Late last year, a church building in Akwa Ibom's state capital - Uyo collapsed. It was a sad day for Nigeria as people lost their lives in this unfortunate tragedy.
The response on Nigeria Social media was a little bit surprising. Atheists and non-religious people had a field day saying "the Nigerian god does not care about Nigerians","if God was really omnipotent, why didn't he save the people from dying or even stop the building from collapsing?"
These and many more were questions posed on the weekend of this event. Some of these questions, were borne out of grief and despair of course and some were just in attempt to mock religious people and their god.
There were few calls to the government to set up an inquiry panel to investigate the incident and subsequently prosecute perpetrators.
On the 15th of April 2013, two homemade bombs detonated 12 seconds apart near the finish line of the annual Boston Marathon. Boston is home to some of the best hospitals in the world and medical personnel, alongside bystanders responded swiftly to save lives. FBI and other security personnel went into action as quickly as they could, to arrest the perpetrators of the attack. Any clues the security operatives found that could help in getting these perpetrators arrested was shared with the general public so they could assist in the search for the criminals. Eventually one of the bombers died while trying to escape,the other one was arrested and was subsequently prosecuted.
The number of lives lost was recorded, people who sustained life changing injuries were recorded, people who survived were also recorded. No details were hidden, no speculation of numbers of people that were affected. Accurate numbers were given.
In Nigeria on the other hand, no information on accurate numbers of lives lost, injured and survived. It's all speculation. A pastor of the said church, who was supposed to be ordained as Bishop, supposedly knew that the building was not in good condition. It was alleged that he ignored "a stop work order" by the Uyo Capital City Development Authority (UCCDA) when the building was still in foundation stage of its construction. He ignored another one in 2014 and subsequently the building collapsed in 2016. What was done to him? Nothing!! No news of his arrest or prosecution till date.
He instead implored people to pray and blamed the devil for the unfortunate incident.
I remembered Fela Durotoye's Facebook post on the night of the Boston Bombing, he commended the medical personnel and people who swiftly responded to the incident, and added this
"Fact is - Evil people carry out bad things all over the world. But the culture of excellence, preparation, readiness, training, equipment, co-ordination and team work can save so many innocent lives when bad things happen.
So..........We may not be able to prevent the next tragic act of evil......but we can invest more in training and equipping our emergency response teams of the police, firefighters, medical response."
And I will just add that in the Western world, they tend to investigate the cause of man-made and natural incidents and find means to prevent it from reoccurring or work towards reducing the negative impact it will have on people as opposed to praying, blaming the devil and swerving responsibilities.
My husband told me about a documentary he watched weeks ago about the 1985 Bradford city stadium fire - I cannot bring myself to watch that documentary because of all the horrid details he shared with me. It was a scary and tragic incident. It started from a small fire and because of the wooden stands at the stadium at that time and some rubbish underneath some of the stadium's stands, it erupted into a huge one. This fire according to reports lasted just four minutes but the devastation caused was immense. Lives were lost, injured and there were survivors, all recorded accurately. Medical, security personnel and bystanders responded swiftly to the incident.
One of the survivors was Mathew Wildman, he suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and that meant he needed crutches to walk and was helped out of the stadium by a fellow fan - David Hustler. He said "I have never known anything like it, either before, or since. Everybody in the city was devastated, but there was an amazing number of volunteers. I still have terrible memories of the day, but it is the humanity of those that helped us that I reflect on"
They didn't just mourn after this incident or bury their heads in the sand. There was no party for survivors, just urgent medical care. An inquiry was set up and this led to the introduction of new legislation to improve safety at all football stadiums in the UK. Wooden stands and smoking was banned in all sports ground in the UK. The Bradford city club was found to be partially responsible for this incident as they had received letters before the fire incidence highlighting the need for improvement of the stands in the event of a fire outbreak. They had to pay compensation to the families of those who lost their lives or were injured. Till date, there are calls for a new inquiry into the fire incident citing reasons as times have changed and fire investigation techniques have advanced compared to the 80's, another reason was that the inquiry lasted just two weeks and was considered too fast.
Something my husband said that caught my attention and made me ponder about for a bit was the fact that at the end of the documentary, names of people who died was displayed on the screen. I had to conclude that and I say this with all humility and respect to those who lost their lives - the death of every one of them was not in vain.
Every rainy season, residents of a particular area in Lagos state, Nigeria complain about flood issues. Works are sometimes carried out in the summer in preparation for the rainy season but they are mostly substandard. And these badly constructed roads are a recipe for disaster. If something horrible happens, I do not think it is God's fault as some will like to allude to. It is the people's fault who decided to cut corners and do substandard work.
Thinking back to the weekend of the Uyo incident, I could not help but think why people could not see that God was not the problem here but the people. We all serve the same God, after all the Western world introduced God to us and he gave us wisdom to be able to discern right from wrong and freewill to do as we deemed fit.
God gave us and people in the Western world free will to do as we please, as it is with happenings in life, some people use their free will for good and some use it for evil.
I watched a video of Trevor Noah's book review that took place in London last year, and he read a part of his book and I could not help but ponder about it for a while.
"My grandmother always told me that she loved my prayers. She believed my prayers were more powerful, because I prayed in English. Everyone knows that Jesus, who's white, speaks English. The Bible is in English. Yes, the Bible was not written in English but came to South Africa in English so to us, it's English. Which made my prayers the best prayers because English prayers get answered first.
How do we know this? Look at white people. Clearly they're getting through to the right person".
Add to that Matthew 19 vs 14. "Suffer little children to come unto me, Jesus said "For theirs is the kingdom of heaven". "So if a child is praying in English? To White Jesus? That's a powerful combination right there".
It is funny but sad, because this right here is still our present reality.
We all serve the same God, whose only begotten son is Jesus just like the Westerners. The only difference between us and them is that while we pray our problems away- which is foolish by the way, they tackle their problems head on. They strive for excellence and comfort and are willing to go the extra mile to achieve that.
We are blessed in Nigeria with the three types of resources: Human, natural and Capital. If only those at the helm of affairs could utilise these resources for the good of their citizens, Nigeria too will be able to stand almost as tall as other Western countries. It sickens me when we receive foreign aid because I believe we do not need it.
We must demand accountability, transparency, justice from our leaders, have high and realistic expectations from them. Do our part by being law abiding citizens.
I will end this post with a statement by Fela Durotoye -
Let us all commit to a lifestyle of excellence in all we do as we deliver the future. As we have seen excellence saves lives.