Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Haiti, 2 Million Persons Still Homeless 10 Months After Earthquake!

Haiti, 2 Million Persons Still Homeless 10 Months After Earthquake!
Written by Paul I. Adujie

Searing images have been burned into our collective memories from the earthquake calamities and catastrophes which befell Haiti on January 12, 2010. Ten months has since passed, the passage of time has not reduced the grief and desperation on ground in Haiti.

Only recently, 5 persons in the many tent camps Haiti were killed by rainstorms, rainstorms which also rendered 210 tents useless. Thankfully and luckily, the hurricane season this year has been less severe and this has meant some sorts of respite for the already beleaguered nation and people of Haiti.

The television cameras are long gone and public sympathy has elapsed. Complacency have seemingly set in. The plights and predicaments of our people worldwide is exemplified by the current precarious limbo in which, and to which Haitians have been seemingly consigned. The human condition of our people remain, are best described by recent public statements by former American Secretary of State Colin Powell, a retired US Army General, when he stated that “So many rocks in our sack, and so, we have trouble carrying it”

Haiti, in the earthquake aftermath, is a toxic mix of poverty, adversities, calamities, catastrophes, tragedies which is multiplied by a factor 2 million people. Two million people who are currently homeless and remain in direst of straits. These two million Haitians are part of the approximately 2 billion continental Africans and peoples of African descent on earth, whose plights and predicaments are not much different. Man made disasters and Acts of God tragedies conspire and combine to make our lives toughest than any other groups people in the world. Our people remain beset by too many challenges piled on, exacerbated by newer ones.

Where are the loud and ostentatious pledges and promises of relief and reconstructions or where is divine interventions from the heavens? How does anyone reassure 2 million Haitians who are homeless for almost a whole year now? This, even after the world made a great show on television, insisting to frazzled Haitians that help was on the way? Great expectations are now forlorn? What is it about geopolitics and or human psyche in which Foreign Aid is not steered to where the need is greatest? Where is Bill Clinton?

Haiti, though a poor nation, she does have a population of the most courageous people on the face of the earth! Haitians have faced and confronted sundry adversities and have always tethered through, weathering the storms, almost with equanimity. It is important to make this point and mention the tenacity of the people of Haiti, even in the midst of the most severe earthquake in human memory. Haitians, despite the extraordinary toll in terms of human lives lost, are managing to carry on, as close to a semblance of normalcy as possible.

It is sadly the case that tents wearing thin from wear and tear , rain, sun and other natural from the elements. Haitian people have become understandably weary. This was illustrated recently by The New York Times feature article, in which so many Haitians were crying out for help in letters to the entire world which described the very pathetic and abject human conditions which persist in Haiti, over ten months since the earthquake in January.

Planners had hoped by now that 130,000 tent dwellers would have been resettled, but so far, after almost a whole year since the earthquake, only 10% resettlement have been achieved .The fragile and flimsy temporary accommodations are disintegrating. Tarpaulin tents are fraying under the elements, formerly white tents now grey, and torn, exposing two million inhabitants to more sufferings and hardships

There is still no water, no electricity available to all regularly and on steady, or reliable basis, there are continuing concerns for disease outbreaks of epidemic proportions, such as cholera and other diseases which are exacerbated by unsanitary conditions. The congested tents camps environment in which Haitians displaced by the earthquake now live, is said to be suffused and reek with raw sewage and rain water flowing in the camp being a common sight

It is really sad that 2 million Haitian are still homeless more than 10 months after earthquake which killed 230,ooo people. It is so disconcerting that our microwave culture with short attention span, have forgotten or at least, have allowed the plights and predicaments of Haitians, victims of the worst earthquake, are abandoned and their abject conditions have receded to the back burner and recesses of our consciousness.
We spend two trillion dollars tangling with real and imagined enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq, and yet, we do not have the will and courage to provide basic human needs to the two million persons still homeless in the aftermath of the disastrous earthquake in Haiti?

It will be recalled that in the aftermath of the cataclysmic earthquake in January, there were almost a sense of eagerness by and between nations to openly compete and be seen as the largest donor and the best helper of the hapless people and nation of Haiti, but, almost a year has passed and only three nations, namely, Sweden, Norway and Brazil, have followed through and keep their promised and delivered on the monies pledged to Haiti relief and reconstruction efforts.

Almost a year after the earthquake almost unhinged Haiti and thrust upon her, extreme and extraordinarily dire circumstances, transitional shelters remains how two million Haitians live and, these transitional housing are even grossly inadequate, unavailable, while the existing ones are deteriorating and are now in tattered conditions.

