(By Iheanyi Ezinwo)-The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, was set up to respond to emergencies across Nigeria. However, over time, the agency has been conducting its affairs as if it’s mandate is limited to certain parts of Nigeria, excluding Rivers State, the treasure base of the nation.
Over the years, Rivers State had recorded unprecedented flood and other forms of disaster including cult killings and other unlawful attacks but nothing has been seen nor heard about NEMA’s assistance, though its South south office was in Port Harcourt.
The tradition had been for Officials of NEMA to look the other way while the state government contends with emergent disasters until the situation is brought under control. From whatever prism you look at it, this consistent indifference of NEMA to the plight of disaster victims in Rivers State is not only discriminatory and unfortunate, it is clearly unlawful. The Rivers State House of Assembly and other stakeholders in the state have challenged the injustice. Questions have been asked and petitions written but the disposition of NEMA to the plight of Rivers people have remained negative while the common wealth is used to respond to similar challenges in other states of the federation.
A report by News Agency of Nigeria said that just last Sunday, the National Emergency Management Agency donated 300 bags of beans, 100 bags of rice, 100 bags of sorghum and 100 bags of millet, as well as 150 sets of women clothes, 120 sets of children wears and 50 sets of men clothes and other provisions, to families of those who lost their lives in an attack in Birane Village in Zurmi Local Government Area of Zamfara State, North West Nigeria.
Making the presentations on behalf of the Director General of NEMA, Coordinator of NEMA’s office in Sokoto, Malam Sulaiman Muhammad, said the items were provided by the Federal Government to assist those who suffered losses because of an attack in Birane Village which claimed over 30 people on February 15.
NAN further reports Mallam Mohammed as saying that the NEMA had also submitted its reports on a similar attack in Bawar-Daji Village in Anka local government area of the state, and that “Any time from now, we are expecting similar assistance for them from the Federal Government”.
While the people of Rivers State do not begrudge Zamfara and other states who have been enjoying the assistance of the Federal Government in this and other regards, it is important that President Muhammadu Buhari sees the entire Nigeria as his constituency and not a part thereof.
A situation where the Federal Government deliberately denies lawful assistance to a state  for political or any other unconstitutional reasons is a clear betrayal of the trust of the people of Rivers State that there interests as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution, as amended, will be protected at all times by those who have the sacred duty to do so at the centre.
If the Federal Government is so neck deep in hate actions, one wonders the basis for anyone to complain of hate speeches by people who are responding to discriminatory actions of government against the citizens whose only offense is belonging to a different political party, religious sect or tribe.
The Federal Government, by these acts of discrimination has demonstrated clearly that it is concerned about the welfare of some Nigerians over and above that of others, contrary to the president’s oath of office and allegiance.
While it does appear that some persons have come to see discriminatory practices as a way of life, it is important they understand that discrimination is neighbour to hatred, and no nation can enjoy sustainable development when the citizens are pulling in opposite directions.
If we must go beyond lip service in the campaign for peace, unity and progress in Nigeria, then those who want to dominate must realize, according to Cardinal Conway that, “Every one must play his part. Obstacles which stand on the way of justice must be removed: Obstacles such as civil inequity, social and political discrimination, and misunderstanding between individuals and groups. There must be a mutual and abiding respect for others; for their persons, their rights and their lawful aspirations”.
So much has been said but Nigerians want the words of their  leaders to be backed with corresponding action. It is only then that those who claim to be for everybody can enjoy the confidence of the citizens.

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