DETIMBIR Chia, a 14-year-old secondary school student, in the inner recesses of Benue State, three years ago, was credited with the spirited and courageous efforts that resulted in the fervent rescue operations which saved the lives of some passengers of the military plane that crashed in his village of Mbakunu, in Sangev Ya.

There are a few like him in a country where the citizens are yelling at each other, are bitter, angry and above all disappointingly neglected by those who claim that they are in public office for the common good.

Chia could have walked away from the wreckage of the crash. He could have looted the property of the dead military officers. He could have been frightened at the sight of the dead, the destruction. The three-hour steep climb to reach the site could have kept him away. None of these did.

He had the presence of mind to put a call through to his father Anakula Chia, who mustered the village to join his son in saving the lives of people they never knew. Their efforts resulted in the authorities knowing the exact site of the crash and sending rescue team, almost a day after.

Where did the Anakula family get the resources to prepare food for the surviving crash victims and others involved in the rescue operations? What was theirs in setting up fire round the site to keep the survivors warm from the freezing winds of the mountain? Why did they not take revenge on these “big men” who they could have blamed for the neglect of their rural dwelling?

Detimbir, at his age, could recognise needs in a peculiar situation, he had never been through, and organised a solution. There are few people like him. Even few adults can play those parts as effectively as he did.

The abandonment of rural Nigeria, as if it is unimportant to the country has persisted. Rural Nigeria suffers from a pathetic neglect that is fast creeping into the urban areas.

The older generation is wont to blame the youth for many of the country’s problems. The point remains that with proper upbringing, there would be more Detimbirs taking up the challenges of rescuing a country that some delight in driving recklessly to the precipice.

Detimbir was promised a scholarship. He did not get it. The authorities were also quick in forgetting the efforts of those villagers who showed the leadership potentials that inept leadership locks up in rural Nigeria. The promise to make the village accessible was a gimmick.

We should pay more attention to rural Nigeria, so that patriotic youth like Detimbir are not lost to the irascible struggle for political power which we tend to mistake for leadership. The time is now – rural development for national survival should be a major plank in our overall national development.

The time for words is long gone: that was Detimbir’s message three years ago! Did anyone listen? Unfortunately, nobody did.


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