Sunday, 13 September 2020

Captain Chika: The Hero Killed by Nigeria's failed system

Heroes Like Chika, Villains Like Nigeria

 By Leonard Akwo

A few days ago, another shattering incident occurred in Lagos, where a helicopter crash-landed into a wall separating two buildings, leaving the pilot and some crew members dead. Unlike other air crashes, there were minimal casualties. Thanks to the pilot, Captain Chika Ernest who played the hero that day. 

Upon discovering that the helicopter was out of control, he emptied the fuel tank and managed the imminent wreckage to a fenced wall instead of a building where it was meant to crash. He did so to avoid explosion upon land crashing, all to achieve the barest minimal casualties.

It worked. He saved so many persons. But when it was his turn to be saved, a Nigerian hospital, our Nigerian sick system failed him. They refused to attend to the hero. The police must bring a report first, otherwise, treatment would not begin. The doctors insisted.

Where did these doctors get such satanic, such anti-life regulations from? The last time I checked, a police report is only required when the victim escapes a crossfire, with a gun injury sustained. The victim is usually suspected to be one of the supposed criminals who may have borne the bullets of a police officer during the crossfire. But as at 13 December 2019, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) had restated that no "Police Report" should be needed before any government or privately-owned medical facility could admit and render emergency services to any victim of gunshot wounds. 

This was reported by the Guardian newspaper on the 14th of December, 2019.

Besides, Chika was never a crime suspect. He was neither shot nor jabbed with a knife. He was only an innocent Nigerian, who would be falling a victim because somewhere, somehow, money changed hands in the secret. Yet the hospital insisted, and would rather wait for a report, even against the very oath they swore to save lives against all odds. And while waiting for the Police that never came, Chika moaned and groaned in pain until he gave up the ghost. 

As the investigation continued, it was again discovered that the helicopter was in a bad shape long before it was taken aboard. As a matter of fact, the company; Quorum Aviation, was aware of the ailing state of the chopper. The owners of the aircraft too, knowing their helicopter was sick and would be rejected, bribed the company staff to accept and clear the rickety flying object for use. And so it happened.

Chika, like a lot of Nigerians, must have been a very ambitious person, whose dreams of becoming a pilot was not only to eke a life for himself and his family but to deliver the best service possible and to make his fatherland - Nigeria proud. And yes, he did his best. He gave his all for his fatherland right up to his doomsday. Three days down the line, everything just feels like nothing ever happened. Like there was never a Chika Ernest in existence. How this country manages to get along so well in the face of these reckless neglects is what startles me.

Lt. Tolulope Arotile, our sweet young terrorist buster, just a month or so ago, lost her life in the most reckless forms of death. I rather not go to the details of her death, or I might drown in the pool of my own tears. But to cut the tale short, all the issues surrounding her demise, along with the shabby investigation which began shortly, have all been swept under the carpet, and Nigeria has so seamlessly moved on, as though nothing at all happened. As if it is one of those football losses incurred between Nigeria and Argentina. This is supposed to be our first female combatant pilot - the youngest, yet the smartest of her team. We didn't even consider the sacrifices she had made for this country at that age.

I can go on and on listing a plethora of avoidable disasters we have allowed in this country; from the Bellview air crash of 22 October 2003, where over 117 Nigerians died, to the sosoliso crash a month after, where about 107 more lives were lost, and a myriad more. 

Chika died believing in his dear country, thinking that while he did his best to save lives in the worst-case scenario, his country also did their best for him. That the hospital probably didn't have a choice. That his employers did their best too. 

But can somebody call heaven, or anywhere else Chika could be right now to tell him that his own failed him? Somebody tell Chika, that while he was giving his all, scaling heights, daring the impossible, playing the hero, flying from Abuja to Port Harcourt, to Lagos, beyond the shores of Nigeria and the African continent, his employers chose money over him? They sacrificed him on the altar of greed and corruption. Can somebody please tell Chika, that while he was putting his life on the line to reduce maximum casualty, some doctors were busy insisting on some obsolete, some evil regulations at the expense of his own life? Somebody tell him that he could not have died if only his employers, the Nigerian healthcare system, like him, did their jobs excellently well. Tell him to say me hi to Tolu Article, and many other Nigerians who lost their lives only because of our sick system, and putrefying nationhood. Tell him that the best they can do for Nigeria from the other side of the river is to draw a line of battle against her enemies. Tell them not to stop fighting until Nigeria returns as the pride of the black race, until she is truly bound in freedom, peace, and Unity.

Rest on, Chika!