Monday, June 10, 2013

Class Divide in Death

An accident occurred on Friday, April 5, 2013 at Ugbogui along the Benin -Ore Expressway that involved a haulage truck belonging to Dangote Industries Limited, a petrol tanker and a double-decked  bus.  It  claimed over 100 lives of innocent Nigerians but did not attract any official reaction from the Ogas at the top nor attract any sympathetic response from them to the victims or their relatives. The business mogul, whose truck hit the petrol tanker that ignited the inferno that eventually consumed the victims, never said anything as regards the accident nor the lives of those wasted. No condolence message from the industries’ management. Neither the Presidency nor the National assembly declared any mourning period or observed a moment of silence on the floor to mourn the dead victims.

On June 3,2012 at Iju-Ishaga Lagos-State an air-crash claimed the lives of over 160 occupants of  the aircraft. The government declared 3 days of national mourning, lowered  the nation’s flag to half mast. Many visits were paid to the homes of the bereaved and paid adverts were sponsored by some past heads of state to show their grief. The Senate President, David Mark and Speaker Tambuwal where emotionally affected during the calamitous period. The families of the victims were allowed to claim the bodies of their loved ones, after DNA tests were carried out by the airlines management, to allow the victims to be accorded befitting burials with the compensation and little ameliorative measures given to the victims’ families or relatives, even though the ground victims are yet to be compensated.

In the case of unfortunate victims of Ore-Benin accident was not like that. They were not accorded any befitting burials,  packed  inside a dingy truck that carried them to the mass burial site. It only took a vigorous and sustained demonstrations on the part of the widows of the slain police officers of Atakpo Village, Nasarawa State before the dead bodies of their husbands were not giving mass burial but latter released to their wives and relatives for decent burial.

The embarrassing thing was the action of officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) which denied relatives the release of the corpses, claiming that they were burnt beyond recognition as if those that were burnt at Dana crash were all recognisable, and if so, why carrying out DNA test on them and why not the same treatment given to the victims of the Benin accidents. Are the Dana air mishap victims more Nigerian than the Benin--Ore victims? No, but because the majority of the dead victims in the air disaster were either VIPs or related to any of the ‘Ogas at the top’.

This is the scenario that plays itself out in Nigeria on daily basis and it has been affecting the unity, progress and development of the nation’s infrastructure.The situation of the nation’s health sector gives little concerns to the people at the top. A situation where any poor Nigerian who needs medical attention and cannot get it due to poverty or non availability of the medical equipment needed in the treatment of their cases and will be referred to overseas for treatment and no money to undergo such medical tourism will now result to begging on the pages of newspaper for funds, never  pricked the consciences of those ‘Ogas at the top’ is condemnable.

In the justice system is another area where class distinction is very obvious. Kelvin IghaIgbodaho that stole a phone that worth N50,000 was awarded 10 years jail term recently without option of fine.  John YakubuYesufu that confessed to the stealing of N32.9 billion  police pension fund was jailed 2 years OR pay the fine option of N750,000 . In Nigeria, the rich get their bails while the poor get their jails.

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