We also commend the countries that contributed to the rescue effort. Other countries in the developing world, including Nigeria, should learn some lessons from the Thailand experience.
The rescue of the 12 teenage players of Thai football team and their coach trapped in a flooded Thai cave deserves commendation. Members of the Wild Boars soccer team, aged 11 to16 and their 25-year-old coach were reported missing after football practice on June 23 when they entered the Tham Luang cave in Thailand’s Chiang Rai Province.
The team reportedly entered the cave during fine weather but quickly got stuck when a sudden downpour flooded the tunnels. The incident and the rescue effort caught global attention. Experts from all over the world including the USA, Europe, Australia, China and Japan were involved in the effort to free the boys. About seven British divers were reported to have taken part in the exercise.
A team of 13 international divers and five Thai Navy Seals were involved in the effort to rescue the team and their coach. It took the rescue team 17 days to free the boys alongside their coach in batches. After much effort, four of the 12 boys were rescued on July 8. Another four boys were brought to safety on July 9 while the remaining four boys and their coach were freed on July 10.
Unfortunately, one of the divers and former Thai Navy Seal, Saman Kunan, lost his life in the rescue mission on July 6. The Thai football team and their coach have paid a tearful tribute to the late diver. According to reports, “the survivors cried and expressed their thanks to the Thai Seal by bowing to his picture.” The late diver was honoured at a state burial on July 15.
Without doubt, his death, while saving others, exemplified love and altruism. The team and their coach declined FIFA’s invitation to the final of the 2018 World Cup on medical grounds. Although the boys have been discharged from the hospital, they should be watched for signs of psychological distress. They should also avoid situations that could trigger a post-traumatic reaction.
We commend the Thai authorities and the rescue team for bringing to safety the footballers and their coach. The rescue operation was dramatic, efficient and even miraculous. We also commend the countries that contributed to the rescue effort. Other countries in the developing world, including Nigeria, should learn some lessons from the Thailand experience.
They should learn to value human life more than anything else. The steadfastness in rescuing the young players and their coach shows that the country values human life. Nigerians should emulate the Thai spirit of love and value for human life in handling rescue missions. In fact, our rescue effort in freeing those trapped in collapsed buildings has not been encouraging. Generally, our responses to emergencies have left much to be desired.
Therefore, we call on the Federal Government to imbibe the Thai spirit and intensify effort to rescue the remaining Chibok schoolgirls, the Dapchi schoolgirl and other Nigerians held captive by the Boko Haram sect. The government should use the same spirit to tackle the rising insecurity in the country and stop the incessant killings of Nigerians by herdsmen.
It is worth pointing out that one of the campaign issues of Muhammadu Buhari prior to the 2015 election was the rescue of Chibok girls. While some of the girls have been released, many of them are still held by the insurgents. It is by rescuing them that the government can demonstrate that it has value for human life and that the life of every Nigerian matters.
The government must ensure the security and welfare of all Nigerians as enshrined in Section 14 (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). Its failure to do this will amount to abdication of responsibility.