My yearning for a world-class hospital is still intact. I also do know that Nigerian leaders have the capacity to deliver it if they put their mind to it. But how do you even get the health sector running when you owe doctors, treat them poorly like they don’t matter, like they are just like any other civil servant. Because doctors are not like any other government worker. Not like the accounts officer, admin clerk or even me, a journalist. However that came out, it wasn’t intended to look down on other professions. It is just what it is. In my opinion, teachers and doctors deserve to be treated better, given special status because our national and individual lives depend on them. Our priorities are just warped in Nigeria.
What kind of country can afford to buy brand new cars every four years for every new elected officer and public appointees but forgets to pay its doctors well? Have you tried to imagine the number of agencies under each of our state and federal ministries? Some of the ministries themselves are not viable. In fact some of them should no longer be in existence. I leave you to make a list of all the ministries in your state and the ones in Abuja. Add the hundreds of agencies (yes, they are hundreds) under each of those ministries and then you will see how we spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need. All those agencies have hundreds of Permanent Secretaries, Directors and all kinds of officers too.
So, we have money to pamper politicians, enough to build gigantic offices for agencies and departments that we will not miss if we scrap today and our leaders say they are leading us. Leading us where?
Did you hear the President of the National Association of Resident Doctors on national television when he said that at a meeting with NARD and Federal government officials, the striking doctors were told to call off their strike because the government had credited their accounts with funds meant to pay the shortfall in their salaries that had pissed off the doctors only for them to get no alert. Wow! Was that federal fraud or government 419?
Seriously, those who lead us must provide evidence that they are worth our investment in them. Those who stayed in the sun and queued for hours to put our leaders in nice offices should not be forgotten by those who rode on their backs to power. It is ungodly to find money for the perks of office and forget to take care of doctors who take care of the health of the voters. Those who take holy communion should not forget that God eventually heard the groan of the Israelites in Egypt. Going to Umrah four times a year will not make a bad leader less ungodly. Let us get our acts right and put our money where our mouth is. We will never really get our health sector right if we throw money that can be used in that sector at what does not profit the nation in the long run.
And now to the resident doctors. My stand on your annual strike is well known since one of my colleagues, Joseph Sesebo, died as LASUTH during one of your strikes in 2005. Your strikes are too costly. They do irreversible damage. But I feel your frustration. The hours you work are mean. The miracles you do should be handsomely paid for, gratefully. You deserve your wages in full. Maybe you should even protest. So you went on strike for 10 days and you are back at work. What will you now say to mothers who lost their children during the strike, pregnant women who had miscarriages and still births while you were on strike? What now? Will you make the dead walk? Looks like you have once again walked through blood and anguish of some people to get your bank alerts. Does that not sound like money ritual, or is it ritual money? I’m just wondering. Again.
And the python danced
I knew it. Who doesn’t know that nothing good will come out from a python coming to town in broad daylight? Not only did this python arrive in all his lengthy glory, it also decided to dance. A dancing python is a dangerously daring snake. Since I learnt of its arrival in Abia, I knew that there would be consequences and repercussions. First, I wondered who the drummers were that accompanied this daring snake because there must be drumming, even singing before dancing. So, was the music provided by humans or the python clan? Or was it a collabo? My reliable sources said it was a collabo between man and animal. Were there other snakes involved? I was also reliably informed that other snakes, the ones from the venomous family came incognito too as part of the python entourage. They came to have fun, some said. But I knew that Abia people would not only not be able to have fun, they’d lose their peace and sleep. I was right. This python threw his length everywhere, pretended to be dancing, curled his fleshy cold blooded body around businesses and goodness of Aba and Umuahia, slowly but steadily suffocating the state.
The python doesn’t bite. Its strength is in its size, its ability to snuff life out of its victim. Its strength is in the paralyzing fear the sight of him provokes. Whether this great snake is just on a routine patrol or it was on a strangle-them-in-dozens mission, the ill wind it came with blew nobody any good and what was worse, we were all powerless before this intimidating reptile. That was why all the noise, comments and verbal vituperations in the public space could not dislodge this unwanted visitor. Governor Ikpeazu has finally coaxed the python to dance back to where he came from. Let us believe he took his bulk and venomous dancers and singers with him. However, my major worry is this: have we learnt our lessons?
Lesson one. Only those who have the misfortune of hosting the dancing python suffer the suffocation and that those who help bring him out watch from afar. The python and his evil band went to Abia. Abians felt the pain more. The rest of us just watched from a distance, quoting the constitution, international charters on fundamental human rights, issuing threats and trafficking fake news from our safe cocoons. Only the hosts of the python knew what it was to dance with a snake.
Lesson two. The Yoruba have a saying: Omo olomo l’aa ran n’ise de toru toru, meaning it is only other people’s children you send on a dangerous mission. Did you see the stubborn children of laid-back parents being led to prison on national television on penultimate Thursday? Did you see Nnamdi Kanu’s son among them? Did you see the toddler crying and waving through the window of the bus taking his father to prison along with the 30 IPOB members charged for sins ranging from treason to murder? The tyke must have been wondering why his daddy was not returning home with him. And if his daddy’s charge was murder, he just might not return in a long while.
His innocent wave brought tears to my eyes because this IPOB thing could alter that toddler’s destiny forever. He could end up not being able to go to school just because of the choice his father made. His mother wept with him and I scanned that crowd for Kanu’s wife, Kanu’s children and didn’t see them. Those ones are ‘chilling’ somewhere in the US or Europe while other people’s children are being suffocated by the python. But Kanu did not force them. He did not jazz them. It was the choice of those who followed him on this mission. Again, I ask, is it true Kanu’s whereabouts is still unknown? Shame, he left his disciples to go to the cross for him? I hope not. That is not what heroes do. They do not abandon their followers. But then he was smarter than his followers.
Lesson 3. You do not set your own home ablaze while you are fighting outside. Defend your territory. Meet your enemy midway. Do not allow the python to glide nicely to your territory and soak your python hunters in mud water. This Biafra battle taking place in Biafra land is not smart but what do I know about wars? I know, though, that I will not let anybody break bottles or throw punches in my living room. I’m smart enough to know not to bring war to my backyard. War at your backyard is a gory sight to behold.
Shouldn’t the venue will shift somewhere else?
In all, I hope that the protesters and IPOB faithfuls have realized that this route will not lead to the promised land. Whatever must be done should be done to ensure the python does not ever return to dance in Abia or anywhere else for that matter because you cannot hurl out a big snake through the window. The python is not a lizard. Have I spoken well?