The reconstructions which were much heralded, has not come to be or come to pass. Land ownership uncertainties remains a major problem, an obstacle and impediment to redevelopment. AID organizations have publicly stated that they wont put structures on land without knowing or ascertaining title holders

The presence of debris and rubbles from the earthquake is still pervasive and predominant in the landscape of earthquake ravaged areas of Haiti.

More than ten months after of the January 12, 2010 earthquake and 2 million Haitians still live on the streets in full public view, subject to the elements, heat, the rains, mudslides and hurricanes.

2 million Haitians are still subject to disease outbreaks such as cholera, dysentery and diseases from poor living conditions, poor sanitation and impure drinking source.

During the blitzkrieg in the aftermath of the earthquake in January, more than sixty nations promised money and material aid in excess of five billion dollars, but, six more later, only Brazil, Norway and Sweden has fulfilled and redeemed their pledges; but why is this the case? But where are the nations who made loud promises and thereby deceived all of us, while giving Haitians false hope, and now, disappointment?

It will be recalled that in the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake on January 12 in Haiti, there were what appeared at the time, as quite extraordinary volumes of pledges and promises of financial and material support for the beleaguered people and nation of Haiti. There was what most thought and saw as an unprecedented outpouring of support. Where is everybody? Where is the press and media coverage? There were 24 hours and seven days a week coverage by journalists everywhere, soon after January 12.

That was then! But ten months after the cataclysmic earthquake and the deaths of more than 230,000 persons in Haiti, and the simultaneous displacements of millions of others in Haiti, the loud promises and pledges have not been fulfilled. It is certainly the case that more than 65 nations pledge what at the time appeared to a record amount of money, but, it is sadly now the case that only a microcosm among those nations have kept their promises and on camera pledges. As at this writing, only Brazil, Sweden and Norway have fulfilled their national pledges to the people and nation of Haiti.

The romance has worn off, the television cameras have moved away from Haiti and pledges are unfulfilled. My favorite journalists at CNN, the socially responsible Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta aired a prescient, profound and yet heart wrenching on the ground report from Haiti, reports which clearly indicates that the situation in Haiti has deteriorated since the departure of the klieg lights which were beamed on Haiti 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake disaster on January 12, 2010. Journalists across the world need to be asking questions again.

There is a need to keep the focus on Haiti, just so we all ensure that promises and pledges which were made, supposedly in good faith, are redeemed and there is accountability and transparency on the part of donors and recipients alike. It is too often the case, that donors make loud announcements without following through, and too often, the local populations are misled into believing that the billions of dollars promised were in actuality delivered, except that such gargantuan monies were mismanaged, misused or looted by local authorities through corruption

It will be quite nice to hold donors to account, audit them, just as we would demand auditing the recipient to ensure that reasonable expectations on the part of recipient nation and prospective beneficiaries are not misled. It is the case that social disenchantment and upheaval often arises from this sorts of expectation versus. It is such a shame that there remain this huge gap between very public ostentatious promises-pledges, and actual fulfillments of these genuine expectations.

We should spare thoughts for Haiti and Haitians. There are unfinished business and there are certainly many matters which have arisen and still arising. We concede there is a global economic downturn, but, that makes lives of Haitians even much worse.

We should spare thoughts for and about Haiti and Haitians, our people, in this great time of relief and reconstruction... the work in rebuilding Haiti, has only just begun in the most meager terms, we should keep the focus and attention on the progress on ground in Haiti. Haiti is the First Black Nation on earth. Haiti started the ball rolling toward political freedom and emancipation for continental Africans and all peoples of African descent...

Haiti and Haitians are still being punished for that singular audacity and temerity? Or what else explains this neglect of the human needs which remain unmet in Haiti? Haitians are a generous and a resilient people... they will not be broken... We should do EVERYTHING through engagement, and participation in the relief, reconstruction and rebuilding of Haiti.. Haiti and Haitians need our support for physical and metaphorical complete recovery. We should all do our part. Keeping Haiti and Haitians in our minds is a part of that.

Saudi Arabia just ordered weapons of war. The Saudi Kingdom is billions of dollars on arms and the government of the United States is facilitating these arms purchases which will lead to obvious arms race. And today, two million Haitians can use 1 percent of these monies for relief, reconstruction and rebuilding and even retrofit Haiti, but instead, they are thinking of food and shelter, basic survival needs which are still absent almost a year later. And the band plays on, monies by squandered worldwide.

We should all do our parts. Keeping Haiti and Haitians in our minds is a part of that. Haitians are not thinking. Haitian victims of abject conditions are left to wallow in squalor, even as they still need the mere basics of human existence; Haitians are thinking of food and shelter, the basic human survival needs, and necessity
The rain season is on, full steam and our people in Haiti are still under flimsy shelters. Ten whole months after the earthquake devastation and what at the time appeared to be an outpouring of supports and donations!

