Thursday, January 15, 2009

Nigerians in distress

NIGERIANS are in distress. Buffeted by hunger, poverty,illiteracy and diseases for years, they have entered the terminal consequences of decades of neglect by governments that profess to serve the people. Now, they have to cope with the global financial crisis.
Most recently, strange illnesses that defy their resources have joined the siege against the Nigerian. Malnourishment, one of the excruciating effects of poverty, has pushed the Nigerian to food sources that cannot protect his body. He is at the mercy of all types of illnesses.

The evidences abound. From those who die in the rural areas where deaths are still attributed to the anger of gods that demand unattainable sacrifices to the strange ailments that some people display on the streets of Lagos, while soliciting assistance, it is clear that Nigerians are grinding out their last phase of meaningful existence. Some with cancers are on the streets asking for money to treat themselves. Where would they get the money? Children, some still suckling, are down with illnesses that defy their parents.

Among the factors held responsible for these illnesses are poor diets, foreign foods that do not pass proper inspection, junk foods that are gaining acceptance in the urban areas, environmental pollution, especially in the oil-producing areas and from industrial estates located without considering their closeness to residential areas.

Governments have done little to assess the plight of Nigerians. Assistance is impossible without knowing them and their predicaments. Some have kidney, heart, or liver failures. Others have ailments that cannot be diagnosed. Help mostly comes from private organisations and individuals, in trickles.

The pathetic sights on the streets of Lagos of women exposing cancer ravaged breasts or men displaying elephantiasis blighted scrotum to gain sympathy of passers-by are indications of people who have declined from hopefulness to sheer desperation. They have lost a big chunk of their humanness.

It is dehumanising to behold these sights. It is worse to imagine how long these people agonised in silence before conquering the shame to display diseases in their most private parts, hoping they can elicit public sympathy.

Where can Nigerians in need get help? What really is the essence of governments, if after all these years, hardly anything is done to improve the welfare of Nigerians? How do governments intend to tackle these national fixtures all over the country?

The helplessness of the Nigerian is obvious. The rich, with all the resources available to them, cannot get good medical services in Nigeria. How the poor survive leaves little to the imagination.

What makes this an emergency is these deaths cast debilitating effects on the survivors. In the absence of medical insurance, whole families pool their resources into rescuing one of their own, who invariably dies, leaving debts that trap the living in further despondency.

The global economic crisis is not good reason to neglect Nigerians. Governments must find the will to fight these concerns beyond words. They can, if they want