A good old friend of mine resident in Chicago, Yomi Abioye, aka Macito, texted me after reading the first part of this article. The Ifon-born indigene of Osun said, “You ought to have ended this write-up this week and focus your next article on the bunch of buccaneers in our legislature that has become a symbol of corruption. Can you imagine how they are publicly sharing taxpayers’ money among themselves?”
I texted back: “Yes, I had wished my thoughts on the gruesome death of Dr. Diaso inside a lift of the Lagos Island Hospital, Odan, contained in just one article, but there are a couple of issues I still want to speak to, hence I decided to project my views in a two-part series.
“As per our rent-seeking legislators, money-sharing is a habit; it’s no news when they profiteer from the system. It’s when they don’t ‘point and kill’ that we have the unusual, that’s when we have the breaking news! However, I may still come back to the legislature in two weeks if the tide of their shenanigans had not ebbed because I’m considering revisiting the sit-at-home madness in the South-East next.”
When a columnist picks a topic and serialises it, s/he is likely to miss out on discussing other news items as they break, just as I rue missing the opportunity to react to the great Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi, banning Oro worshippers from exercising their right to worship. Well, I prefer to be full than be a fool.
In deference to the law of expansion, which I learnt in secondary school physics, I’ll slightly change the headline of my first article, “Murder in Sanwo-Olu’s hospital,” to “Death in Sanwo-Olu’s hospital,” in order to make room for an expansion of the scope of this follow-up article.
Whereas death is an umbrella covering all homicides, murder is a fitting cap for lawless, intentional homicide. The law of expansion in physics says that an increase in temperature results in an increase in volume. Conversely, an increase in the scope of this article derives from an increase in its intensity.
Despite the death of many Nigerians on highways across the country yearly, the trend has been irreversible due to the inability of the government to check the major cause of carnage; bad roads.
There’s hardly a family in the country that has not suffered the loss of life/lives on our bleeding roads, yet government overlooks the major cause, causing tears to course down faces. We dig graves, plant loved ones, mouth dust-to-dust, and move on.
Headless, the government has nowhere to place the thinking cap. Foolish, the citizenry spiritualises negligence, spreading the tears-soaked sackcloth of mourning on God’s omnipotence and the clergy preaches the homily, “For everything there’s a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted….”
I perused the whole of the Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, where this quote is taken, hoping to read, “a time to die senseless death,” but I didn’t find such a thing. I asked some Muslims, including my friend, Macito, and a couple of traditional religion devotees if there’s a verse that justifies senseless death in their religions, they said no.
Yet, Nigerian roads, before independence 63 years ago, and up till now, have continued to be a reel of unending deaths that include the first son of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Segun; opposition leader in the western region, Chief Adegoke Adelabu (Penkelemesi); General John Shagaya, Major General Abdulkareem Adisa, foremost industrialist, Chief Rufus Giwa; former Minister of State for Labour, Chief James Ocholi; along with his wife and son, popular rapper, Dagrin; actor JT Tom-West, musician MC Loph, and reality TV star, Patrick Fakoya aka Rico Swavey.
Famous academic and novelist, Professor Festus Iyayi, and, lately, Professor Lai Oso, a consummate media scholar, among many other Nigerians from all walks of life, have died in road crashes. The late world-renowned literary giant, Chinua Achebe, was confined to a wheelchair after he survived a crash.
Unarguably, some road accidents are caused by reckless and drunk driving, but if Nigeria was a country that appreciates the importance of forensic investigation and respects the sanctity of life, records would show that a large number of wrecks in Nigeria were due to bad roads, just as efforts would have been put in place to check deaths on the road.
Now, I cautiously trek back to the Lagos Island Hospital, Odan, the venue of Diaso’s death, which Sanwo-Olu visited on Monday, lest I be struck down by vehicles trying to avoid the surplus gorges on Lagos roads, lest another ‘brand new’ lift falls on my coconut head.
With the contradictory and disorganised way Lagos handled the ENDSARS killings, in general, and now Diaso’s killing, in particular, among some other shoddy government policies, Sanwo-Olu, in comparison with other governors of the state since 1999, especially Babatunde Fashola and Akinwunmi Ambode, is not inspiring.
Sanwo-Olu’s visit to the hospital, where Diaso died on Tuesday, August 1, 2023, due to state authorities’ negligence, was a lesson in awful PR. The visit, 13 days after the tragedy, if the governor had valid reasons to have stayed away from the hospital for that long, shouldn’t have been a show to garland the hospital.
The story of the visit published in THE PUNCH, on Monday, August 14 2023, says the governor paid an unscheduled ‘quiet’ visit to two state-owned hospitals on Lagos Island. “Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has explained why he paid unscheduled visits to Island Maternity Hospital and Lagos Island Hospital, catching medical personnel unawares,” the story reads.
After setting foot on the Lagos Island Maternity Hospital at exactly 6:35pm, and going around the facility, the statement signed by Sanwo-Olu’s Chief Press Secretary, Gboyega Akosile, says the governor proceeded to the Lagos Island Hospital. But, the time of the night Sanwo-Olu reached the Lagos Island Hospital was left out. I wonder what thorough assessment the governor expects to do at night.
The story predicates the governor’s visit on ‘the need to see things for himself and ensure staff compliance with the health palliative scheme which covers the cost of normal pregnancy delivery, Caesarean section…’ No word on the fallen doctor. Shame!
The panel set up by the government to investigate Diaso’s death is not a law court, therefore, the governor won’t contravene any law if he shows the milk of kindness by expressly speaking on the issues surrounding Diaso’s death while at the hospital.
The government’s statement might just have proclaimed Sanwo-Olu had embarked on a futile journey because the reason for his visit – to catch workers unawares – was defeated as he met workers and both hospitals in great conditions. I know a cock and bull script when I see one.
So, it means that the endless list of urgent infrastructural needs enumerated by staff and workers who bemoaned the decrepit nature of the Lagos Island Hospital, in particular, was a false alarm? By extension, it goes to say that Diaso never died. Or, that her death was a happenstance – despite begging evidence and testimonies that showed Diaso’s death could have been averted if the Sanwo-Olu government did the right thing. What did the hospital do differently within 13 days that changed its tale of woes to a song of praise?
When Sanwo-Olu visited the hospital, though late, he shouldn’t have rubbed salt in the wound by painting the picture of Eldorado. He should just have commiserated with the family, colleagues and friends of the deceased, and taken a long, hard look at the hospital, to improve the facility and its services.
At the Lagos Island Hospital, only the governor saw the fruition of his administration’s ‘interventions’, in contrast to the shameful facility doctors and other medical workers saw.
The attempt to whitewash the incident of August 1, 2023 points at the disturbing tactic of deception that is becoming the centrepiece of the Sanwo-Olu administration, exemplified by the fallouts of the ENDSARS riots.
I can hear two hearts beating together as one when I learnt Ibijoke, the wife of our dear governor, described the death of Diaso as an arrow. The arrow and whosoever shot it should be sent to Aro, I suggest.
Email: email@example.com; Facebook: @Tunde Odesola; X: @tunde_odesola.
Published in The PUNCH, on Friday, August 18, 2023.