THIS piece is a reply to another reply, an obvious affirmation of the dictum that every action is a reaction to another action. If anything is ever negatively interesting and undesirably edifying, it is the reaction by Mr Adesegun Ogundeji, the Director, Strategy Centre, Lagos State’s Ministry of Information and Strategy, to one Dauda Busari’s constructive satire titled ‘May Lagos never happen to you.’
Rather than engage in a wild, baseless attack of what is essentially unwarranted and unjustifiable self-defence, I will hereby subject Ogundeji’s response to Busari to some critical scrutiny to the best of my modest competence in logical evaluation. Please pardon, my motive is nothing but to make Lagos work for all.
Ogundeji, at the onset, tries to justify the closure of a Primary Health Centre at about midday by saying that: “…That not all PHC run 24 hours…”
Ouch! In the 21st Century Mega City Lagos, it’s nothing but awful and self-indicting for a government to boldly announce that not all centres of grassroots health care delivery, the most proximate and easily accessible for, at least first aid care, operate round the clock.
Or, isn’t it contradictory for Ogundeji to establish the fact that not all the PHCs open their doors 24/7, but still proceed to advise the public to locate and register in PHCs in their location for easy access in times of emergencies?
Furthermore, Ogundeji proudly flaunted the obviously pragmatic and ordinarily commendable health insurance initiative of the Lagos State Government. Fine and good!
Outside the four walls of the Alausa Secretariat and other establishments of the Lagos State Government, how much of informative, persuasive and even facilitating advocacy and advertisement has the Lagos State Government done to let a populace to whom health insurance is not just unknown but nonexistent due to Nigeria that has happened to them for over 60 years?
Secondly, is paid health insurance ever a substitute for free health care in a poverty-stricken society that cannot be reasonably said to be anywhere close to truly eradicating poverty?
Again, which developed country in the world developed into a universal and accessible health care system via reliance on a paid health insurance scheme at its evolutionary stage?
Perhaps the worst and most depressing aspect of Ogundeji’s piece lies in the mental arsenals he deployed to defend the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital staff.
He says, “I also do not agree with the assertion that the staff and doctors at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital were lackadaisical in handling the case. It is just that the case was a bad one”.
Although Ogundeji never alluded to being physically present at the scene or claimed to have conducted the least probing investigation, he spoke with swagger, denying that the LASUTH staff ever acted as Busari alleged.
Rather than being circumspect by initiating a probe of Busari’s allegation, the government, through its spokesperson, hastily concluded that Busari must have lied.
Ogundeji sums up the reason: “Truth be told, LASUTH is a highly rated tertiary health institution in Nigeria with state of the art equipment and staff who are very passionate and dedicated to life-saving”.
Yes, we can reasonably grant that LASUTH is indeed what Ogundeji painted it to be, principally because even the chronically blind can see the shining crown on the head of King LASUTH.
Indeed, LASUTH is metaphorically a mono-one-eyed resident who, naturally and unquestionably, must assume kingship in an all-blind community. In fact, I personally hold LASUTH in high esteem and never hesitate to recommend it to people even outside Lagos, purely due to its comparative but not absolute edge.
But I think Ogundeji is simply too rash to rush to hasty generalisation, as he wrongly covers the entire staff of LASUTH, supposed humans, with the umbrella of infallibility.
So, this highly ranked establishment is peopled by angels who can only, at all times, do as God commands them to do.
Surely, as new characters gain entry vide varied employment contracts, any establishment, however well-shaped by its founding fathers and staff, will have its known corporate character affected in one way or the other by its newcomers.
And, to dispense with euphemism, I will be blunt to assert that lackadaisical characters are never a stranger in our hospitals all over Nigeria. They are indeed the commonplace symbol that announces to every visitor that he has truly entered the premises of a typical Nigerian hospital.
On the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority issue, my take is that Ogundeji only sweated to defend what is while arguing against what ought to be as postulated by patriotic Busari.
Yes, the law is the law. It is what it is; what exists to be followed by every citizen who is subject to punitive measures dictated by it in any case of its breach. Again, this is fine and good.
However, I feel Ogundeji tactically deployed officialdom to deliberately veer off the ethical line of argument projected by Busari.
Of course, the whole world, not only Nigerians or Lagosians, is acquainted with what the Lagos State Offender Penalty (LSOP42A) stipulates with regards to traffic offenders. Busari, as a true representative of Lagosians and Nigerians in general, only voiced concrete feedback on the Law which Ogundeji only quoted to fault its criticism. How on earth can a conclusion be its own premise, evidence or underlying reason?
Perhaps our government officials need to be told that Nigerians and the entire world populace have never been fooled by their gimmicks when it comes to the fixing of punitive fine rates.
Rather than serve as a tool of deterrence as Ogundeji opined, a fine that is typically unaffordable to the masses due to the general income level, if deeply examined, is, intrinsically and ironically, a tool that makes lawlessness attractive. This is simply because it, indirectly, makes intensive pleading, bribery and, at the extreme level, violent resistance, a helpless recourse.
Or, how can a citizen who even earns as ‘high’ as a universally paltry sum of Nigerian N60,000 afford to pay the relatively gargantuan sum of N20,000 for a single traffic offence, particularly in a multiple offence situation?
If not, why is Busari’s concern about the loss of revenue by the government due to alleged flurry of illegal activities by some officials not so important as to warrant a secret invitation to the whistleblower to come forth to help with more details? Rather, in spite of the highly risky level of patriotism that Busari has exhibited, a virtue that is a rarity amongst my people, the appreciation meal he has been served through Ogundeji has been a portion of poison for willful suicide – that he should help the government by naming names of erring LASTMA unit and officers on the page of a national newspaper. Ouch43! Can Ogundeji himself do exactly as he has suggested to this well-meaning compatriot of his?
And, for God’s sake, Busari made it clear in his write-up that their appeal was for the officials to leave the man so that traffic sanity would be restored at the scene. This, I am convinced, aligns with the official position of Alausa publicly expressed severally, to prevent the kind of incidents that sometimes lead to the death of innocent pedestrians and other road users arising from hot chase of offenders by LASTMA or any other officials.
In conclusion, I will only advise that our government and its officials learn and cultivate the golden and invaluable lesson in the Yoruba adage that admonishes every human being thus – Be swift to listen but be hesitant to respond.
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