Christians faithfuls hold signs as they march on the streets of Abuja during a prayer and penance for peace and security in Nigeria in Abuja on March 1, 2020. (Photo by Kola SULAIMON / AFP)
“If you tyruly believe in the value of life, you care about all of the weakest and most vulnerable members of the society”- Joni Eareckson
A casual and cursory look at some of our national daily Newspapers of today confirm that the value of human life in Nigeria is next to nothing. This worrisome trend of events negates the idea of fake news. We are living in dangerous and extremely difficult times. The death of Nigerian citizens through diverse means is common place today.
Besides the general global afflictions and atrocities of this season, there exist some peculiar variants, vagaries and vicissitudes in our nation. There are questions that demand honest answers. What is the true worth of a Nigerian life? Is it appreciating or depreciating? What are the channels of wastage of human life? What is the motive for this unbridled carnage? What can be done within the ambit of the rule of law, to promote and preserve the life of the Nigerian citizen?
Today, prices of necessities have so sky-rocked that only the rich can afford to have a breakfast of beverages. The price of the improved packed nylon cold water which used to be five naira is now, twenty naira. Poverty enhances wastage of lives. Several Nigerian poor families cannot afford to feed themselves; neither can they afford to handle their medical or other basic needs. As living condition deteriorate, so does lifespan. Today, the average life expectancy of a Nigerian is 58.44 years; that of Ghana is 64.07years and Great Britain is 81.20 years. The statistics of death rate in our nation today is frightening. Hardly does a day go by without the occurrence of human carnage in our nation. The Grim Reaper seems to make his abode here in Nigeria.
Between January and March, 2020, Nigeria recorded 3,947 road accidents and 1,758 deaths accruing from these accidents.
According to the Federal Road Safety Corpse, ‘Kaduna zone recorded the highest number of crashes, totaling 689 while Enugu zone recorded the lowest with 102 crashes’. Consider the fact that this was for three months. What was the result for twelve months? Some of the causes of this ruthless carnage on the Nigerian roads include, bad roads, disobedience to traffic rules and over speeding. All these are products of wrong human mindset. Corruption is the greatest destroyer of our pursuit for an enviable nationhood. Corruption protects the criminal in one ethnic group but hunts down another from other people’s tribes, crucifies the excellent but honours the mediocre, vilifies the innocent but promotes the ignoble.
The 2020 Global Corruption Perceptions Index of Nigeria is 149 out of 179 nations. Nigeria was in the same ignoble group with nations like, Madagascar, Mozambique, Lebanon, Iran, Guatemala and Cameroon who earned the same poor score of 25% on the scales of measurement of corruption. This detestable result has severe consequences on the well being and lives of the citizenry. For instance, in the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry, fake drugs would be common place; in the medical industry, quackery and inefficiency would be tolerated; in politics and governance ineptitude would reign. The end point would be the wastage of human life.
One testimonial of the confirmation of the debilitating state of the Nigerian pharmaceutical and medical situation was the case of a private hospital where it was reported that, several people lost their lives due to the use of fake intravenous fluid. Imagine going to the hospital to obtain medical help and end up entering death trap!
Election violence has continued to claim the lives of many Nigerians and most often, nothing is done to check these excesses. The incursion of terrorism in the Nigeria space is only an extrapolation of the dark and dingy mindset of our people.
One of the best demonstrations of placing value on the lives of the citizenry comes from Israel. During the reign of Idi Amin Dada of Uganda, and precisely on June 27, 1976, a group of terrorists hijacked an Air France plane carrying 103 Jews and landed in Kampala. These Jews were held as hostages. To summarize the story, one week after this hijack, the Israeli government organized a counter air operation and rescued all the Jewish nationals. The only citizen Israel lost was an elderly woman who couldn’t meet up with the escape process. This phenomenon had long become a movie, titled, 90 Minutes At Entebbe. Originally, it was called Operation Thunderbolt.
The questions remain that if those Jews were to be Nigerians, how would the Nigeria government and populace have responded to the situation? Would we be united in our efforts to rescue our citizens or resort to religious and tribal sentiments? Would Nigeria have stood up to recover her citizens or watch in silence as they are being wasted by the terrorists? Your guess is as good as mine.
You can recall the number of Nigerian Children, youths and adults in the hands of kidnappers, armed bandits and terrorists today and we feign to be helpless or unconcerned about the lives of our citizens. All these confirm the fact that the value of life of the Nigerian citizen is less than two per kobo.
It is high time; we turned on a new leaf. This must begin by each of us taking a deliberate decision to place appropriate value on human life. The right place to start is to value our own lives. The Holy Writ confirms this when it enjoins us to love our neighbour like we love ourselves. Nobody can offer what they lack. Giving, useful giving, proceeds from personal treasure.
Also, leaders in the seven Mountains of human endeavour in Nigeria, namely; family, Community, media and entertainment, religious, business and commerce , politics and governance and education should model and be seen as modeling the issue of placing appropriate value in the lives of our citizens. Of course, the various cadres of government in our nation should champion this noble goal.
It is necessary that leaders from all spheres of the Nigerian life become the vanguards of appreciating the value of human life because they possess the public authority to empower those who follow good examples as well as met out sanctions to those who refuse to confirm.
Amaraegbu, clinical psychologist and author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org