A “billionaire” kidnapper, Evans, is now the new icon shining in the dull skies of Nigeria. One may ask how a ruthless kidnapper can either be an icon or hero to millions in Nigeria? Because it is Nigeria. Claude Ake once stated that “Nigeria is the only country in the world where no one questions the source of one’s income.” The depth of the statement is far from casual or mere observation. Amassing wealth in Nigeria, whether legally or illegally, has a highly regarded and venerated virtuousness of its own. In many cases, the more crooked the source of income, the better it is rated by the public. That is why you find young men who have legitimately worked very hard for their money blatantly lie that they made the same money by crooked means. How twisted can things get? Continue reading
While most Nigerians are adept at hiding and ignoring their nation’s hunger and poverty, the past year has not permitted the continuation of that habit without presenting massive allowances for exposure. The current consensus is, “there is untold hunger in Nigeria” and it is hounding over 120 million citizens (who used to live on less than $1.25 a day but it is more like less than $0.50 today) as if with a sheer punitive vengeance. Starvation is becoming commonplace yet death by starvation in the land would be unthinkable to most Nigerians. Think again. The aspect of hunger most are unlikely to handle is, who is to blame? Continue reading
The Nachi Lake emerged ‘spontaneously, out of the ground in Nachi, Enugu State, Nigeria in 2011 and has since become a “health spa” of sorts. It is right to assume that if there is no explanation for the emergence of a natural earth phenomenon in Nigeria, “The Gods are to Blame” or “To Be Praised” depending on how it affects the lives of people who encounter it. In this case, The Gods Are to Be Praised. Bathing in the gooey and foul-smelling water of the lake is said by countless people to cure physical and spiritual illnesses. Millions have visited the lake for the “miracles” of healing, purported to be secured after bathing in the water. Nevertheless, what are the people bathing in Nachi, the land in a country that produced Andrew Jonathan Nok?
It is worth wondering why someone among the countless degree, masters and PhD holders in environmental science [chemistry, ecology, monitoring, protection, management, sustainability etc.] who work at universities, teaching hospitals, independent laboratories or environmental agencies, have not tested the water of the lake to find out its composition. In a properly governed nation, every chemical, biological and physical toxin/toxicant in a lake from its mysterious emergence onwards would have been identified, monitored and catalogued by the appropriate agencies.
If there are any dangers to people bathing in the lake the site should be sealed off. What is in the lake that makes it so gooey and foul [sulphide]-smelling? Sulphides are responsible for those smells produced when humans pass wind or when eggs rot, it is also a potentially dangerous gas when produced in large quantities. A lake is capable of doing that. For the stagnant water, bathers may have seriously polluted the lake with a variety of bodily debris and toxins, which are potentially dangerous. It is not free-flowing water and does not have a sustainable ecosystem. Has the Government of Nigeria (GON) not heard about Lake Nachi? Or is it waiting for the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) or the World Health Organisation (WHO) to test and analyse the lake for them?
Nigeria is a nation so unnecessarily poor if you visit churches that claim to offer its faithful spontaneous, instant and irreversible miracle cures to their various illnesses you will see the unimaginable. People seeking healing for myopia (short-sightedness), toothache, malaria, whitlow, multiple boils, ringworm and so on as written on the placards held up for the healing pastors to see. These medical problems are routinely easy to solve by inexpensive visits to opticians, dentists and doctors or drug stores. As inexpensive as they are, the majority of the population cannot afford them. Cheaper alternative remedies and those provided by clerics only if a monetary offering is given becomes their only hope of healing or recovery. Unrestricted access to a ‘miracle-working’ lake is cheaper still.
The unrelenting and ever-erratic search for miracles by many Nigerians is increasingly observable. It is fuelled more by economic hopelessness and poverty than superstition and ignorance. Poor Nigerians with serious health issues know that if they had the money, they would do exactly what their rich compatriots do; travel overseas for treatment. Besides, the Nigeria healthcare system is not in good shape and dubious value for money treatment is a common experience for patients who use it.
“Lake Nachi water” is drunk all around Nigeria. The use of Nachi Lake for healing is an epidemiologist’s nightmare if it turns out the lake is a toxic cesspool. There is no way to track the countless Nigerians and other nationals that have visited the lake if it is found that the lake is laced with compounds that could cause serious illness or death. Toxins may take months or years after full-body immersion in the lake or drinking its water to cause health problems. That would cause the people who sought a miracle cure from the lake in the first place to seek yet another source of a miracle cure elsewhere. But it would also be another convenient ‘avoided cost’ for the GON.
Nevertheless, we sincerely hope Lake Nachi is not a cause of disaster or hazards for its clients but it would be necessary to know what is in the water. Are there no health / environmental budgets at federal and state levels of government for testing and monitoring potential hazardous lands and waters?
The leaders of the Africa Union when in congress to discuss the problems of the continent, the outcomes are predictable. The stuff put on the table for discussion is often “impossible to achieve but good for utterance only”. These discussions are regularly superficial rhetoric, used to give respectability and fame to those self-appointed African champions who promote them. There will be no concrete and effective instrumental or institutional changes implemented to offer the solutions to the problems at hand. The problems thus persist without foreign intervention. The 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union, with the theme “Women’s Rights in Africa”, is no different.
Development in Nigeria is narrowly focused “brick, mortar and tarmac” constructions with imported technology gadgets thrown in, which is broadly appreciated by the masses and bragged about by the “developers”. Livelihoods, human development, life protection, life preservation and other aspects of developments in Nigeria are yet to kick-in as development objectives or indicators. Furthermore, the brick, mortar and tarmac constructions often have been elevated to mythical and unspoken dimensions as development achievements. Such thinking is a habitual turn of mind which has not evolved beyond pre-Independence expectations of development in developing nation ever-pregnant with hope.
Your piece is poignant and well written but discomforting to read, because it exposes issues of the “pitiful helplessness” and their resignation to it. The state is not going to help them. Instead the state wants to take their land, bulldoze their shanty towns, arrest them for trading without a permit etc. The poor have to survive often very desperate conditions. Even when they turn to crime it does not work out too well for them. The females do not have enough money to look good as prospective sex-workers and males soon get the message that they are easy to catch when they go on robbing missions. Yet, morality does not work very well on an empty stomach, soft and safer crimes are adopted. Continue reading