Monday, January 18, 2010

By now, most people are aware of the horrible earthquake that happened in Haiti on January 12th. It registered as the strongest earthquake on that island nation in 200 years and the death toll will likely be very high. Many individuals around the world have contributed in one way or another, as have large organizations and countries to the recovery effort, trying to rescue and assist as many as possible. Currently, the African governments of Gabon, Ghana, Benin, Liberia Morocco, Rwanda and South Africa have pledged/donated money ranging from $50,000 to $1 million. Senegal's government has gone a step further of offering free land parcels and/or accommodation to Haitians who opt to repatriate and settle there. As more African countries will undoubtedly join in the global chorus to assist the Haitian people, the Nigerian government must use this opportunity to show kindness to Haiti.

Source: NECN

Today, Nigeria is unfortunately known for its corrupt government, international organizations like Siemens which have gone down for bribing Nigerian officials, online scammers and most recently Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's suicide bomb attempt. However, Nigeria also has a historical reputation for using its weight to assist fellow Africans and those of African-heritage that might be in need. Nigeria once helped out Guyana's civil service to make its payroll. Nigeria contributed a gift via Ike Nwachukwu to Howard University - a prestigious, predominantly black institution in Washington, DC. Nigeria even committed $1 million in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster that destroyed New Orleans. Nigeria has consistently and continuously committed military assistance to war torn parts of the continent from Sierra Leone to Darfur. Nigeria housed many Liberians who sought refuge during that nation's civil war. And, Nigeria played an integral part in gaining autonomy for black Zimbabweans and South Africans, whose ANC party received donations from Nigerian workers for many years in an effort to get that country to where it is today. Furthermore, Nigeria's Technical Assistance Corps has been and continues to be a means by which the nation sends medical staff to the diaspora such as the Commonwealth of Dominica. Nigeria has and continues to have a long history of interceding when necessary to help those in the African diaspora.

Nigeria is burdened with the confusion of a sick and absent president, a Vice President incapable of taking executive actions but relegated to hosting winners of reality shows and legislators that continue to say that their "hands are tied" on various sensitive matters. And, currently, many continue to question whether the President is actually alive or dead. Clearly, Nigeria and its people are at a point of bewildering political disorder. Nigeria's President Yar'Adua is also the chairman of the West African organization - ECOWAS, which is also yet to respond to the devastation in Haiti.

Nevertheless, there is still time for the Nigerian government to illustrate the leadership Nigeria has previously shown and help Haiti. So, while Nigeria's government is yet to issue an official response and/or commit either financial or human assistance, given its previous leadership on issues concerning the Diaspora, one hopes that a response is forthcoming.

It is no secret that Nigeria's influence and impact within the West African region has diminished over the last few years. While the previous administration was able to diplomatically squash a military coup in neighboring Sao Tome & Principe, the current administration experienced a compromising embarrassment with regard to the military junta in Guinea. President Yar'Adua's envoy, former military dictator Ibrahim Babangida, was sent to convey that the coup was unacceptable, but returned with nothing but praises for the Guinean military junta. And, now, with the placement of Nigeria on a list of "Terror Prone" countries, it seems that Nigeria's government and in fact the nation's relevance and power, despite its oil and historical influence is being challenged.

Although assisting Haiti would be a humanitarian effort, it would display a seriousness by the current administration to keeping in line with Nigeria's grand history of acting in the interest of the Diaspora. Haitians are the descendants of Africans (most likely Nigerians) sold into slavery, as such their lineage links to the continent and specifically to Nigeria and other West African countries. It is only natural for Nigeria to act charitably towards Haitians. Furthermore, caring for others and assisting them is an attribute ingrained in Nigerian culture, regardless of tribe - the Nigerian government should be able to take advantage of that cultural aspect and send some form of assistance to the people of Haiti quickly. There are presently Nigerian police officers in Haiti, as part of a UN peacekeeping effort and they thankfully all survived the earthquake.

Many will read this and immediately note that the Nigerian government is yet to do right by its own people considering the fact that many Nigerians live on less than $2 a day,the failure to achieve a promise of higher power generation rates and much more. While all that might be true, being charitable is not for the very rich alone, as evidenced by the many in Nigeria and around the world who sacrifice what little they have for others. Besides, Nigerians have always been able to do incredible things with little. If nothing more, the Nigerian government should consider that assisting Haiti would go a long way in rebuilding Nigeria's image especially given the fallout from Abdulmutallab's suicide bomb attempt. And, considering that Nigeria is allegedly pursuing rebranding its image, such an act would provide exponential benefits. But, most importantly, such an act, no matter how small, would be helpful to Haiti - an act that will likely never be forgotten. Let it not be forgotten that Haiti defeated the French and became the first black nation to achieve independence. And, in this year, when Nigeria will celebrate 50 years of independence, such generosity and leadership could be an essential part of setting the tone for the next 50 years for Nigerians and the Nigerian government - helping a nation that shed blood to set the path of independence for all Africans everywhere.

