Donkey ride – The Nation

  • Taking women in labour to hospital on donkeys is crude and dangerous

It seems Nigeria might just win the unenviable award of the country with the most recorded bizarre incidents.

At a time when one assumes one has heard, seen or experienced the most outrageous incidents, daily reports from across the country put a lie to everything.

The News Agency of Nigeria’s (NAN) report that residents of some communities in Bauchi State in Northern Nigeria have resorted to transporting the sick and pregnant women  to hospitals on donkeys and ox-drawn trucks due to bad roads sounds so incredible in a 21st century nation that lays claim to democracy.

However, this is a factual report and should be seen as failure of governance. Sadly though, the state is not alone in this regrettable situation of infrastructural decay.

Even though there seems to be a dearth of outrage given the plethora of tragic situations that seem to be mentally exhausting for the citizens, we condemn with all the moral strength we can muster the fact that governments seem very lethargic about addressing real issues like health, infrastructure and education, leading to huge human losses. Various dysfunctional agencies of government have caused serious loss of lives.

It is a fact that most federal and state governments seem too fixated on the cities and state capitals for the very little infrastructural development that can even hardly pass for a holistic policy execution of impact on citizens.

For governments and their agencies at all levels to continue to sing the ‘hard-to-reach’ escapist mantra for their dereliction of duty in the provision of infrastructure for citizens, no matter where they live, is one of the most puerile excuses that can ever be given.

Because we claim to run a democracy which is a government of the people by the people and for the people, it is contradictory in principle for politicians to get to the axiomatic ‘hard-to-reach’ places in the country during campaigns, get votes from the people, win elections and then suddenly abandon the people.

The decay in the health sector has claimed and is still claiming lives of Nigerians in many ways and the maternal and child mortality deaths remain one of the highest in the world.

The reason for those deaths are not, as Shakespeare said, in our stars but in ourselves. It is hard to imagine a country so unconcerned about the health and welfare of its citizens.

Conveying pregnant women to hospital on donkeys in 21st century Nigeria is one of the unkindest cuts to women and their roles as the people that carry and nurture the future generation.

Pregnancy period in any woman’s life is the most delicate period and countries that value their future provide the most basic services for the comfort of women, especially at this time.

On a good day, to even stay in the most luxurious and best hospitals does little to assuage the pain of pregnancy, labour and delivery.

To let a woman or any sick person to be so conveyed to some of the most ill-equipped clinics/hospitals seems unimaginable.

The fact that some EU and UNICEF agencies have medical outreach to some of the supposedly ‘hard-to-reach’ communities in Bauchi State and some other states in the country more than explains the value the governments in the country put on the lives and welfare of citizens.

We are equally appalled at the sense of negligence by both state houses of assembly and the National Assembly across the country.

Those ‘hard-to-reach’ areas across Nigeria have representatives at both state and national levels. What are their duties to their constituents? How do they lobby for infrastructural facilities for their constituencies? How do they perform oversight functions and what laws do they make to protect their people?

The Bauchi State government must not waste further time in trying to address this very parochial means of transport that enhances death of citizens and the unborn and their mothers.

The world cannot understand this very sad situation in a 21stcentury world. It says a lot about the value the state puts on the lives of the citizens. Other states too must act to stem the ugly tide.

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