Responding to national emergencies
What is the measure of importance we place on the lives of our fellow human beings? Do we view those in need as nuisance, or do we see the face of God in them, drawing us nigh to give a helping hand? These questions have become imperative, considering the rather shoddy manner we respond to the plights of our fellow-men in this part of the world. In particular, one is saddened with the rather lackadaisical manner in which the relevant government agencies approached the recent flooding that engulfed large parts of Benue State. The flooding, which was believed to have been caused by blocked drainages, saw hundreds of residential buildings submerged, while over 100,000 residents were displaced.
Incidentally, while Makurdi was being pummeled by rain, parts of United States, specifically Houston Texas, was not spared by the elements as a result of Tropical Storm Harvey, which sent devastating floods pouring into the nation’s fourth-largest city. As monitored by the media, rising water chased thousands of people to rooftops or higher ground and overwhelmed rescuers, who could not keep up with the constant calls for help.
However, the point of interest here is the unprecedented coverage and swift response of the US emergency team to help alleviate the sufferings of the flood victims, as compared to the poor coverage of the Makurdi flooding. Indeed, all attention virtually shifted to US, while our own people were virtually at the mercy of the elements. It took wild outrage on the social media before our own emergency team could wake up from its slumber. And as usual, poor funding, lack of motivation and gross inefficiency was order of the day. In the case of Houston, the whole of America and its leadership literary rose up in one accord to provide relief for victims. Photos of gallant military personnel assisting men, women and children in despair went viral, telling the whole world that the life of every single American matters.
One appreciates the various individuals and groups that have since risen to the occasion, by providing temporal relief to our brothers and sisters in distress. It would be welcomed if those who have not done anything to assist, should endeavour to do something to alleviate the sufferings of the people, no matter how small. Tomorrow could be your turn. Beyond this, there is need for our leaders to be more responsive to the plights of disaster victims. We truly need to overhaul our disaster management and emergency response team to make them more efficient and at par with internationally acceptable standard.
• Very Rev. Msgr. Osu, Director, Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos.
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