By Muyiwa Adetiba
The death of Air Vice Marshall Olufunso Martins, known simply to many as OG was brought to me through a WhatsApp message on Sunday evening, less than twenty-four hours after the fatal accident happened. It was confirmed the following morning through a phone call.
And if I needed further confirmation, the mood in his house a few hours later dispelled all doubts. Funso Martins was gone.
He was in life, a top soldier who rose to the top of his chosen profession and a top socialite with strong links to many social clubs. One of them, The Emeralds of which he was a founding member, also has me as a member. In fact, he had attended the wedding ceremony of the son of a member in the UK and had flown home for the funeral rites of the wife of Admiral Adelanwa, our club president.
It was always fun to sit next to him at meetings. He would either surreptitiously show you funny videos from his phone or regale you with humorous anecdotes. And after meetings, you could be sure to get the latest inside stuff to the current political developments. There was a serious side to him too.His transition from the military to entrepreneurship and his attendant success in both, attested to this.
Those who knew him better than I did say he was so strategically focused and organised that they would not be surprised if he had planned his final resting place. May his soul rest in peace. The club would miss him for his contributions, but his family would miss him more. He and his wife were so much into each other. My prayers go to her and the four young adults left behind.
The same week also witnessed the sudden death of Jide, the son of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Nobody deserves to witness the death of his child and Bola Tinubu has my deep condolences.
A statement sent out by him said ‘I wish I can bring back my son, but I can’t’. It was a moving statement from a father and my heart went out to him on reading it. The last time I heard something close to that statement was when Alhaja Simbiat Abiola died. MKO was to tell me later that if money could keep his wife alive then Simbiat would have lived.
The reality is that death would come when it would and no amount of money or medical feat can change that. But you can’t help wondering whether Funso or Jide would have lived if adequate medical help had come to them quickly. Jide was said to have suffered from a cardiac arrest. My little knowledge of medicine is that a cardiac arrest is in itself not a death sentence if prompt medical help could be made available.
And that is the crux of my fears. Nobody knows when they would need an emergency. It could be as a result of an accident like Funso’s case, or a heart disease like Jide’s, or a sudden gun attack on an otherwise safe road like has happened to many people. Our health care situation makes many otherwise avoidable deaths inevitable.
Even if you had a battery of doctors in several countries in the world, you would still need to be stabilised for the eight or so hours it would take to meet your doctors. Therefore, whether you are rich or poor, an artisan or a professional, it is in our collective interests to actively revamp our health care system. Our governments at both Federal and State levels have failed us miserably in this regard.
I feel embarrassed each time I hear that some top official had been flown abroad for medical treatment. What if the officials in those countries had run their own health care system down?
Although I have often discussed with some of my friends who are very skilled medical practitioners and even specialists in different fields, about the need to pull resources together to set up a world class hospital, I am well aware that there is a world of difference between being an accomplished professional and being an entrepreneur. Many of them just want a conducive atmosphere to practice their trade.
What I don’t seem to understand however, is why our many rich businessmen can’t see the gold mine in the medical industry. Every year, billions of dollars go from us to other developing countries like India, South Africa and Dubai through medical tourism. Rather than build hotels and estates in every available space, our rich businessmen should consider building and equipping good hospitals or even diagnostic centres that are comparable with the ones we troop to. They would serve the community more than hotels and probably make more money for them as well.
It bears mentioning that you do not have to be a medical doctor to participatein the medical industry. The way the private sector intervened to save the educational sector from total ruin is the same way it should now intervene in the health sector.
Parts of Asiwaju’s statement listed some of the lessons he has learnt from the demise of his son. One of them is the need ‘to be more caring and helpful to the living as I know this is what Jide would want to become of his passing.’ I am sure Tinubu and his wife would think of ways to immortalise their son ‘through caring for the living’ as soon as their grieving period is over. May I suggest one way for their consideration? Tinubu should help build a world rated hospital for heart diseases in memory of his son as a private concern.
He can site it in lagos, his State and the country’s commercial capital, or in Iragbiji his ancestral home or even in rustic Borno where he got his most enduring chieftaincy title. It doesn’t matter. If it’s good enough, people would rather go there than go to India. If it’s good enough, even his political enemies would go there. This is one way I know that will bring his son back as every young adult that is saved would in a way, bring Jide back alive. He might not be able to bring him back physically. But spiritually? Yes, you can!
In fact, Jide might end up achieving far more by his death than by his life. Charles Dickens in ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ said ‘it is a far better thing that I do than I have ever done. It is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.’ May that be said of Jide Tinubu, eventually. And may his soul rest in perfect peace.