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December 18, 2012 | Feature Article

Dwindling humanitarian services in Nigeria

There can be no gainsaying the fact that the primary responsibility of every government is to provide the needs of its people in terms of food, shelter and health. On no condition, therefore, should a citizen be denied of these life essentialities.

But as complementary efforts to that of government, many humanitarian non-government organizations (NGOs) abound. Some of these NGOs are backed financially by philanthropists while others indirectly depend on governments.

In connection to somewhat humanitarian works, government set up agencies like National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to respond to emergency cases of Nigerians as well National Orientation Agency (NOA) not only to seek integration of the citizenry but also to identify needs of the underprivileged and bring them to the tables of the responsible authorities. Also most well-established business outfits often set up humanitarian units that seek to carter for the underprivileged of the society when any of such is brought to it.

Many cases have raised the question on how effective and genuinely humanitarian governments in Nigeria are, not to talk of the NGOs. I have watched in the African Independent Television (AIT) and heard some radio programmes such as Hembelembe and that aired on Wazobia FM very sad stories of Nigerians who need humanitarian supports to sustain their life. Such sad stories are often repeated severally before the humanitarian support come. In some cases, the poor victims who are really so by their own making but by the societal circumstances, die outrightly or by installment without rescue from government or humanitarian NGOs.

Methink, as the primary objectives of such NGOs are to respond to the plight of the underprivileged when it is brought to them or to go round such places as hospitals, schools, recreational centres or even markets in search of people who genuinely need humanitarian services, the number of death and pains of Nigerians from natural occurrences would have reduced.

Pathetic cases that should rout the minds of any philanthropic patriot or NGO are many. A man was said to have died in a hospital because of N5,000. Another gave up the ghost while in an effort to rescue the wife who could not go to deliver in a hospital. These could be very quick cases that may not be noticed. But there are cases when the victims yield for help to no avail.

An instance is two year-old child who was half burnt by a wild fire from adulterated kerosene on 22nd June, 2012 at the Eneka axis of Port Harcourt metropolis, the Rivers State capital. This innocent child, Emmanuel Ubong was said to have left his sister's house to his anty's and was with her for two weeks till the ugly incident occurred.

The child was hospitalized in Meridian Hospital, No. 21 Igbokwe Street, D/Line, Port Harcourt where he was rescued under intensive care, accumulating a bill of over N2,000.000 (two million naira). Gospel Cyril Effiong, with telephone no. 08038852344, 08179824924, being the child's only hope in Port Harcourt tells a tale of woe.

According to her, as at 15th October she had cried out for help through letters to the Governors and wives of Rivers and Akwa Ibom states, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in Rivers State, African Independent Television (AIT) and Silver Bird but to no avail. What is life for if a life cannot be saved!

While the survival of the little boy has been abandoned to Effiong - a very low-income earner and hustler - can a private hospital discharge a patient who has been rescued after over six months of treatment? This is a food for thought for humanitarian organizations and philanthropists.

Muhammad Ajah is a writer, author, advocate of good governance and humanity E-mail: [email protected] yahoo.co. uk

Muhammad Ajah
Muhammad Ajah

The author has authored 271 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author's column: MuhammadAjah

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Muhammad Ajah and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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