- -Blank NEWS Online (NIGERIA) –By Austen AKHAGBEME:
It was the renown Canadian scholar, Naomi Klein who first drew the world’s attention to the concept of Disaster Capitalism in her book,THE SHOCK DOCTRINE, where she scholarly observed and narrated the underbelly of evil pervading the world of Disaster management and state cum individual profiteering motives, initiatives and misadventures.
In her treatise, she exhumed the political manoeuvres by some profiteering interest group to hoodwink the State of Louisiana over hurricane Katrina that swept away and destroy New Orleans city. Instead of rehabilitating the ruined city to favour the less privileged, it became an economic opportunity for the Disaster Capitalists(the contractors) to achieve a privately beneficial ambition.
Fast track to Nigeria; the threatening scourge of the Pandemic and the fear that accompanied it led to the Federal government, Private Sector and Public spirited individuals donating huge funds to help in assisting the people while fighting the pandemic.
No sooner did the funds came than the people started shouting for the Federal government to put a transparent and workable structure in place for disbursement and accountability.
Because of the fast pace things were moving coupled with the negative press flying in from every corner of the globe, such cry by the people didn’t gather any dust. The story was that every corporate and individual donation will be kept in custody of the apex bank. This was okay by all.
As the heat of the novel lockdown takes its toll from the people, the government without a comprehensive and detailed plan, rushed to distribute food items and cash to the people in their homes. Not only was the activity not well coordinated from the beginning, the food package being dished out was inadequate and vexatious. Videos were rife on the internet depicting government officials distributing as small as two loaves of bread etc to more than three households of not less than twelve people. Ridiculous!
In places where cash was distributed, the same hue and cry ensued. But the alarming aspect that burst their bubble was the careless declaration that within a week and few days, they have given out cash to the tune of Billions of Naira without the names of the beneficiaries and their geographical spread, adequately captured and accounted for. This drew the irk of the Legislators and led to pertinent questions being asked today about such ‘herculean feat’.
Naomi Klein described Disaster Capitalism as the practice of making profits from a crisis situation to the detriment of the intended target. It is simulating situations to create panics and calls for help and later turn around to be the executioner and beneficiary of such created circumstances .
It is against this backdrop that we should vehemently berate these new crops of “Disaster Capitalists” and prevent them from mismanaging, misappropriating or stealing whatever palliative given to them for the people. The Boko Haram unending war, the emergency millionaires it helped to create and the plight of the IDPs is still indelibly a yawning puzzle, looking for an answer in our hearts.
- Austen AKHAGBEME is a Columnist with Blank NEWS Online