PROMISES raise our hope, increase our confidence, and change our attitude to situations. Our reactions to promises depend on who made them and the circumstances that produced them.
When President Goodluck Jonathan with his wife Dame Patience, make promises to some Nigerians, still tearful under the searing pains from a bomb blast – a bad gift from the 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence – nobody would blame the bomb blast victims, if they believed the promises.
Eight months after the President visited them on their hospital beds, the hospital has stopped treating them, unless they pay their bills. It is possible the President is unaware of this situation.
When the president made the promises to look after the victims, what was the content of the promises? Did the President have an idea of what it would cost to treat them? Was Nigeria going to pay the whole bill? How long was their treatment meant to last?
“I spent one month on the hospital bed. But I have been going from home to the National Hospital over the past eight months. Life has become very difficult; some of us virtually live on drugs, but the National Hospital management has now told us that when they give us prescriptions, we must pay. They say there will be no drugs for us unless we pay,” one of the victims recounted.
“Last Thursday, we waited in vain, hoping to see the Chief Medical Director (CMD) to plead with him to look into our plight. We were told that he cannot see us.”
So what were they supposed to do after arriving at the hospital to discover that they would not be treated? They have all resorted to begging the President to keep his words. Has the President forgotten his promises to the bomb blast victims? If government was unable to provide adequate security at an important event like the 50th independence anniversary, did it not owe the victims treatment that would return them to life as much as possible?
“Please help us to beg President Jonathan to remember us. It is good the way they have helped victims of the Suleja bombing (before the April polls). But since the promises of last year, we are still waiting on hope,” another victim pleaded in a newspaper interview.
“Everything rests on my shoulders, including taking care of the children going to school in Minna. I am getting very tired, especially with the new directive that we must start paying at the hospital.”
A flaw in most government promises is that they are made without any plans for their implementation. It is possible that the bills piled up at the National Hospital without an indication of who would pay them.
When it comes to spending money for the common good, government discovers it has firm fiscal rules that must be obeyed to the last point. Whoever is standing between the bomb blast victims and their access to medication, playing on some financial rules, is making people less important than the rules.
From the day the President made the promises, the process should have been set in motion to fulfil them, considering the circumstances and the danger to those involved.