The recent death of seven Abia citizens in a mysterious manner ought to have by now given the government a serious concern, but like many other things in the state, all we get is a deafening silence, inaction and docility, like the proverbial ostrich, we bury our head in sand pretending that nothing has happened. Life goes on.
This again speaks volume as to how much the life of an average Nigerian is worth in a society where we wake up everyday to the news of countless number of persons dispatched to early graves on the account of the unabated security concerns. Those in authority at the end of the day leave citizens with legion of unanswered questions as to what the responsibility of government is aside the security and welfare of the people.
Three weeks and counting after the news filtered the air that seven persons were dead after allegedly eating the popular barbecue, suya and drinking juice in Umuahia Abia state, beyond releasing an impactless statement of a supposed autopsy on one of the victims, the government has done nothing, including a condolence visit.
Among those who died in the incident are all four children of a couple, Mr. & Mrs. Chibuzor Ikwunze of Umuagu, Umuhu Ohuhu in Umuahia North, between the ages of 3 — 12. At the moment, this disaster leaves the couple with no child. For the avoidance of doubt, names of the children are Kelechi Chibuzor 12, Sunday Chibuzor 10, Oluomachi Chibuzor (f) 8, and Kingsley Chibuzor 3.
They had used the opportunity of school holidays in the state to visit a family friend Sunday Ogbah at Umuaeze still in Umuahia North. Sadly, the host family also lost three souls, including the father himself who was said to have bought the suya from where members of his family and the visiting children ate.
While it is yet uncertain as to what led to their death, it is instructive to note that Mrs. Ogba along with her daughter were lucky to live to tell the story after they were discharged from hospital following the development. While her life cannot be compared to anything, at the same time she has been widowed and robbed of her two precious children while her daughter for the rest of her life will be fatherless, in addition to nursing the pain of losing two siblings.
For whatever reason the government may adduce over its prolonged silence, its action has demonstrated lack of value to life of citizens it swore to uphold and protect. It injures morality as Ndigbo and an affront to very essence of human life. A government that prides itself as people-oriented ought to have by now taken an action in solidarity with the grieving families but that has not happened.
Apart from the visit of the member representing Ikwuano/Umuahia federal Constituency, Hon Sam Onuigbo under whose constituency the incident took place, and the moves from Ohuhu community home and abroad (contribution), no other official of government has identified with the families. It is true that no amount of condolence visit will bring the dead back to life but it creates a sense of shoulder to lean on and a shared burden in the minds of those whose loved ones have died.
It takes the grace of God for a woman who has been through the pain of labour four times to watch her children being lumped up in the grave like some kind of chickens. Shall we not share in her pain? Like the Biblical Rachel, she weeps and refused to be consoled. It is an agony better imagined that felt.
The Abia state government under the leadership of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu must demonstrate not just sympathy but empathy on the bereaved families not just by way of visit but intervening in whichever way possible to ensure that their psychological needs are properly ministered to at this critical time.
It is easier as we say for a visitor to imagine that the corpse of another person is nothing more than a log of wood but to the relative, it is a loss irreparable. The government should not behave like that insensitive onlooker but thoroughly investigate the cause of death of the seven persons and speak a word of consolation to their relatives.
This would at least silence the doubting Thomases who think that life in Abia is not valued. Well meaning Abians can also demonstrate love to these families at this very moment of their life so that together we can share in their burden. That is what humanity represents.
Onye Omerela Amarala……
Ifeanyi Okali writes from Umuahia, Abia State