONWUKA

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Azuka Onwuka

When the Igbo came up with the proverb, “A
scheduled war does not claim the life of the
cripple”, they did not take Nigeria into
cognisance. That proverb does not apply to us,
because since I was born, we have never had a
habit of preparing for anything, no matter the
amount of fore-warning we were given. That is
why we have an Ebola virus epidemic staring
us in the face. As another Igbo saying goes, we
are a people that never start looking for a
shelter from the rain until we are fully soaked.
That is the way we are. And it is very sad.
The World Cup takes place every four years,
but we are usually not ready. It is either we are
not sure of who to hire as a coach or we are
not sure of the players to use. If those are not
the issues, then the match bonuses of the
players or their jerseys are. Track suits had
been cut with a pair of scissors to get shorts for
the Super Eagles at the National Stadium,
Surulere, Lagos. The picture of Rashidi Yekini
and his teammates coming into the field in
poorly cut tracksuits some years back is still
etched in my mind.
The Olympics take place every four years, but
we never get ready. A month to the Olympics,
there will still be talks about money not being
released yet for preparations. We are used to
that.
For years, the Niger Delta people complained of
the devastation of their communities by oil
exploration. The leader of that struggle, Mr.
Ken Saro-Wiwa, with some of his lieutenants,
was hanged on November 10, 1995. It seemed
as if the matter had been killed. Less than a
decade later, an armed struggle erupted in the
Niger Delta, which affected the economy of
Nigeria drastically. In 2009, President Umaru
Yar’Adua promised to develop the region if the
insurgents handed in their weapons. It worked.
It was a project that should have been started
at most in the 1970s when the oil exploration
made Nigeria so rich that the leadership of the
nation acknowledged that its problem was not
money but what to do with it.
Furthermore, how did we get into terrorism?
Religion-based terrorism peaked in 2001 with
the Al-Qaeda bombed the World Trade Centre
in the United States on September 11. In
Somalia, Al-Shabaab has been on a
destabilising mission, while not giving the
neighbouring country, Kenya, any respite.
In spite of all these, we assumed that such
terrorism would not come into our country.
Even when it did, we thought it was a joke.
Within five years, over 5,000 had been killed,
hundreds kidnapped, millions rendered
homeless and property worth billions of naira
destroyed. Our nation has been tarred with the
terrorism brush. While this is facing us, we
have suddenly realised that our security forces
are not well-equipped to fight such terrorism
and that we need $1bn loan to equip our
military.
Looking at another sector, one would see the
same attitude in action. When the Nigerian
Meteorological Agency forecast that there would
be heavy rain and flooding in 2012, those in
authorities and the followers paid little
attention to that forecast. Then, by July of
2012, the rains came in torrents. We saw whole
villages and towns submerged. It was shocking
to us because we had never witnessed such
flooding before. That made us to wake up.
Now, any time NIMET warns, we listen and take
action. States started opening drainage
channels. They began to send out warnings to
citizens about rainfall and flooding.
Any time a disaster is foretold, the attitude of
the average Nigerian is to say: “It’s not my
portion”; “I reject it in read full story on  Punch.

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