Regardless of where you are from, please take the time to say a prayer for Haiti. Survivors are still being found but that nation has experienced a devastating catastrophe that requires assistance, as well. So, if you are in a position to give money, please do so by contacting a reputable organization. Or, you can donate food, clothing and other items at the Haitian embassy where you live (if one is available). Also, you can click on the Bloggers Unite image for more information.

UPDATE: There are Nigerian organizations at home and abroad that are making it easier for Nigerians and others to support relief efforts in Haiti. The Nigeria Global Diaspora Committee is not affiliated with the Nigerian government and is apparently legitimate. It is actually among a list of many groups doing what they can to make a difference. Hattip to Omotade at Tade's Joint.
UPDATE (01/20): Lagos State, in conjunction with Nigerian Eagle, are working to raise funds for the Haitian relief effort. Lagos State government has donated $1 million on behalf of the citizens of that State.
UPDATE (01/21): The Nigerian Senate observed a minute of silence in respect for all Haitians who lost their lives in the earthquake. Nigeria's government donated $1 million to the Haitian effort with each of the antion's 36 Senators giving an additional $20,000.

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Anonymous said...

I agree. I completely agree.

t said...

Re: Yar'Adua's current state
Could Yar'Adua be Schrodinger's cat? (Quantum Mechanics reference)
PS I love Yar'Adua just felt like being a prof today.

Anonymous said...

Well said...people need to read this...

- A.I. from Facebook

CodLiverOil said...

Your posts are good, thank you.

I think Nigeria should assist Haiti, for the following reason:
Haitians are people who are presently in an hour of deep need. If Nigeria can muster the energy to do something ie unconditional and genuine act, why not?

Not because of
1) Haitians are blacks (obviously they are), therefore Nigeria should help them.

If that was the case America should withdraw (immediately), and China and Israel shouldn't even bother sending teams there. Are the majority of Haitians descendants of China or Israel? No they are not, but yet they sent teams there.

2) Other reasons like re-branding, using it as a means of asserting influence, salvaging a almost dead image.Then they shouldn't bother, that would be a waste of time and would be insincere. That can only be salvaged by decisive action taken on the home front.

3) To avoid embarrassment because other African countries are responding and Nigeria would be seen as uncaring.

My view is that:
1) Significant assistance, rendered in and modest and unassuming manner is more willingly received than help surrounded by fanfare.

The bottom line is, if someone is in need and you are moved and are able to help them, then do so.

All this talk of oil. One would think Nigeria is the only country in the world to have oil. Which is clearly not the case. People should sober up and realise, Nigeria is not the force it likes think of itself as (at least not today), but instead be humble and work to put Nigeria in a category that befits it. Just like what the Chinese have done for China.
For more info on why Nigeria should face it's current reality, see:

N.I.M.M.O said...

I have had Haiti on my mind since the quake and have even sent SOS to friends in the US to send $10 on my behalf to the Red Cross and so far have done about $40.

However, it seemed most Nigerians here think we have enough problems and natural disasters of our own e.g. Yar'Adua which to all intents and purposes may be of the magnitude of an earthquake.

What of Jos? Another asked. What have we done about the Nigerians displaced and killed there?

Besides, said another, Haiti is directly within America's sphere of influence and very far from Nigeria. America has not said it needs anybody's help.

How many countries on America's Terror prone list have offered help?

Anonymous said...

It's such a coincidence that right when our nation is undergoing international downcasts and national struggles, that's when humanitarian opportunities such as the earthquake arises. I don't mean to sound as if Nigeria should "take advantage" of it for its own good...but it's simply a matter of "give and it shall be given unto you". Nigeria's help to Haiti will significantly impact both Haiti and Nigeria.

Thanks for the reference. I absolutely love this article and I definitely will share it around. :)

Mrs Sweetwater said...

very well put. I expect nigeria will jump on the bandwagon, eventually. much like jamaica one of Haitis' closest caribbean island neighbors. they need money, technology and prayers, asap.

Azazel said...

Solomon u make good points, but we honestly have natural disasters of our own in our country but nobody donates to it in our country as Nimmo pointed out..
What about all the disaplaced people in Jos, etc..
This whole charity thing stinks to me, I have donated to Haiti but I still feel bad not donating to my own people

Oluniyi David Ajao said...

Nigeria needs help, rather!

Nairobian Perspective said...


Beauty said...

I am sorry, but I still do not understand why Nigeria must join the effort in Haiti. In a flash, the US was in (rumors of oil find is currently circulating), getting the work done with the marines and others. Nigeria does not appear to have a president in control, (nor anything else under control as more clashes in Jos with loss of life has demonstrated). You need to wear your oxygen mask before helping anyone (for those who still fly), else, it over for you too.

Anonymous said...

Nigeria needs not help anyone but itself right now!! We have a lot of relief-aiding to give to the Naija people!!! lets help ourselfs before we help others and stop this wanna-be-western-humanitarian-crap!! Reading from these blogs its sad to see people supporting this kind of article!

SMH** when are we going to have leaders who care about us!!!! judging from all the comments by young nigerians who are supposed to be the leaders of tomorrow, OUR FUTURE IS BLEAK!!!


Tasha Salazar said...

The condition of people in Haiti is very bad. Let's unite and do some good for Humanity.

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