Hauwa Gambo: Our slow march to death (YNaija FrontPage)

Scene of the Navy Helicopter crash that killed General Azazi and Governor Yakowa

It’s time for our leaders to take this seriously – if they don’t, the fire they have refused to put off will engulf them. There will be no escape for all of us – whether we are in Business Class, helicopters or private jets.

“Nigeria will die if we continue to pretend that she is only slightly indisposed,” said Achebe in ‘There Was A Country’, and it is all I can think of as I consider my nation; our nation.

Every time images emerge of President Jonathan’s home town, Otuoke – it reminds me that democracy in Nigeria just doesn’t exist or where it exists, it is yet to be of any benefit to the people, which is exactly how it was meant to function.

The first time, there was a flood in Bayelsa, and the president’s village was surrounded by water and on lock down, because, you know, the community is so cut off from society that it might as well exist in the 19th century.

The next time, his elder brother passed on, and the entire machinery of state moved over to Bayelsa to bury Chief Meni Jonathan. From the church to the streets of Otuoke, the poverty and total lack of development from the Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s own backyard was depressing.

If it doesn’t worry you, well it should – if the president will not even pay attention to the place where his family comes from, where will he really pay any attention to? If he is not troubled by the absence of government in his own home community, where will he be troubled?

Bayelsa was in the news again last weekend, and this failure of governance was yet on display. The president’s most popular special adviser, Oronto Douglas was burying his father and again, though to a lesser degree, the entire apparatus of governance seemed to move temporality to Okoroba, his village.

To get to Okoroba, you have to enter certain rickety, perhaps dangerous speedboats that reportedly take you two hours to get from Yenogoa. So the Very Important Personalities hijacked a navy aircraft and found their way to celebrate the life of the accomplished late Douglas.

Unfortunately, it didn’t end well for two of them. Andrew Owoye Aziza, former national security adviser; and Patrick Yakowa, the first Christian governor of Kaduna State lost their lives when the helicopter reportedly exploded and then crashed into the creeks.

Conspiracy theorists have been fast and furious, not helped by silly careless statements from the likes of Benue governor, Gabriel Suswam – Nigerians have said repeatedly that someone blew that plane off, most likely to kill off Azazi.

I am convinced there is a simpler explanation: the plane was not in a good state to fly.

What is there to be confused about really? In June, a Dana Airplane crashed and killed everyone on board, barely a month ago, thegovernor of a Nigerian state was flying another small plane and it crashed and he is said to be brain-dead. Do we really need a TB Joshua prophecy to tell us that the same failure in standards, and safety that led to those deaths must have led to that of last weekend’s?

The problem however is that our leaders, somehow think they are insulated from the inanity that they have made our country into. Unfortunately, they aren’t.

If we have an aviation industry where aircraft are not properly maintained, or properly supervised, then one day that system is going to get to the elite. If we have a system where a navy aircraft can be diverted for random private use; even taking reportedly more rides in a day than it should, then that disrespect of process would one day go higher up.

And here is the thing: it could have been the children of the president flying on that helicopter going off to attend the event of Uncle Oronto. It could have been Mr. Douglas himself in that aircraft running around to give his father a deserved passing off to the after-life.

How does it happen that these people do not understand that the continued under-development of Nigeria is a perpetual risk to them no matter how many helicopters they have or how many bodyguards they surround themselves with?

It’s called enlightened self-interest.

It’s time for our leaders to take this seriously – if they don’t, the fire they have refused to put off will engulf them. There will be no escape for all of us – whether we are in Business Class, helicopters or private jets.



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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