Jnr. Pope: Tragedy On The Water And Nation\'s Wake-Up Call

Lucky Ihanza
12 Apr 2024

A stark paradox exists in the heart of Nigeria, a land where education and cosmopolitan ideals flutter like banners in the wind. We boast of enlightenment, yet our roots remain entrenched in the primitive soil of religiosity and superstition: we are still largely primitive, highly religious, and annoyingly superstitious; and we can always explain it away with flamboyant verbosity or "big, big grammar." At times, the fingers of blame point towards our educational framework; at other times, they wag at the peculiar brand of spirituality that permeates our essence. But all the time, I blame you, yes, you, since you have refused to educate yourself about life – through the university of life. I blame you for shunning the lessons life painstakingly attempts to teach outside the structured walls of classrooms and finding yourselves swimming in ignorance.


Yesterday's tragedy on the river serves as a mournful ballad, a requiem for souls lost due to oversight, negligence, primitiveness, superstition, carelessness, irresponsibility, and ignorance. This tragic symphony could have been averted. It shows the inevitable journey that we, as a people, as a nation, and as humans, have yet to embark upon.


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- To the Government: Let our rivers and seas not become graveyards for the innocent. Every vessel, whether for commerce or pleasure, must provide the passengers with lifejackets enough for every soul aboard. The same vigilance applied to our roads through Road Safety Officials, VIO, etc., must extend to our waters. You don’t have to be a commercial driver before road safety officials will stop you and ask for all the safety paraphernalia, including a driver’s license. The same should be done on our seas and rivers. We don’t have to wait for anybody to die before making this a law and ensuring that offenders are punished.


- To the Government, Yet Again: Boat Rider’s License: It appears every Tominsi, Dike, and Haruna can just get a boat or canoe and put it on the river for commercial services. Who guards the gate? Who deems them worthy to operate a boat on our rivers? Who checks whether the person has obtained a Boat Rider’s License? Who issues the license? What qualifies one to be a boat rider? Many questions!


- To Actors’ Guild, or Whoever is Responsible: For every script, whether it will be acted on land or in water, kindly mandate that a checklist of safety vows accompany every script. Like a solemn pact, these checklists - life jackets, professional divers, life insurance, medical guardians - must be sworn before the tale unfolds. All the boxes must be checked before the contract is signed. So, I’m proposing that as an appendix to every contract given to an actor/actress, these safety components MUST be attached before the place of signature so that they are ticked before signature. This should be taken seriously by the Actors’ Guild or whatever agency is responsible. It should be a law and offenders must be punished.


- To The Minister of, and Commissioners for Education: It’s time to talk to the Shepherds of Minds. Our schools, temples of knowledge, must evolve with the times. Teach our youth not just to dream, but to save lives. Instead of teaching what is no longer relevant in our schools, life-saving skills like CPR should not only be taught but knowledge of it be assessed during exams so that we are sure the message has been passed. Imagine on the scene of an accident, a crowd of young people was present, and no single person could administer CPR! Just imagine the global shame and embarrassment.


- To Content Creators or Skit Makers: The creators of laughter and thoughts. Remember, in jest, there is truth, and in satire, education. This is a call to action. Create funny but educative content about life-saving skills like CPR – as your CSR. Wield your craft as a beacon of knowledge, illuminating life-saving arts with the warmth of humour. Thank you in advance.


- To the Heralds of Faith and ‘Religious People’: Impart upon your flock the wisdom to embrace practicality before the divine. Teach them that faith and intellect must dance in harmony, that help sought in time saves lives. It’s time to start teaching your followers to be responsible and to first use their brains before resorting to ‘spiritual’ help. Teach them that one plus one is equal to two, whether in Nigeria or in China. Teach them to seek medical help first – and on time. Teach them the importance of early diagnosis and early access to medical services. Teach them that whatever they have for ‘Ceasar’ can be given to Ceasar later – after the person has been resuscitated and responding to treatment. Your Ceasar can wait.


- To YOU, yes, YOU: Always resist the demo.nic urge to create content from everything. Let not your first instinct be to capture pain through a lens, but to extend a hand in aid. You went to school. Use your brain for once. Learn how to do CPR. Learn how to administer First Aid. Learn how to swim. Learn how to swim. Learn how to be a human being. Use your head. Use your brains. Avoid superstition. Use your brains. Stop following your religious leaders like a zom.bie. Use your brai.ns. As I said before, imagine a group of young people on the scene of an accident and YOU, yes, YOU could not administer CPR! For what greater shame than to stand amidst a crisis, a phone in hand, while the essence of life slips like sand through your fingers? Aren’t you ashamed of yourself that the only thing you could do was record it for content’s sake?


May the souls of all those who died rest in peace. And may their loss be the lighthouse that guides us to safer shores.

Kindly #share this so it gets 'to whom it may concern.'

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