Gone in Their Prime: Victim(s) of a Failing State

Today, I use the remembrance of my late brother to tell a Nigerian story. Tomorrow, March 7 would make it exactly three years that the painful clutches of death robbed us of our most beloved eldest brother, Deacon Feyishola Folarin (1967-2008). It was a dark day. Everything happened like in a nightmare that one would naturally wish away, or like in a tragic film that usually saddens the viewer until he’s placated that it’s only a make-believe that would culminate in the protagonists resurfacing after all. For us, the demise of “Professor”, as he was fondly called by all, was not to be a mere imagination that we sadly wished it was. He left Ibadan for Lagos in the early hours of that morning, without any sneak view of what lay ahead. As the Nissan bus ran into one of the many ditches on the highway, one of the front tyres burst and an auto-crash resulted. The man, Feyi, departed in his prime!

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Many homes in Nigeria have suffered similar fate; they have been thrown into avoidable and undeserved mourning. Their prized relatives, breadwinners, most beloved siblings, and so forth leave home quietly, only to be crushed by a car, die in a road crash, or felled by a police bullet. They say “bye” and don’t ever return to be given a welcome hug.

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In the case of Deacon Feyi, he was a victim of the “Nigerian circumstance”. Prior to his travelling, he had left the home-front in a great state, excited about his journey that would afford him a cocktail of opportunities: see his siblings, mum, friends, and carry out some steps to firm up loose ends on his pet-project (the new school he’s just started). We were all expecting “Professor” and were rehearsing how we were going to congratulate him and sing high praises together for the breakthroughs in his life.

Deacon Feyi had come a long way in striving to establish himself in life. As the first-born, he had paid his price and borne the worst burdens of manhood. Among all of us, he suffered most, and tried almost everything to be a man. He had worked as a DJ, at a point he was a factory worker, he tried the job of a dealer in livestock, he taught little children from door to door. He then worked unpaid at the Daily Times doxycycline cost at walmart xenical for cheapbuy xenical uk doxycycline to buy in uk . He later became Media Manager to Wale Thompson, one of Nigeria’s leading Juju singers at the time. But this did not lead him anywhere. My brother hustled to have a life. There were too many disappointments. With three children and enormous responsibilities, he moved abroad for a change. But again the experience wasn’t pleasant and so he returned home.

Back home, he picked up the bits and pieces until luck shone on him and God turned his fortunes around. It was time to smile again. It was the set time to break-forth. All was working out well for him, his family and school. He had gotten the required leverage to begin to plan for the future too. We were all happy for him and upbeat about the prospect of seeing him do what his peers were doing: buying his first car, building his own house, and sending his children to the best schools. Yes, we were all feeling for him because he’s such a pleasant, kind and extremely generous person. He had a heart of gold. He was very caring, loving and one of the most reasonable men in the world. Brother Feyi was above all, very godly, quite intelligent and full of divine wisdom.

We had to feel for him because we remembered when he rushed to our parents’ home one day to share the good news of the great ideas he had about his new school, and how he excitedly carried the computer dad offered him for the school’s use. When we remembered all those unbelievably hard times, we got upbeat about his turnaround. But when we reflect on the sour and harsh twist on March 7, we feel a pain that touches the marrows. We wish there was no March 7. We wish he never travelled that day. We wish he missed that rickety bus. We wish we had a responsible Olabisi Onabanjo Teaching Hospital. We wish….we wish…

In the morning of March 7, 2008, somewhere in Sagamu, Ogun State, along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the bus in which he was, turned over several times. Feyi sustained a head injury and hung on to life. When what he got was a most irresponsible medical attention at Olabisi Onabanjo Teaching Hospital (OOUTH) in Sagamu, he gave up. According to the Policeman who took him from the accident scene to OOUTH, Feyi was the most conscious of the injured passengers. He was able to mention his name, mention my name and that of my younger sister’s to call for immediate rescue. Indeed it was after he called my sister that she in turn alerted me of the accident. By the time I tried his line on my way to Sagamu en route Lagos to pick my other brother, the officer that picked his line dropped ice-cold water down my spine: “he’s passed on” he said resignedly.

We found out that the medical team on duty that Friday afternoon at OOUTH were demanding 10,000 naira before anything could be done even as he was losing blood from the deep head injury. As Feyi repeatedly said “please help me not to die”, assuring them that his siblings would waste no time in settling the bills once they arrived, the doctors and nurses simply ignored him saying he wouldn’t die as long as he made the deposit of the 10,000 naira. But, the man died!

We were too shocked, too grieved to make noise or trouble about OOUTH’s incompetence and professional misconduct. However, I owe it a duty to join other well meaning Nigerians to expose the irresponsibility of our government and the so called essential services providers like the health sector who have more appetite for lucre than humanity. These have cost Nigeria innocent, promising and hardworking citizens. Brother Feyi could have been saved. He could have been alive today to build lives through his school; who knows, he could have emerged as Nigeria’s President. After all, the likes of Obasanjo and Abiola had been written off before they left rags for statesmanship. If they had been wasted in their prime, it would have been a huge loss to Nigeria. But Nigeria has wasted too many persons in their prime. Who knows, Feyi who was already totally sold out to Christ before the incident, could have become another Adeboye or Oyedepo. He could have been around today to celebrate his 44th birthday.

Dr. Folarin, a member of the Editorial Board of National Mirror, is the pioneer Coordinator of the International Office, Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria.

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