A million ways to die in Nigeria, by Suleiman Hassan Gimba Esq


Evincing the Underlap

This article got its title from the blood bath that Nigeria has become and more originally from Seth McFarlane’s “A Million Ways to Die in the West.” Set in the American frontier in 1882, the movie shows the unpredictably of life at a time when “anything that is not you wants to kill you.”

Back to reality and fast forward to modern-day, life in Nigeria is the same or even worse than it was in the American frontier almost three centuries ago.

Successive governments have failed to discharge their primary function of protecting the lives of Nigerians.

The cumulative failure has overseen a new height for social unrest, kickstarted by the protests and mass arrests at the Lekki Tollgate, and capped by the gruesome killing of tradesmen in Shasha after a vagary from their once glorious host.

Their crime is not the violation of any law or even cultural values, it is of being Hausa people that dared to look for a means of livelihood far from home; it is why things went south for them!

The sentence, carried out by the fuel and machetes of their host will except for divine intervention remain unresolved as has many before it.

As usual, the voices springing up from both sides of the divide are different and shrouded in ethnic sentiments.

Our standpoints on such issues seem to always come not from the angle that screams patriotism but from sentiments that should have been secondary.

Raising the question if any of us owes any allegiance to this country or if in fact, all those episodes with the National Anthem and Pledge on the Assembly Ground were a matter of factly in vain, just like the labour of our heroes past might turn out to be.

One nation bound in freedom, peace and unity indeed!

Yet Nigeria has survived all doomsday predictions but I fear this is as far as we can get with each people’s nuances viewed as an existential threat.

Acculturation is a taboo and belonging to a tribe is the fastest and biggest unprovoked killer of Nigerians.

Nigeria’s three-year civil war that led to the deaths of up to two million is still widely considered to have been caused by tribal strife for power and control. Since the civil war, there have been numerous clashes between minority tribes and between the powerhouses that are Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. With Lagos, Jos, Kaduna, and Delta as notorious hotbeds. It has become a norm for a dominant tribe to issue quit notice on settlers and if they don’t comply, then they can be killed and their properties destroyed with little or no repercussion.

Second on the list of things that could kill you in Nigeria is your religious belief, and we are not talking about giving your life to appease the gods or God. No, the only reason you have to die is that you serve a certain God, gods or you simply don’t believe in the existence of any deity.

There is a superfluity of deaths caused by lack of religious tolerance backed by sardonic preaching and evangelism, sectarian violence, blasphemy and hard to understand shootings at and bombings of churches and mosques.

Around the world, people have developed a habit of casual travelling for tourism, exploration and fun.

Here, you only travel if and only if it is necessary.

The Nigerian road has prematurely taken the lives of so many, and mostly for no fault of theirs potholes, lack of roadworthiness of commercial vehicles, reckless driving, unqualified drivers, youthful exuberance, and even the authorities when one fails to pay his right of passage contribute to make the Nigerian road an abattoir.

Kidnappers and bandits reign supreme on some roads too, leading to so many deaths. Plus there are head–chopping savages in villages along express roads.

Another way of dying in Nigeria is by simply trying to earn a living, as we have seen in Shasha.

In this country, NEPA staff have been killed in ghettos for “cutting the light”, self-appointed NEPA officers (also known as light fixers) have died for being ill-trained and ill-equipped, uber rides have been ordered in ghettos with the drivers killed and the vehicles stolen, farmers have been killed by terrorists and bandits are killing farmers that don’t pay “harvest fees”, bus drivers, and finally traders for being far from home.

Naturally, one on a quest for knowledge gets the respect and sympathies of everyone; it is why school buses get a quick and free pass at checkpoints and corp members get all the kindness from members of the society because national service aside, they are seen as symbols of excellence that have gone through the education system and excelled.

However, things are changing in schools and for the corp members too. Violent clashes between SS2 and SS3 students in public schools have become the norm rather than the exception, with such avoidable acts taking the lives of students at important stages in their lives. Boko Haram have killed students by the hundreds. Cultism in higher institutions is an equally potent predator.

They say small diseases can’t kill an African man, they lie! I think this is a bit farfetched as diseases and health conditions that should be consigned to the dustbin of history, continue to consign Nigerians to the dustbin of history. Cholera, Measles, Meningitis, Tuberculosis and Yellow Fever are causing havoc despite the availability of vaccines and millions spent in government campaigns. Malaria, maternal mortality and child mortality are also very high. Small diseases can’t kill an African man? Think. Again.

The mother of all wars politics! Politics is a burgeoning palette with varied players, uniting people of different ideologies, tribes and creed in ballot box snatching and other forms of election malpractices that can sometimes lead to the death of citizens trying to exercise their civic responsibilities.

Political leaders, INEC officials and security personnel are sometimes victims too and human sacrifice is still a thing in most twenty-first century Nigerian societies.

This is the result of allowing hunter-gatherer politicians to fill the political space, no wonder power is called a do or die affair.

Survive all these and you know what else could kill you? The damn hospital! Yeah, right… the place where you are supposed to get treatment and all!

The purlieu at the hospital often ends up with a “had I known feeling” by family members of patients who have died because of poor facilities, recklessness of health personnel, wrong diagnosis, fake drugs, quack doctors and fake herbal healers (who some see as a viable alternative to orthodox medicine.)

One can avoid travelling, attending public religious gatherings or tribal events, going to school, finding a means of livelihood engaging in political activities, relying on the hospital or traditional healers for medication, minding his business or even getting married and still die a Nigerian death.

The Nigerian death from staying at home is one with a home delivery option that has befallen many, with Boko Haram, bandits, militants, armed robbers and in some cases even spouses playing the role of gracious executioners.

Truly life here is akin to that of a chicken, for when the egg cracks and the chick gets out, the fight for life starts for the little grains, to be close to its mother as protection because anything that is not it wants to kill it, for mating rights and to be in a tag-team because it needs all the help it can get.

This anthesis best depicts the situation in Nigeria today stray far from home and you will feel like the 54.81 years life expectancy in Nigeria has been greatly exaggerated, stay at home and you might end up feeling the same way; life in Nigeria is “short, nasty and brutish”, it is the antithesis of the peace and unity inscribed on our coat of arms.

Other ways of dying in this country can be by just minding your business and by getting married if the couples don’t recognise and fulfil bandits’ prima nocta rights. Feel free to add yours.


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