It now obvious why we must keep our attention on what is happening and the eventual outcomes. Would many of the promises and pledges made on camera by the world be kept?

Please help Haitians and Haiti, would you, please?

Consequential Thinking: Thinking Big Versus Thinking Small

Consequential Thinking: Thinking Big Versus Thinking Small
Written by Paul I. Adujie

When the history of the world is written, whether we succeed as a nation, or what becomes Nigeria’s role and place in the world, will be determined by, our preference of the big picture over myopic and parochial worldview, in connection with resolving our national issues, deciphering where our national interests are hinged, upon which positive national outcomes that we seek and should passionately desire, would be attained.

Thinking big and thinking small, have important consequences that impact all of us, and the varied outcomes our lives presents to us all, this is human thinking, that are translated into our actions, behaviors or conducts, and naturally, some consequences are pleasant but at other times, some undesirable results are wrought upon humankind, in our fiendishly complicated world; Thinking big or beyond oneself, while forsaking instant gratification or self-ingratiation of the individual, is most desirable for our progress, this is what enthroning a common-good mantra would do for Nigeria and our developmental advancements.

All past and present human advancements, were, at some points, just mere figments of individual imaginations, these human advancements were just merely wild dreams, which means, all the magnificent castles on earth, the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal, moonlanding and all, were once, just castles in the air, until they were brought forth, and actualized, through the critical thinking and positive determination by person or persons; Conversely, thinking small requires self-absorption or self-flagellation and self-indulgence or some form of individualistic extremism, with all its attendant negative impact on whole communities, societies and countries; I believe Nigerians are currently witnessing a locust-style suffusion by existentialists of the worst types, there are now too many me-first and me-firsters, me me me have become the predominant mantra, as it were. Instead of savoring the wonderfulness of Nigeria, instead of letting Nigeria be our uncontested favorite country on earth!

I make bold to assert, that Nigerians are great thinkers; Our national challenges and even uncountable failures have arisen, not because were are an unthinking lot, evidence abound, of Nigerians’ intellectual robustness and sturdiness, we have excelled, notably and remarkably, in every fields of endeavor, in every professions in both Nigeria and abroad, particularly, at home, where a reading of any policy documents or deal papers, readily reveals, how well-crafted Nigerians policies are, serving as wonderful exemplars of our intellectual prowess, we are only found lacking, however, when it comes to the implementations of these well-crafted policies, as with good laws in the books, that are not enforced or wonderful concept projects, that not executed and implemented to their logical fruition and advantage, Nigerians are by and large, great thinkers, no doubt.

We urgently need to tweak our policy implementations, to become consistent with our well crafted policy formulations, to begin to prevent the usually anguished or undesirable outcomes, that have created cynics out of too many Nigerians, as we have become unbelievably frustrated with exasperations, over past and continued public policy failures; What Nigerians lack presently therefore, are essentially, the desires and fortitude to think beyond self, the passion to think big, and take possession of the entire forest instead of the frequent internecine fights over a few trees that belong to us all, Nigerians must think less of self, we should think more about our communities, our societies our country and the possible effects or consequences that our actions or, behaviors and conducts have on our collective interests, here defined with restraint, as common-good or national interests.

Here is a hypothetical example of some Nigerians' current thought processes, and disastrous consequences produced from the sorts of small thinking mindset, note the actions and the dire consequences that follows; Paul is customs officer, due to his greed, poverty of mind or thinking small etc, he accepts bribes from a gun smuggler, who brings into Nigeria, an automatic pistol handgun, through one of the ports of entry, where Paul is stationed, subsequently, Paul, his father and best friend are killed in a botched robbery or in a politically motivated rampage, killed with the smuggled pistol, allowed into Nigeria, because Paul as a customs officer neglected and refused to enforce the law that prohibits pistol smuggling.

Of course, in real life, it is rare to have such direct connection of cause and effect or actions and repercussions, but this is essentially how consequential thinking works, those who engage in consequential thinking, forbear to take certain actions, because of the high probability of the foreseeable consequences of such actions, anticipating such adverse consequences, informs the big thinker to eschew a form of conduct, a big thinker in this instance would have upheld the laws against the smuggling of pistols, Paul’s inability to uphold the law, refuse the smuggler’s bribe, while confiscating the illegal pistol, caused subsequent havocs, as we shall soon learn, Paul was of course motivated by personal greed and short-term money benefit, that he would accomplish from the bribe, but nemesis caught up with Paul, his family and friends, as the pistol became useful, in teaching a perverse lesson to Paul who abetted its smuggling.

