Column Opinion

Where Is Nigeria Going?

By Prince Charles Dickson PhD

Some 2.4 million people in Rwanda are benefiting from telemedicine services. In many parts of the world and Africa, latest advances have been made in health tech, they include but not limited to those below.

❑ Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).

❑ Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)

❑ Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

❑ Blockchain and data security

❑ Health-tracking apps

❑ Therapeutic apps

❑ Smart hospitals

❑ Robotics

❑ Electronic Health Records (EHR)

❑ Telehealth

Nigeria is nowhere near in these advances, Tanzania is the drone capital of Africa, spearheaded by the Zanzibar Mapping Initiative, the most significant drone mapping exercise in the world. Scientists, two years ago, were seeking a breakthrough in the fight against malaria have used drones to spray rice fields in Zanzibar – not with traditional pesticides but with a thin, non-toxic film. Nigeria is absent!

A nation politically and culturally, religiously, and economically sick, nobody will really care about us, except we care about ourselves, look at how we are treated by both our leaders and ourselves. The bad news is overwhelming and despite the scores of good things no one is listening because we are weak and disunited as a nation. We say the right things but are quick to do the wrong things. We are a toy thing, seemingly not going anywhere, or at best facing all the wrong directions. Canada won’t accept our vaccine cards, other nations disdain us, and treat us as “shithole” country citizens, our leaders lie to us, we are near there, we lie to ourselves, we will get there, but where are we really going to?

We are a consuming nation, producing almost nothing, and yet we have almost 200million in population, 92% of our pharmaceutical and medical needs come from outside yet we are blessed irrevocably with the raw materials for the same medicines we import. We are at war with ourselves, a nation with much potential, but that really is what it is, JUST POTENTIALS!

So, let me tell us a story.

Once upon a time, there was a village of people who lived in handcrafted wood houses. And like other villages in this era, fires were a very real and present danger at all times. One small flame could burn the whole village into ashes within a few short hours. So the villagers developed a clever fire fighting system.

A rotating group of volunteers kept watch over the village from a lookout tower at all times, day and night. At the first sight of smoke, a volunteer would turn on a loud siren that was only ever sounded when warning the villagers about a fire.

The moment the siren sounded, all villagers would drop everything and run to a pre-assigned location for firefighting.

Young, strong women and men would pump water as fast as possible from the village wells, teenage boys and girls would fill big buckets with water as it was pumped up from the well, and all the rest of the villagers would occupy designated locations and ultimately form human chains leading from the wells to the fire. The bravest women and men would stand next to the fire and heave buckets of water until the fire was extinguished.

One day a traveler from a distant village heard the siren and asked someone on the street about it. The woman – who was rushing toward her designated location – quickly explained, “Whenever there’s a fire, the siren is sounded and the fire is extinguished!”

The traveler was amazed, and decided to bring this remarkable siren technology back to his own village, which also had dreadful problems with fires. Days later, he returned to his village with a siren that perfectly matched the one he witnessed in action on the lookout tower. He gathered all his villagers together, and he said, “You don’t need to fear fire anymore, my friends. I have found a new way to extinguish it. Watch closely, and I shall demonstrate.”

The traveler lit a large bale of hay on fire that was sitting next to his own cottage. The flames quickly began to spread closer and closer to his home. Then he took out the siren he’d acquired and sounded it. The fire only grew in its intensity, so he sounded it again. The fire continued to grow rapidly.

“Just be patient, everyone! It should happen any moment now…”

In a panic he sounded the siren again and again, but still the fire grew and blazed with even more intensity. Within hours the entire village burned down to the ground… because, of course, the traveler had misunderstood the purpose of the siren. It wasn’t used to put out fires. It was simply a signal that directed the villagers to take positive action.

There’s a lookout tower in Nigeria’s life too. In that lookout tower, the siren has sounded, keeps sounding but we all have gone deaf.

We continue to do nothing even as the siren blares loudly in every corner and facet of our national life, imagine the once otherwise safe Sokoto has become a slaughterhouse, in many ways, we will ultimately burn to the ground (dramatic, yet true if we do nothing). For a siren extinguishes no fires on its own. But if we listen to the siren and let it motivate us to take positive action, we yet can save and salvage all that is going down the drain. We need to create a sense of purpose, peace and resolve for ourselves and those who depend on us.

The steps we need to take next won’t be easy, but they will be worthy if only we can take them. We need strong leadership, a willing people, one that can not only hear the siren but know what to do. Have what it takes to fight and extinguish even the hottest fires that are burning from within.

The truth is that for Nigeria…in the lyrics of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ Natural Mystic

There’s a natural mystic

Blowing through the air

If you listen carefully now you will hear

This could be the first trumpet

Might as well be the last

Many more will have to suffer

Many more will have to die

Don’t ask me why

Things are not the way they used to be

I won’t tell no lie

One and all got to face reality now

Though I try to find the answer

To all the questions they ask

Though I know it’s impossible

To go living through the past

Don’t tell no lie

There’s a natural mystic

Blowing through the air

Can’t keep them down

If you listen carefully now you will hear

Such a natural mystic

Blowing through the air

I started by addressing the gaps in our health sector, I end by asking if our leaders see the growing insecurity especially North of the country, how our home are being raped, dehumanised, and our children no longer safe. This nation is heading nowhere, and the hallelujah men are looking 2023 when today we do not know where we stand—Only time will tell.

Contact the writer; pcdbooks@gmail.com

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