"The life of a Nigerian isn’t worth a lot at the moment and, truth be told, hasn’t been worth a lot in a very long time. As you read this, a Nigerian is dying needlessly somewhere, of something utterly preventable" -Chris Ehidero
A few months ago I wrote an article titled ‘Why Nigeria Cannot be Great Anytime Soon (1)‘, I haven’t written the other parts of what was meant to be a series because the pessimism became too much to bear. Somewhere, in a little corner in my heart, I hoped; I hoped that somehow the country of my birth would give me reason to hope athat I would find reasons to love the land of my forbearers again and say PROUDLY NIGERIAN with conviction, again. Alas, I should have known better.
I’m currently in faraway India, eleven hours by flight from Nigeria, but like many Nigerians at home, I am devastated by the
DANA Air plane crash that happened on Sunday 3rd June, 2012. Since that incident, I have hardly stepped out of my hotel room and can’t be bothered to visit the landmarks I had dreamt of for decades. I feel numb, I feel helpless. I have been forcefully reminded again that, as a Nigerian, my life isn’t worth a lot. Oh yeah, planes crash everywhere and accidents do happen, you say, but 16 crashes in 43 years and 1,682 people dead tells a different story. Reading the tons of writings about the Nigerian aviation sector has made me realize that every time I set foot on an aircraft in Nigeria to take a local flight, I am practically attempting suicide. But the aviation sector is a dot on the vast canvass of the worthlessness of a Nigerian life.
On the Saturday before the crash, about 24 cars were involved in an accident on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. Lives were lost. Boko Haram bombings are now almost a daily occurrence, with no solution in sight. Armed robbery has made a resurgence. Kidnappings are so commonplace now that people are beginning to put some money aside so they can have the ransom at hand when the kidnapping roulette stops at their door. A friend’s father was beaten to death a few days after the crash somewhere in eastern Nigeria; he had gone to the bank a day before. If reports are to be believed, about 42% of Nigerian children are malnourished and one Nigerian woman dies in childbirth every ten minutes. Our health sector makes the headlines for demands and strikes, not discoveries or strategies for development. Meanwhile, Nigerians continue to die in alarming numbers of the simplest of ailments, conditions considered conquered in other climes. All of this in a country where a president took an oath to protect the lives and properties of the citizens, his primary duty.
The Dana Air crash has again brought the continued waste of lives in Nigeria to the fore. As always, we are reacting with seething anger and pain, wondering daily why we keep hearing the same thing from those who have been put in positions of power and are incapable of finding lasting solutions to the rot. We do this all the time: we do it when Boko Haram’s bombs explode; we do it every time a child is kidnapped and the parents cry for help; we do it when alarming corrupt practices are brought to public knowledge; we do this all the time and sadly, it’s often all that we do.
And our leaders know this. They know that in a couple of weeks, we will simmer down and return to our state of unconcern/indifference and prayer mode. They know us very well, and that is why nothing will get better anytime soon. We will continue this game of loud noise from us immediately another disaster strikes, and feigned shock and concern from them, rapid responses of committees, investigation panels etc, with results and impact at snail speed. Our rulers know us very well.
The life of a Nigerian isn’t worth a lot at the moment and, truth be told, hasn’t been worth a lot in a very long time. As you read this, a Nigerian is dying needlessly somewhere, of something utterly preventable.
Ayoola Somolu, sister of my friend and fellow filmmaker, Seke Somolu, God rest your soul. I met you only twice but never forgot your beautiful smile. Seke, God grant you and the family the strength to bear this irreplaceable loss.
To the families of all the other victims of the Dana Air crash, my condolences.
God see us all through these hard times of being Nigerian.