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When Life Is Worth Nothing

The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government – Section 14 (2b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

THERE are provisions of the Constitution our governments observe in breach. Section 14 (2b) is one of them. What is the meaning of this provision when governments do not attach any importance to life? What efforts have governments made to halt the waste of lives all over the country?

In the past few weeks, outside the traditional crises in Bauchi, Borno and Plateau States that daily claim lives, other Nigerians die from road accidents, majorly caused by the poor state of the roads and the poorer condition of vehicles that their owners would have pulled off the roads if economic conditions were better.

Nigerians live perilously in peace time. If road accidents do not get them, criminals on the prowl could. If they survive these, they could be victims of conflicts – sectional, ethnic, religious, political. As if these are not enough, adulterated products – from drugs to foods – present more problems.

Hope Adeleke, a policeman, lost five children to kerosene explosion in Oghara, Delta State. A sixth child and his wife are still in critical conditions in a hospital in Benin City. Adeleke was on night duty when his home exploded in a ball of fire. Four of his children died immediately and then the fifth.

The journey to death began with the innocuous purchase of kerosene. They never knew it was adulterated. Deaths from kerosene explosions are seasonal; they are usually a consequence of product scarcity.

Kerosene used mostly as fuel for cooking is often scarce and remain expensive with prices as high as N150 per litre, when available. Government has had little concern about steady supply of the product unlike fuel for vehicles.

Criminals latch into the gap in supply and pump adulterated products into the system. This has been going on for years. People die, people denounce government’s indifference and hardly anything is done to address the situation. Government and its security agencies are busy with things they consider more important than the security and safety of Nigerians.

A government agency like the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, exists for the well-being of Nigerians. Its responsibilities include provision of safe products. NNPC must live up to these responsibilities. Kerosene explosions must stop.

When will governments start caring for the people? Nigerians are tired of blames and excuses when they are mortally hurt from the laxity of those who should protect them. What do you tell a man whose family is at the verge of extinction because government cares for him?  No reasons are acceptable for loss of lives especially when it is largely avoidable.

Nothing can compensate Adeleke for his losses, but something is inane about governments that swear to make security and welfare of the people a priority, but recline to silence when they consistently fail to keep their pledge.


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