“Time makes it possible to pick up and carry on.” I lost count of the number of times I said this, on the morning following the day Dr. Chike Akunyili died. I woke up and read the news. I thought about his children and what seeing their father in such a helpless state would do to them. I wasn’t related to the man, yet, devasted. I could not imagine the load of their grief.
I am constantly heartbroken at the deplorable state of this country. I look at Nigeria, and I see NOTHING. Before that Wednesday morning, I tried not to exaggerate this darkness. “It won’t always be this dark,” I always chided myself.
I saw the video where onlookers watched Dr. Akunyili struggle for life, and my heart sank. The hopelessness that is Nigeria flashed right before my eyes.
I was a trainee in one of the commercial banks’ training schools in Lagos, the period the Chibok schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists. I recall how I floated around the Staffbus on our ride home like an out-of-body experience. Most times, when things become too overwhelming, my body shuts down. Such was my state that evening as I watched my colleagues’ lips and hands move as they analyzed and discussed the kidnap. I imagined the horrible things that could be happening to the girls, with goosebumps all over my body. The unfortunate event shook the entire country. #BringBackOurGirls trended all over the world.
Weeks before Dr. Akunyili’s gruesome murder, these were some of the news headlines – “gunmen kill 88 in Kebbi”, “suspected herdmen kill 20 in Oyo, raze King’s palace”, “herdsmen kill three teenage brothers in Benue, Police stray bullet hits protesters.”
Senseless deaths and killings had become the norm.
I went through a range of emotions as I watched a recorded video of Dr. Akunyili’s struggle for life. At first, I was angry at the schoolmate who shared the video on a WhatsApp group, then at the young man who recorded the video. It broke my heart that he picked up his phone to record a human being who was just shot and was dying rather than comfort a man at the brink of death. It pained me that this young man had seen and heard about so much death that human lives meant nothing to him. He and the others who watched as Dr. Akunyili died had become immune to the violent killings and deaths happening every day in the country.
Two things became clear as I wiped off tears from my face – “human lives mean nothing in Nigeria.” “The Nigerian state succeeds in taking away the humanity in Nigerians.”
I was livid.