In another hypothesis, let say Paul receives a contract to establish a power station, to facilitate electricity generation, for the enhancement of industrial/commercial and domestic processes, suppose Paul purchases secondhand or refurbished electricity generation equipments, with short or limited lifespan and as a result, growth and development are stifled in industrial/commercial endeavors? And on the domestic front, this will mean no electricity for domestic comforts, such as air conditioners, electric fans and refrigeration etc would not be had, all due to Paul’s small thinking, and as result of his unwillingness to look at the big picture, but imagine if Paul purchased the right equipments, secured the applicable warranties, including technical service agreements that assures follow-up and after-sales service by the manufacturers and or distributors? We will all have and enjoy our money’s worth in service satisfaction.

Suppose, that the ubiquitous Paul, furthermore, enjoyed the receipt of construction contract, and he undertakes to do a shoddy job or leave the construction uncompleted or perhaps, because he is so well connected, Paul brazenly abandons the construction job outright? He has the political leadership on his payroll, literally in his pocket? And so, Nigeria ends with bad roads, roads with gullies and crater sized holes, where will Paul, his family and friends, who he wishes well, drive their cars? Paul has subverted his own interests, his family’s and friends’ interests in plying a well constructed road, commerce is impeded, death and sufferings results from the death traps, that our highways have since become, Paul is effectively Kobo wise and Naira foolish! We are all in this together

On medical supplies and equipments, we are all very familiar and know the facts regarding the consequences of fake medicines as ticking time bombs? So also, are inferior or malfunctioning substandard medical equipments, if a refusal to think big leads Paul to supply fake medicines and bad equipments, it quite likely, that Paul, his family and friends, could become direct victims of the iniquities Paul committed, in supplying fake medicines and bad medical equipments to our hospitals and healthcare facilities, Paul’s fraud plays some roles in giving our countries undesirable labels of denigrations, including certain death for those who become consumers of these fake drugs or receipients of inadequate service from faulty and substandard equipments.

There are a million examples, similar to the patterns outlined above, where individual greed or debauchery, portend dire consequences for our country, as outlined for all to see, the roles, that we have played and some continue to play individually, in our country underdevelopment, regardless of our position as minions or as the all-powerful oga-pata-pata, whether as messengers, clerks, commissioners, ministers, governors or even the president, we elevate or debase, depending on our preferred mantra, do we think big or small, do we prefer instant gratification or deferred benefits for the best interest of all and country? Do we not clearly see the perversities wrought by these corruption and depravities?

Nigerians who usurp their positions of public trust, for their personal benefits, betray themselves and all of us, invariably and inevitably, they betray the common-good of our country; Imagine, what would happen, if all the public policies in Nigeria were faithfully and thoroughly implemented to their logical conclusions and brought to fruition? What would have become of the Ajaokuta steel project that was first conceived over thirty years ago, how about the national identity card project that is more than twenty-five years old, then add the different phases of the Kainji Hydro Electric projects and the fabled manufacturing of a made in Nigeria car? Imagine all the other dead and moribund projects?

Imagine if contracts were executed promptly and completely, otherwise, for any failures, to promptly and completely execute projects, imagine if there is certainty of punishment, imagine if those who inspect project execution or those who supervise and verify completions and compliance, were incorruptible? Further imagine, if there was certitude of punishments of contractors that are found responsible project failures or for poor project execution or implementation, (these were the good sides of Buhari/Idiagbon) punishing errant contractors and project implementors.

Schools and hospitals will be built and equipped and agreements for follow-up maintenance would be scrupulously monitored and terms enforced;

Power plants would have brand-new turbines and generators installed, service agreements without inflated costs or illegal ten percent, to make enforcers look the other way, continued maintenance regimen, would ensure abundant generation and regular electricity supply for all, there will be a welcomed untimely death of the importations of personal electricity generator sets, ridding our society of the associated pollution by noise, the soot and fumes.

This also means that our roads will regain their formerly pristine conditions, just as our Paul, his family and friends, others will be spared from the lethal bullets from an automatic pistol that is smuggled into Nigeria with bribes, and the willing bribe taker customs officer or Police officer at road checkpoints, who are too willing to wave aside our laws, and the lethal dangers an illegal gun clearly present, as inherent in the smuggling of an automatic pistol (clearly not for hunting lions!) but just because a few Naira notes have changed hands as bribes, human heads may be smuggled?

We should not be competing against ourselves, we should not allow our national interests to suffer, we are not in the business of defeating ourselves. We must think big and bigger!

