It was one of the postgraduate exams’ seasons, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idi Araba was my centre. I had come in few days to the exams crashing in one of the hotels behind LUTH.
The memory stuck like the electromagnetic ripples.
Driving in on a Sunday into that boomburb of the Idi Araba area, I found out that LUTH has been wedged into a group of poorly developed slums behind and a fairly presentable frontage. The number of occupants in each building are best counted early morning when the women bath the children and the men run to start the day: another city in a city.
I managed to locate the already booked hotel and my car windscreen narrowly missed being smashed by a ravaging and speeding football; I had driven through their goalposts and these grown up youths and young men were not interested in that automobile driven passage on a tarred road…..
They were looking indestructible, stout and yet angry at every conversation they were having. Foul languages rented the air and broken bottles litter the gutters and some of the pathways. Last night was tough I had later found out; the nights are always tough really.
It was on a Sunday – late morning when I expected to see no one in the area; I didn’t go to church because I left home very early to beat the traffic in Lagos for a 3 to 4 hours’ journey and those guys playing their football didn’t go because they don’t usually go to Church? Which Church is that?
Wait till Friday, the Mosques too had many old men and women in attendance, few youths; religion might have been miscontrued in the past and sometimes stirr up controversies, its sure has place in child’s upbringing and albeit the traditionalists teach morals too.
When poverty meets a morally deliquent, the result is cantankerous.
Going forward, by 6pm, music was blaring from every angle and India hemp was in the air. Although I used to think I had microsmia or I ‘m hyposmic (do not perceive odour fully and not on time); I saw and smelt the smokes colouring our views as my friends and myself passed to find a place for dinner, the confidence written in the eyes of those guys: living in Lagos and Idi Araba for that matter; the poor drainage system that runs openly and with stenching odours that choke our very perception of a fairly comfortable life, we returned to the hotels with our food in the packs and our hearts in our mouths!
Idi Araba: the LUTH’s endangering neighbourhood, here we came!
The serenity of the popular health facility about 500 metres to our hotels is deafening, the ward coats of the medical students and their teachers stood and sparkled, their stethoscopes were speaking: come and do medicine. O ga ju….it is a tall one!
The Nursing Students dazzle also with their multi – coloured uniforms and doning well – fitted caps that were adorned with stripes that correspond their number of years in training; the Nursing Staff walked majestically while the patients and relatives strive in their conversations to meet up the calmness of the facility.
That was LUTH, Idi Araba in Lagos State.
The contrasting lives within and outside LUTH had always begged for attention and it is typical of our very state in Nigeria.
And. We. Loved. To. Ignore.
The very rich men in our neighbourhoods drive their gigantic lexuses on the very poor road that leads to their houses, some able – bodied but not rich guys take to the road pouring broken stones and sand into the potholes. The rich men and women drive away with music and air – conditioners wedging the poor guys away; very few Danfo drivers drop some dirty notes while the very rich ones even splash dirty water to those trekking to their homes if it has just rained…..
Can you relate?
Even if the rich men gave out new naira notes to those fixing the roads in their own ways, they are just postponing evil days because:
One day the very poor would eat the very rich!
Unfortunately, it is not happening that way. It is the very struggling lowest ebb of our economic classes – the one whose parents take cooperative contributions and sell ”pangolo” that usually fall prey into the hands of the growing unrestrained, unhelped, neglected slum pushers!
How Dr Stephen Urueye – a newly convocated house officeer walked into his death is not new to LUTH inhabitants. No, not at all.
There were many times, doctors and Nurses were being raped in their call rooms in the past that had often sparked up protests and strike actions at the hospital in Idi Araba;
it is embarrasing to get robbed at one’s working places but to get raped while at the duty post is an anathema that warrant a spiritual cleansing of the ”Ogboju Ode ninu Igbo Irunmole type” – God bless the late pa Fagunwa!
The number of times the medical students had protested being robbed in and around their hostels were countless until this young cheerful medical graduate was daggered again at the entrance of the place where he had invested all his life!
To realize that the Mother of late Dr Stephen Urueye had him as the only son whom she had laboured to raise in thick and thins say a lot about how unfair and callous the world and our lives seem.
No, it is how irksome and collosally miserable we have made the life to be for ourselves.
The crimes that go on in present day Nigeria daily seem to outnumber the number of house units in this country and Lagos stood tall as a model in this regard despite all the policing and anti terrorisms boasted of.
In Lagos and in fact many states in Nigeria including the over-killed Zamfara state’s inhabitants, terrors lurk around like the moon and we wish them away doing exactly nothing.
Our security agents do not always catch armed bandits that bathe every night with people’s blood at the spot – ”rara o” ( no way), but they always get to the scene of men who plait hair, of women who wear trousers and of guys who spend their money in the club houses.
