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Nigeria’s President Jonathan, where are you while Ibadan withers?

by Tola Adenle

I could have missed Jonathan’s visit to Ibadan on the nightly tv news reports of Jonathan condoling Oyo State, especially Ibadan city or, at the least, having Reuben Abati issue his sadness at the rage of nature on the city as it was reported from morning – all day – on radio yesterday but I do not watch [Nigerian} television news; I do read several newspapers, thanks to the web. I have not come across a single report of the president condoling or having officials dispatched to Ibadan for on-site assessment, prior to flying in with words of comfort and promise of “federal” aid.

With the kind of near-Biblical proportion rainfall that brought deaths to hundreds – a “mere” hundred has been reported, anyway – the president of Nigeria should have called to service one of the array of airplanes and helicopters at his service to see first hand the devastation as soon as reports reached him and he confirmed the details.

No, Ibadan is NOT in Northern Nigeria that would have seen the president not only scurrying to see the catastrophe first hand but billions of Naira in aid would already be on the way.

As a Reverend gentleman who sent me the SMS yesterday early morning wondered after visiting some of his parishioners, “Iru ilu wo l’a wa yi?”  [What kind of country is this?]

For gory pictures of the story, please buy today’s TRIBUNE, a paper I’d given up the idea of ever purchasing because of its blatantly pro-PDP and anti-people stand these last several years.

A hundred people?  Accurate figures are never easy to come by in these parts but even that figure dwarfs the UN building bomb blast deaths of 18 that the same president was quick to condemn – as he rightly should but, hei, Dr. Jonathan, Ile l’a ti nko eso r’ode ,something like “charity begins at home”.

With scores dead and perhaps billions  in lost properties, where do we begin to show how little regard rulers of this country have for its citizens?  How can one express bewilderment about people who should be able to empathize with others because just about all of them came up via the so-called school of hard knocks?

This morning – I avoided going out yesterday because reports of traffic logjam through undamaged roads – I actually saw just a bit of  the disaster zones.

Some years ago, the body of water off Parliament Road that was covered with water hyacinth and was cleared with a – naturally – World Bank loan has had the weeds grwn back and by last year, you did not know there was a huge mass of water under the lovely greenry-facade unless you live around Ibadan.  Well, this morning before 7.00 a.m. the beauty of the water – with most of the hyacinth gone – first caught my eye before the idea of something wrong registered in my mind.  There, on the wash side of the water were humongous piles of hyacinth and other water weeds which the powerful force of the moving water had thrown OVER AND ABOVE the tarred road to the other side!

Up the road at the intersection of the Cultural Center and the Premier Hotel Road, underground water with apparently unbelievable force had pushed up the tarred road and chewed up – don’t have another word for what I saw –  what should be about a 100 square-foot portion of the road.

Shops along Mokola Road have huge deposits of the debris from Mother Nature’s wrath.

An artisan whom I reported as unable to go home since Friday told me by phone that his roof was the “only” thing off, “thank God” because he said eight Poly students were among those dead in their Apete area.

In the precinct of the Government House are many damaged building fences and properties.  In one, both the husband and wife were away and with those at home unable to see the gate should be opened, water quickly backed up and before you could say, God save us, water had filled the vehicles in the premises and had backed up into the garage destroying millions in properties.  By the time we visited, the water had receded and the premises looked like a construction site with mud cake all over.  A whole back fence wall had crumbled in addition.

On that street, there were multiple scenes of disaster while a little walk down to a side street is a house with lovely gardens in front and back.  Water had cascaded inside the house.

At least, bad as the situation within walking distance of the Government House is, these unfortunate people can afford to lick their wounds, source money from every-which-way and move on with their lives.  Not so in most of the devastated areas.  There are families wiped out – no, not their properties, but family members all dead.

This IS a natural disaster, agreed, but what kind of country would allow this kind of  happening without government officials led by the country’s president,  agencies, etcetera, coming forward?

Where are Oyo State elected and appointed officials at state and “federal” levels who ALL are quick to start “philanthropic” exercises when seeking offices?  Are these not the people on whose bent backs you rode to wherever you may be in this corrupt country?

Nigerians, a long suffering people with terrible leaders, sad country run like a cult.

Dateline:  Ibadan, Sumday, August 28, 2011

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