Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How much is life really worth in Nigeria?

On the 1st day of 2010, I was driving along Bourdillon Road in Ikoyi, singing happily to myself, when suddenly, I noticed a disturbance up ahead. Moving closer, I saw a man lying flat on his face right in the middle of the road. He had been hit by a car.

His was lying in a pool of his own blood with more gurgling out of his nose and mouth as his body heaved slowly up and down. The driver of the car he had been hit by was pulling slightly away as if trying to run away from the scene, but I quickly blocked his exit with my car and along with other random passers-by, made him come out and take responsibility for his accident.

The injured man was loaded up, carelessly I might add, considering the fact that he obviously had an internal head injury, judging by the huge clots of blood that were under his head as he was lifted up into the driver’s car and carted away. I volunteered to lead the obviously distressed driver to a hospital further down the road.

On the way there, I spotted one of the much advertised and new Lagos State ambulances, so I made a detour and sped over to the parked ambulance with the driver in tow.

We alerted the paramedics about the situation and they sprang to action and lifted the injured man from the car onto a gurney. They cut off every item of clothing on him save for his waist band of charms and began administering First Aid. All this was being done with the ambulance still parked.

The increasingly distressed driver came to me asking if I didn’t think the paramedics were being a bit too slow and wondering if we shouldn’t have taken the injured man to the General hospital ourselves. My response was that it’s the responsibility of the Ambulance services to handle emergencies such as this so I believe we have done the proper thing by bringing him to them.

Besides the ambulance would be taking the accident victim to the General hospital whenever they did choose to get going.

As we were engaged in this discussion, I noticed the injured man’s chest was heaving up and down at an alarmingly increased pace as he was being placed on drip by the paramedics. I raised the alarm, asking why he is breathing so fast all of a sudden. I was ignored by the impressively calm paramedics and so shut up before I embarrassed myself even more due to ignorance.

A bottle of bleach was produced and one of the paramedics began cleaning the blood off the driver’s hands.

About 15minutes after we placed the injured man in care of the paramedics, they finally started the ambulance and began the journey to the General Hospital.

I went home and had jollof rice, moi-moi, plantain and beef.

Today I called the Driver of the car that hit the man asking about the situation. The mysterious man with the charms didn’t make it. He died on that day.

All attempts to determine his identity have been futile. Just another John Doe in the jungle that is Lagos.

This incident has raised a lot of questions in my mind:

• Life on earth is so transient. I’m joining the timeless debate of mankind to ask ‘Is there any life after death?

• Would John Doe still be alive today, if we had taken the accident victim to a private hospital rather than entrust him to the hands of the State Emergency Services?

• Am I somehow responsible because I didn’t stay with the injured man through his battle for his life?

• Where did that phrase ‘Hold on for dear life’ ever originate from, because the way I see it right here in Lagos, life seems anything but dear?

• And finally, How much is life really worth in Nigeria?


  1. You did your best, You are in no way responsible. But, if you do find yourself in this situation next time, im sure you would take the man to the private hopsital instead. you live and you learn, thats life, but pls, u are in no way responsible.
    Life certainly isnt worth much in naija, there is nothing institutionalized to come to any ones aid when their life is in danger.

  2. Thanks Anonymous!!

    So sad yeah!!It's one thing to have emergency services available in a city like Lagos, its another thing to have well-trained professionals to handle those emergencies.