How Sambisa forest became a tourist centre attracting visiting armed security men for only few days of making headlines (at the international conferences) and the peace loving civilians’ neighbourhoods become the perrenial police check points is hilarious….Awon Baba Sala tide!
Imagine the same way Kolade Johnson got killed for watching our ”terror” inflicting SARS from a distance (as they bullied his street’s neighbour); by blood thirsty, consequences – damming police officers.
Imagine how a responsible middle aged man get killed – for taking a stroll to watch a football match – by security forces who were meant to make him watch his Liverpool game in peace but who had just ”pieces” the former’s loins unapologectically, you should know that ours is a tale of an inimically haemorraging state.
And we boast of unwaivered security in far away lands…..And now our SARS had become Anti – Robbery Squad, Anti – Cultism agents, Anti- Internet fraudsters, Anti – sexual offenders, Anti – cross dressers, Anti – domestic violence and Anti- Night clubbing; then the name SARS is a typical ”aporo – epajebu” that cures all, kill all!
How many times have we not held the campaigns of #EndSARS like an Abiku whose epileptic fits leave the sympathizers running helter skelter bringing pepper, onion, salt and ”omorogun” as if this fit is a feast of cooking contest?
Our #EndSars campaigns with police commissioners visiting and condoling with the families of the bereaved ones have become rehersals.
Sometimes the maddening – disease infected officer would be caught and dismissed, their sentences and trials afterward is like Mr Mamood’s count one state’s and pause many elections:
Sometimes, they are even not found at all.
Moreover, I m deeply saddened by the fact that the suspects or perpetrators of these crimes are quickly apprehended by the security agents latest 24 hours after the deaths and or other deeds have been done and dusted; rarely busted before the heinous crimes.
Our policing system sucks and runs a circus movement like Theresa May and her baby called BREXIT!
What is it that made crimes’ prevention strategies alien to us in this part of the world? What exactly?
It is the lack of respect for the rule of law.
The absence of rule of law that cannot allow LUTH management to ask for adequate security and patrols of the hospital environs when everyone knows the contrasting and angry lives that surround the enviable facility!
To think that no one in LUTH has thought about the crimes and absurdities that cling around the fence of their facility, pulling people or their properties and many a time, both to themselves, is frivolous and perplexing.
How can we ignore the insolvency and lack of education that surround us while we flash our cars and children – our future – like disco parties’ lights? Just how?
For late Dr Stephen to have spent sleepless nights going for lectures, tutorials, bedside teachings and personal readings trying to grasp the meaning of MEDICINE and to loose such life to one drug – addict, unmentored and blood thirsty demon is too much for me and I don’t have the right consoling words for the Mother and immediate family and friends!
That we watch the demon grows and multiply right in our eyes and start snuffing lives out of people is a superlative failure and poisonous to the very lives we love to live.
And to make it the worst crime of men to fellow men, we offer the MEDICINE that late Stephen learnt so hard all his life after his death; arresting the culprits after the poor man was pronounced dead where he was trained.
Late Dr Stephen was not saved before harms come on his ways but our security systems mock him as a Nigerian.
This is the same way we are offering the late Johnson’s parents that Justice that has alluded this very handsome and promising gentleman in South Africa, the JUSTICE that made him ran away from XENOPHOBIA; that JUSTICE is being served to the parents at his death, in his country home that condemns Xenophobia hypocritically.
What do you call a strongly served hatred and killings of some people because of their class and origin?
Can we now welcome our Nigeria’s type of Xenophobia: that kept me very restless all days of the previous week?
Why are we so callous to ourselves?
Why are we so insensitive to others around us? Justifying every form of mistreatment on the podium of ”kilowakanminibe” – what is my own there?
Why can’t the very rich ones see beyond their multi-million naira electric fencing that is meant to ward off the very intruders that we love to oppress in our areas, the intruders we love to use to snatch ballot boxes, the intruders the political barrons give funds to for loading heroine, tramadols and hemps?
The same intruders are so naive enough to leave the rich and kill their fellow but honestly diligent and resourceful poor men and women; from Offa in Kwara state to Zamfara , Lagos and beyond, the very honest and well behaved masses continue to be slaughtered.
These preventable crimes and killings call for many consequential actions.
It is therefore very palpable herein that our securities are in our hands as we make efforts to:
1. Reduce night crawling biko. If you were enjoying it; it is no longer fashionable: the untamed SARS and their cousins: stab and kill armed robbers are on rampage….No election money to share again apparently.
2. Help those people in your areas in the little ways you can, stop showing off your sweat gotten assets with no tangible defence in sight!
3. If your neigbourhood is as deadly as the Idi Araba environs, organise a formidable estate or street security or move from the area;
I hope the LUTH management would do something in this regard also:
too many lives are at stake really and if the hospital staff and patients are not safe then we should go to the stone age:
Here take these roots and clubs;
Spare me these medicines after the many needless deaths!