Last month, YNaija.com launched its Monthly Citizenship Dispatches, which explores in detail, the lives and realities of Nigerian citizens across the country.
This month, the dispatches come from the Niger Delta, where our reporters have spent weeks digging deep into a part of the country oft reported about and sadly still mis-understood.
These are the stories we will share with you daily over the next two weeks – for the voices, the issues, the realities that fellow citizens living in the Delta have dealt with, and continue to deal with every day.
The year that Godknows Tamuno was born was also the same year that he died. His time in this sinful world was limited to a grand total of four days only. And it broke his mother’s heart.
Esther blamed the doctors. And she blamed the hospital. And she blamed the government. And she was right on all counts.
“We learnt that the Niger Delta Development Commission had awarded a contract to renovate the government hospital in Burutu but nothing happened”, she says in pidgin English, fighting back the tears from her eyes.
Godknows was her first son and she had been expectant. When she was in labour and the lights went off, she did not expect that anything would go wrong, even though she did not also expect that the hospital would not have diesel to go ahead with the delivery. So when complications arose from the birth of her baby, she did not expect that they would be bad enough to snuff out his life after four days.
“My child did nothing to anyone in this world. Small hospital government cannot fix, so what happens to other things?”
She was a student at the School of Marine Technology in Burutu when she became pregnant with the child. His father used to work as an adhoc staff before he lost his job. After idling away for months in Burutu, he moved to Warri with his wife so she could run a small store in the popular Igbudu market in the oil-rich city, selling vegetables and fresh fish. Her sister-in-law, keen to banish thoughts of Godknows from the minds of the grieving couple, had helped them setup the business in town. While she sells at the market, he is driving a tricycle, carrying passengers around town to be able to make his daily returns to the owner, who he has signed a hire purchase agreement with.
“No work for me, no work too for my husband”, laments Esther who is pregnant again. “If not for God who used my husband sister to open a way for us, what would we do?”
Business is moving at a slow pace, because of the economy but the small family is not feeling the heat yet. For now, there’s just the two of them and both husband and wife have been saving for the arrival of their baby in a few months. This time, they plan to sidestep the government’s incompetence and have their second baby in a private hospital.
Only God knows for sure, but one is pretty certain Godknows would have approved of their line of thinking.