by Dolapo Aina
“Who are we? We are no longer normal…. Nigeria is a giant embarrassingly trapped in dwarfish height.” –Dr Oby Ezekwesili
In 2012, I wrote an article about the ALUU 4; the article was prompted by a speech given by Dr. Oby Ezekwesili in which the former top shot at the World Bank lamented the gradual decline of the value of the Nigerian life. While she delivered her speech, she came close to tears.
Several years later, on the 11th of February 2015, while on my way to attend a meeting; I had to make use of the Oniru Estate/Ligali Ayorinde road in Victoria Island. While on board a tricycle (better known as Keke Marwa), I observed a body by the side of the road and I was shocked. I went for my appointment and couldn’t reflect on the body I saw (at 9.55am) throughout the day. In the evening, I made use of the same road and I realised the body was still there; unattended to.
The shock for me was that there was a traffic stand still on this particular road and no one bothered to find out what was wrong with the man. From afar, I took pictures, hoping I won’t have to use any.
In the evening, while gathering my thoughts, I remembered the body I saw and I hoped that the authorities would have taken the dying man to the hospital.
Thursday, the 12th of February 2015.
I decided to take the same route and my heart was blown to smithereens when I noticed the body was still there, with a brown cartoon paper which covered his midsection. I had to walk over to the car hire park which was opposite the body and I discussed with the drivers in a mixture of Yoruba and English. What they told me was quite shocking. After several minutes with them, I took pictures and a video clip of what I saw. I took the pictures and video clip hoping I wouldn’t have to post and upload them on the internet. But how would I post such on the internet? Wouldn’t that place me in the bandwagon of the dysfunctional society Nigerians live in? Dysfunctional but a majority of the citizens think nothing is wrong with the way they reason or get results.
And with a mixture of shock, annoyance and dented patriotism (what is left of it); I tweeted the Lagos State Governor Babatunde [email protected], the foremost stand up comedian Alibaba [email protected] and Japheth Omojuwa @Omojuwa. Do read the tweets below;
– At 10am on Wednesday;I tweeted about a naked body(man), I saw along the Oniru/Ligali Road, barely alive
– I didnt want to take any pixs in the morning.But in the evening,the man was still there.It was shocking
– Shocking to me because down the road is a traffic wardens’ post (the one that leads to Shoprite Lekki)&just at the back of this street is IRU LOCAL COUNCIL DEVELOPMENT AREA; which should handle such matters
– I passed through that road in the evening as traffic built up; I checked&found the man was still there. From afar, I decided to take decent pictures (hoping I wont do anything with them and delete them). I got home and hoped by Thursday, the man would have been taken to the hospital.
– Today is Thursday, I decided to pass through the road and alas the man is still there. But not alive. That I was&still shocked is beyond belief. But the story I got is mindblowing. I ask ARE WE STILL NORMAL?
– People around told me; the man had mental issues. People went to IRU LOCAL COUNCIL DEVELOPMENT AREA. The officials at IRU LOCAL COUNCIL DEVELOPMENT AREA came along. Took pictures&told those who reported it, that they had to pay 25,000Naira before the dying man could be taken away. The people wondered why they should pay 25,000Naira for officials of IRU LOCAL COUNCIL DEVELOPMENT AREA.
– Believe it, the IRU COUNCIL DEVELOPMENT AREA officials left without taking the naked dying man. The naked man is no longer alive, so said the people I spoke with. And his lifeless body is still there.
– Am not a journalist and am decent enough not to post pictures or upload the video. Do something Governor
For several hours I was in shock; wondering if we as citizens were still normal? The shock (which I observed was very unusual of me) must have been prompted or influenced by a motorcycle accident I saw in Kigali, capital of Rwanda in December 2014 and the effectiveness with which the authorities handled the accident. Surprisingly, 2 hours later, I went past this particular route and you would not have known an accident occurred some hours earlier. Juxtaposing a country like Rwanda; whose population can not be compared with the population of Lagos State, one would think some things should work. In the evening, I went past the Oniru Estate/Ligali Ayorinde road and observed the body was no longer there.
One of the lessons I have learnt in 2014; is never to compare Nigeria with Western Countries. it is a fruitless adventure. It would be proper compare Nigeria with her fellow African countries. Since the experience of the body in an exclusive part of Lagos; I have wondered and still mulling over why citizens and relevant authorities would be nonchalant about human life. Throughout that day, I complained to a Nigerian entrepreneur and East African friend residing in Nigeria about what I know is the rapid decline in /of our collective humanness, moral fabric and the lack of human dignity and value for human life. I wondered and still do wonder, if I want to be part of a system where abnormality is the accepted norm.
If you are reading this and you have discovered other cultures; you would concur with this writer that there is a fundamental flaw in Nigeria’s collective norms and practices. But how would one know a bad trait, when he/she was born into it; and growing up to believe it is the accepted norm, African or global practice?
As I composed this reflective piece, I still rehash Mrs Ezekwesili’s speech and rhetorical question she posed to the audience at that event in 2012 and which she is still reiterated at the Social Media Week Lagos event on Monday, the 23rd of February 2015, by asking; are we still normal?
Experiencing other African cultures; I can posit that there is a fundamental flaw in our collective cultural psyche and it has permeated negatively into almost all facets of life but a lot of Nigeria have no a clue. My generation was born into a system that was not working i.e. abnormality was the norm. If so, the citizens who think and act normal are surely the outcasts.
Several years after the ALUU 4 lynching; and on the 1st of March 2015; news filtered in, that an angry mob lynched a girl (suspected suicide bomber) to death. And you still think we live in a normal society with normal cultural norms? Think again.
– Dolapo Aina tweets from @DolapoAina
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.