I hold tenaciously to the conviction that the prosperity of the citizens of a country translates to the prosperity of the nation in question. So, if we conclude that America is a developed nation, what that conclusion connotes is that Americans are developed people.
The same equation is constant for other indices of development, if we move away from considering development from the holistic standpoint. Such thinking should make a case for regarding Ghana an electricity prosperous nation, on account of her celebrating one year of uninterrupted supply of electricity. Whereas, Nigeria, in spite of her forty-five years of existence as a sovereign nation, and in spite of, to be modest, hundred of thousands of dollars injected in procuring electricity, her citizens are yet to enjoy constant supply of the commodity. Thus Nigeria can be safely described as an electricity backward nation. Those who can appreciate the quality of a dollar and its purchasing powers would understand the implications of pouring hundred of thousands of dollars into a venture yet its operation remains epileptic.
Such was the thought running through my system in the morning of May 21, 2006 when I read in the back page of Sunday Sun courtesy of Louis Odion’s column – The Bottomline – that a Nigerian, Ms Eze Elizabeth Alabi, had died in far away London as a result of a heart complications she developed after being delivered of a set of twins.
The report has it that, soon after the delivery of the twins, Elizabeth was diagnosed “with dilated cardiomyopathy. The condition caused her heart to enlarge and her only hope of survival was a heart transplant”.
A very simple health situation in a liberal, sophisticated and developed country like the United Kingdom, one would have concluded. But that was the beginning of Ms Alabi’s predicament which eventually ended her life.
According to further report on the internet which was corroborated by Louis, the UK has a well grounded health policy in form of NHS which should take care of the likes of Ms Alabi’s situation. But, because her visa had expired before she was diagnosed of a weak heart, the vibrant UK healthpolicy turned its back on the helpless 29-year-old Nigerian woman.
The circumstances of Ms Alabi’s death were pathetic. It is another topical issue; it opens yet another chapter in the case study of this macabre amalgamation called Nigeria.
Yes, it is most despicable; it is worth condemning in very strong terms. Is it not a surprise of the millennium that a country which has been ranked so high on the list of magnanimity and egalitarianism could watch as a life was needlessly terminated while some of her lawyers shouted themselves hoarse in some damned British court?
Someone should tell the relevant powers-that-be in the legal as well as the health sectors of the UK society that they had murdered sleep for refusing the spirit of humanity controlled their dispositions in Ms Alabi’s case; they may never sleep a wink again. Indeed, where is the dynamism of the British welfarism?
It is apt to vent one’s anger on a government that refuses to operate a system that lay optimal premium on the lives of human beings. What about a system, a government, which refuses to recognize human beings as the cornerstone of development talk less of providing for their well-being.
The British governments’ policy is clear on visas and health. What is the health policy of the Nigerian government?
Ms Alabi fell ill while in the UK. One is tempted to ask why she refused to return to her country, Nigeria, for treatment before her visa expired, being aware that once her visa expired she would not be taken care of by the static British health policy?
The reason is that, like every other sector of the Nigerian existence, the health care delivery system in Nigeria is non-existent. Over the years, what appears like the health policy in Nigeria, especially when life-threatening health situation requiring heart transplant or kidney transplant comes calling is public announcement: A situation where professional association or individuals sympathetic to the plight of the victim appeal for monetary donation from individuals or corporate bodies to offset the hospital bill. In other less grave situations, every Nigerian is left at the mercy of private hospitals.
It is an unadulterated shame that a country like Nigeria, a country that must have budgeted several billions of naira on health care services between 1999 and today, a country that has produced medical icons like Professors Olikoye Ransome Kuti, Adeoye Lambo, Latunde Odeku, Adeolola Adeloye, Drs, Sunny Kuku, Ken Iregbu etc is yet to fashion out and implement a health policy; it’s a big shame.
Is Ms Alabi’s death a reflection of the conspiracy between a backward economy and a developed one? Why is it that the Nigerian government has not deemed it necessary to offer a statement on the lukewarm disposition of Tony Blair’s government to the murder of this Nigerian lady? Are these people in power and authority on both sides of the divide bereft of human feelings? What exactly is flowing in their veins, blood or water?
Let us imagine a reversal of the scene: what would have happened if it were a British citizen who found herself in Nigeria with a health complications which an expired visa would not afford the Nigerian authorities to treat? What would the British embassy have done? Why is it that the Nigerian embassy remained silent while a precious Nigerian was drained of life by the insensitivity of a policy? The woman’s illness was protracted; it was also dramatised in a court, so the issue of “we did not hear about it” does not arise. If the woman had died in Nigeria, on the operating table in a Nigerian hospital and not tucked away and neglected in a British climate, while death kept pacing closer, her case would not have been this touching.
History will never forgive those who refused to take a positive decision in the case of the late Ms Eze Elizabeth Alabi.