This is no breaking news as it happened on Tuesday, March 13 but it IS news, nevertheless.
The last time Ibadan was under lock-down – rather, the last time I wrote about being in a locked-down Ibadan – because of the visit of a super-important being was when retired General Obasanjo visited Ibadan in 2006. That essay, “A return to medical excellence as patients take their own supplies to ‘newly equipped UCH’”, was presented to readers of my Sunday column for The Nation on Sunday in December 2006. Times may have changed but in Nigeria, change for the worse IS a destination that is as certain as death.
Here is the conclusion of that 2-part essay in January 2007:
[“Medical excellence …”: Conclusion
I think President Obasanjo can still ensure that UCH and other government hospitals return to partial excellence even in these dying days of his presidency just as I believe he can still have potable water and level of power supply improved. A detour may be necessary, though, from the usual route of government supply. The president was once quoted as giving high commendation to the National Hospital at Abuja after a medical check up, comparing it to one he had just had abroad. It is true that all top government employees, most political office holders – at government expenses – are flown abroad even to have an appendix removed. May be this is why they’ve never given much thought to seeing to accessibility of affordable decent health care to the populace. And no wonder, the South African outfit(s) providing air ambulance service for the critically ill from Nigeria is/are smiling all the way to the bank!
Unfortunately, many of these people who live off the system have died en route to sophisticated medical care or soon after arrival there. Would it not be better to build up our own institutions to a level where our well-qualified personnel can render adequate medical care to those who need it here rather than flying a few over the Sahara and Kalahari Deserts? What does it say of this well-endowed country – human and natural resources – that its head of state, governors and other high-ranking officials routinely undergo medical procedures like surgeries, including ones that call for anesthesia, in other countries? Why worry, though, about “secrets” being pried out of our leaders while partially unconscious when government agencies use yahoo and other free carriers for electronic mails?
Now, THAT’s another essay!]
I have to quote from the conclusion of the essay as the first part dealt, for the most part, with the niceties of having the citizens of a country in the modern world suffer for hours on roadsides where they had been made to disembark from vehicles, motorcycle “taxis” and even pedestrians while a president was, perhaps I surmised, still having his breakfast at Abuja, over 600 kilometers away. The part I also touched the incredible state of the country’s prime medical facility that saw an older relation – like all patients – supply her thermometer, to list the LEAST of supplies – in the “returned to medical excellence” University College Hospital (UCH)!
Now, the visit this time was rumored -yeah, Nigerian masses as serfs never know why things are done or policies are taken by their government - as a “thank-you-visit” to Oyo citizens for “voting for President Jonathan in the last elections.” Mrs. Jonathan did not come empty-handed as any grateful person would not. Ankra fabrics – the ubiquitous 6-yard bundles – were distributed to a spirited women crowd at the stadium but that was not all. I think Mrs. Jonathan’s “first ladyism” visit to Ibadan confirms how little Nigeria’s ruling class thinks of the citizens of this long-suffering country.
From the account of her Abuja generosity: “… Figuratively the next day, she’s causing traffic chaos and stampede, leading to deaths while her agents give out “free rice” on Abuja streets” is excerpted from
As at Abuja, so was it at Ibadan where gaily-dressed women reportedly danced and generally jubilated before AND after receiving their rice shares a lot of which I’m sure must be on the market now in the ancient city.
Why the visit of the wife of a country’s president should disrupt hundreds of thousands of lives of people trying to eke out a living or the schedules of students, pupils, university students whose lecturers could not get to lectures, etcetera is a subject that continues to baffle millions in this country. Having maneuvered my way through Ibadan’s backroads that I know like a native born, it took me an hour to go from my place to make a much-needed purchase at around Bishop Phillips Academy, a journey that would take 30 minutes through Iwo Road’s WORST chaotic traffic day.
Is this the “fresh air” promised by the president?