In producing a safe, developed and advanced Nigeria, all Nigerians must act as if we are all quality control expert in factories, in the manufacture of a product called national interests of common-good, and we must show and exert determination, not to allow impure products pass into our quality products, we must rid our production of impurities and poisons, we must maintain our market share or our place in the world, we cannot in good conscience complain, if we allow our personal and transient interests or some distractions, override our collective responsibilities, that ensures that our common interests are guaranteed.

Personal interests must take a back seat, the competition should favor overall national interests, this can be done, only by enthroning consequential thinking on a large/wide scale, without consequential thinking, some people engage in corruption, and needles greed, the accumulation of resources for their personal use, wealth that rightly belong to the public treasury, some Nigerians have reportedly siphon more money than any one person can use in a lifetime, entire lifespan, more than any human being can utilize, even if they have a lifespan, spanning a thousand years!

Without consequential thinking, some Nigerians have accumulated wealth outside Nigeria, and they prefer to continue to needlessly accumulate properties, instead of even investing in Nigeria, this has led some critics to wonder why we seek foreign infusion of investment, when, wealthy Nigerians prefer their money and children in “safe-havens” overseas! The pillaging would stop, when and if, those engaged in it, realize the best interests is served in a developed and advanced Nigeria, instead of stealing Nigeria’s assets and wealth, public resources, for the reinforcement of the growth and advancements of other countries’ economies, just as we sometime hear of wasted, confiscated or abandoned looted assets from Nigeria, stashed overseas, that could have been put to work, in contribution to putting Nigeria in good stead.

On the whole, it must be appreciated, as it is the case, that our actions or inactions and or omissions, complicities with these, (all of the above acts that defeats national interests) have had dramatic negative effects and impact on Nigeria, hence, on all of us, these dire consequences, are much more than what I am sufficiently equipped in eloquence to express, I sincerely wish that I could demonstrate more succinctly, the types of egregious behaviors Paul typified in the hypotheses, these sorts of behaviors ought to be severely punished, but our present society permits the likes of Paul to wangle their ways out of legal troubles or impediments. We must stop undermining our national aspirations!

Paul avoids repercussions for his criminal behaviors and criminal enterprise, he is on the lose to commit other crimes, or to be in complicities, aiding others to sneer at our laws; Nigeria must let the rule of law and due process surpass all other loyalties, allegiances, affiliations and affinities, as Nigeria undertake efforts to ensure the certainty of rewards and punishments for every citizen, and ensuring the certitude of punishment for citizens especcially like Paul in the numerous hypothetical examples above, Nigerians citizens who aid and abet crimes and all others in complicities, that continue to thwart our collective progress and advancement in Nigeria, such wayward citizens deserve to be visited with the fullest extent of our laws, and them some.

It is equally the case, that the far reaching implications of these nefarious activities, as we know them, the sorts that Paul regal in, in the aforementioned examples, all these improprieties, contraindicated here, affects all Nigerians, Paul, his family and friends in real life, would not be the only affected,of course, many more innocent persons, unsuspecting Nigerians, would be affected adversely as well, our communities, society and country are subjected at different levels, to Paul’s anti-social and criminal behavior, from whence comes the radioactive-like fallout of the corruptions infestations,and the debilitating consequences, that have mushroomed in our country.

Thinking big and always preferring our collective interests in positive ways, benefits us individually and all of us as a collective, it is really a win-win proposition, and it is very simple and realistic, just as the benefits are apparent; From my big picture perspective, these are the ways we can move from words to action, steering our country into rebirth and renaissance, and the exact opposite is also true, as have it have been clearly apparent and responsible for our slow march or standing-still, to development and progress.

All Nigerians who are passionate about our homeland, must now resolve henceforth, to think big, to think of the big picture, to think of the common-good that would arise or be achieved, as we become more contemplative and deliberative, in our actions and behaviors that affect Nigeria, so that, every opportunity presented is explored to the fullest by Nigerians in the consequential thinkers’ mode would do, the opposite of the numerous havocs committed by Paul in the above example, but if we persist in behaviors like Paul’s, we cannot continue to wonder why too many things are not the way we want.

Paul clearly subverted his interest and society’s interests at large, in general, and on the long run. We most certainly, must desist from undermining our national purpose.

We must eschew poverty of mind and spirit, and must instead elevate community and national interests to its pride of place and accord it the priority that it deserves, over and above our personal interests, nothing must be pursued in denigration of our common-good, no more parochial, myopic and shortsighted actions, that are sure to produce results that defeats us all; Nigeria’s development, progress and advancements, depends on the re-orientation, the refinements of all Nigerians and in this, we must not fail.