The Cardinal Sin of Silence

by Chinyere Ugomma Eze-Nliam

“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards out of men”-Abe Lincoln

I am very uninterested in ideologies. I belong neither to the right nor left, neither democrat nor republican, neither radical nor activist. I am however of only one school of thought: JUSTICE as the first condition of humanity and the basis of society. Someone who sees something wrong should change it with their hands, if not, then with their tongues, if not then with their hearts. I choose to do so with my pen. When we occupied Nigeria house and subsequently the UN in New York on January 10-14 in support of the Occupy Nigeria movement, I had decided it was high time I put my mouth where my pen had been. Now I don’t know where to put what or even how. I am tired of talking, writing and occupying.

The basic tenet of nationhood is the guarantee of lives and security of persons and property, a task that has escaped the woefully short attention span of the powers that be. It is for this reason that Biafra filed for divorce exactly 45 years ago. Nothing seems to have changed since then. We still have a government that is enamoured by trivia, that still leaves the substance to chase the ever fleeting shadows, a set of undesirable elements who pursue rats when their mansions are on fire.

At the risk of sounding pedantic, the country has become a superlative in every form of vice; kidnapping in the east, boko haram in the north, militants in the south, flying coffins in the air, death traps on the road, men of the underworld at every nook and cranny, bribery, corruption, nepotism, tribalism etc. The list appears endless. Although I submit that it is rather utopian to expect complete objectivity when discussing issues that rankle our national consciousness, many Nigerians are in agreement that these should constitute the priorities of any government in power but alas, our dear country’s preoccupation borders on frivolities and minutiae to wit; renaming universities that their children will never be caught in dead or alive, increasing tariff for an increasingly epileptic power supply and wait for this, sending an astronaut in space in the year 2015.

The events of this past weekend have been unpleasantly familiar for many Nigerians: Dana Air Crash in Lagos killing all 153 passengers on Sunday June 3; Allied Air Cargo Nigeria Crash landing in Ghana killing 10 people in a commercial bus on Saturday June 2; bomb Blast in Bauchi State early hours of Sunday June 3 killing more than 12 people; multiple car crash Lagos – Ibadan Expressway involving 25 Vehicles. All this happened within 48 hrs. This is reminiscent of another unfortunate period in the recent past when Nigerian aircrafts were falling out of the skies like torrential rainfall. Within 2005-2006, there was a record of 3 fatal air disasters: Bellview airlines from Lagos to Abuja on 22 October 2005, 117 dead, crashed 3 minutes after takeoff; Sosoliso Airlines from Abuja to Port Harcourt on 10 December 2005- 108 dead of which 60 were school children, crashed while attempting landing; ADC Airlines from Abuja to Sokoto on 29 October 2006, 96 people dead, crashed 76 seconds after takeoff.

The Nigerian problem is that of apathy and lackadaisical attitude towards issues that do not personally concern us. The days leading to the Dana crash, it was observed by some passengers who had travelled on the ill fated flight to Lagos from Abuja that the aircraft had serious faults and was in dire need of maintenance. When the plane finally reached Abuja, everyone jumped out praising God for a safe journey. No one on that flight ever bothered to report the incident or even take to Facebook, Twitter et al to narrate their experiences. Social media is not just about updates, pictures and gossip, it is also an avenue to impact positive changes. If all the other passengers who had all experienced emergency landings in the same aircraft in Calabar, Uyo and Abuja, had taken bothered to speak out against this wicked act of inhumanity occasioned by colossal greed, lives might have been saved. Sadly, everyone went their separate ways with attitudes that bordered on “wetin concern me, it’s not my portion, I’ve arrived safely so what’s my own”.

I do not in any way excuse the ineptitude and inefficiency of the corrupt system in which we find ourselves immersed. Neither do I seek reprieve for the management of the Dana Airlines who in cutting corners to maximize profits rendered children orphans, turned wives into widows and completely eliminated an entire family of six, leaving behind a sorrowful trail of tears, blood and chaos. I am simply of the view that it behoves every Nigerian to be more vocal and outspoken about critical issue sans fear or favour, to call a spade a spade instead of a farming tool, to speak out no matter whose ox is gored. When i see the post crash headlines like “Dana Air – A Troubled Airline with a Checkered History of Failures” CHANNELSTV AUDIO: “We Were Forced to Fly the Faulty Plane”-Dana Airline Official’, it becomes apparent that this incident was systematically engineered and not just an unfortunate tragedy and yet there was a thick conspiracy of silence.

The haunting words of John Pepper Clark in his celebrated poem “The Casualties” sound almost prescient. “The casualties are not only those who are dead; they are well out of it. The casualties are not only those who are wounded, though they await burial by installment. The casualties are not only those who have lost Person or property…” The bitter truth is that unless the current trend is reversed, Nigerians await death by installment. We are all a disaster waiting to happen. Did I hear someone say it’s not my portion?

Siddon dey look like dog name o.

You may also like

6 comments July 4, 2012 - 6:00 pm

Thanks dear.. Glad u see my point

Reply July 4, 2012 - 5:58 pm

Thanks Grace. God has already helped us o. let us now help our fellow Nigerians. If you see something, say something. i believe that it is the slogan for the NYPD..should be ours as well..

Reply July 4, 2012 - 5:56 pm

Thank you my sister.. We are too standoffish about issues that are not directly related to us. am glad u see my point.

Chioma June 11, 2012 - 9:27 am

Chichi my sister you really hit the nail on the head. There are good gossip and bad gossip, just as you said, if people saw and knew that they had a narrow escape on this flight, they should have broadcasted it by word of mouth or even on facebook (this is a good gossip), Most of these crash victims are young and on facebook and hopefully would have gotten it on time and such gossip would have saved lives. It is time we all get involved and stop this “i no concern me attitude”, it could have been us or our loved one in this crash. Let us all be each other’s keeper, please!!!!

Grace June 7, 2012 - 4:16 pm

I also bared my mind when I read that some citizens of the country had recently flown in the aircraft and had observed the challenge with the plane. Yes, Blackberry broadcast or other social media is not merely to pass gossips but necessary information such as this, which could/may have saved the innocent should that perished in the crash. At least such information would have sensitised people from patronizing the airline and would have moved the management to maintain it’s planes. God help us in Nigeria

Enema June 7, 2012 - 8:20 am

Good Job Chichi. Well said.


Leave a Comment