Whether we like it or not, we all must play a part in fixing the mess. The only way society may get better is if we all ensure that only the best persons get into positions of power. My help says her father used to be a teacher. I wonder if he used to vote. I wonder if he made it his business to elect the right persons into his local government…


The postponement of the elections was a disappointment. I am sure some would not bother making the effort to exercise their suffrage a second time. Whilst one understands and permits such frustrations, I don’t believe that giving up is an option. We cannot all leave the country to go to Canada or anywhere else. It won’t be long before these nations start getting tired of the influx of Nigerians. I know some insist it is better to be second class citizens in foreign lands, than to be so in their own land. But I still strongly believe that if we run away, or keep quiet, one way or the other, we will suffer the consequences — if not tomorrow, then the day after. If not in our lifetime, then our children’s. We suffer now because our parents did not do all that they needed to do to make Nigeria stay great.

There is no better illustration of this dilemma than the unfortunate example of my house-help whose aged father used to be a teacher and then headmaster in the primary school. He lives in penury now. With no benefits coming to him even in retirement, he relies on his children.

Two weeks ago, my house-help informed me that her mother lay very ill and so she needed to travel home. Home, being a village after Ogoja in Benue State. She did say that it would take all of two days to get to her village, even by bus. I was not sure that her mother was ill. Because in these parts, domestic helps, rather than give notice, i.e. resign, would get up and walk out, not to return. Or use the excuse of a relative falling ill not to return. So, even though I found this lady hardworking, I could not tell her true purpose or intention until I received her call at 12.44 a.m. on the following Tuesday morning.

She had seen her mother and decided it was best to return to work after her two-week absence. She set out at 6.00 a.m. for Lagos. On the way, their bus had a technical fault and so a replacement bus was sent after three hours. By 11.00 a.m. this newer bus also broke down and so they were stuck. She called at 11.45 a.m. to alert me of her predicament. I did not see her missed call. At 12.44 a.m. my phone rang, and I saw her name pop up. I thought it was odd for her to call me at such time. I picked it up and heard the agony in her voice. I could hear people screaming in the background. The bus-full of people had suffered an accident between ijebu-Ode and Sagamu, with most of the passengers either dead or injured. All four of them who sat in the last row were fine. The driver was fine. Two other persons were fine.

My helplessness could not be described. She described the scene of the accident and how the bus had somersaulted and landed in the bush. Those alive managed to climb out of the bus that was now in many pieces. She wept and wept over the phone. I asked how many of them were standing and well. She said three of them young ladies and four men. My initial reaction was fear. It is one thing to be alive and to have escaped death in an accident; but another to meet a predator who would take advantage of the vulnerability of such a moment. I asked her to find her luggage and cover her body. I know the way she dresses. So, I wanted her to make herself look as unattractive as possible to potential predators, if she was to meet one. As if that would change anything!

Until we fix this space, it is going to remain “every man for himself, and the Devil take the hindmost”. And this means that we must start thinking past ourselves and our children. People need to stop thinking it is somebody else’s responsibility because one doesn’t know how an inaction could come back to hunt one’s self or a close one.


I remembered that we have emergency numbers and so searched Google and found the 112 emergency number. I dialled the number and this tired voice came on. By the time I managed to say there had been an accident, the line had gone off. It may just have been a coincidence. I tried again, this time a very pleasant voice came on. Very professional and helpful. She however said she needed to speak with the victim or persons at the scene of the accident. I asked if I could make the call a three-way one. She insisted on the victims speaking to her directly. I then called my help to call directly. She did; but was told there is nothing 112 could do for incidents or victims outside Lagos. At this time, I was very upset. How can it take so long to find help? So, I thought, “Why not the police?” I then went to Google. I saw emergency police numbers. I tried the publicised number for the Ogun State police. Thankfully, a very nice man picked up the phone. He sounded positive; and I could feel some empathy in his voice. He allowed a three-way call, so he could speak to my help and the bus driver. He obtained their location and promised to escalate the situation to the DPO. He did. He also sent me the DPO’s number; whom I called. Four hours after the accident occurred, the police arrived.

They took the survivors to the nearest hospital. I had to keep calling my help to assure her that assistance was on the way. She kept weeping and saying, “I am afraid, I don’t want to die. What can I do?”. Aside from being a nuisance and following up with the police, there was nothing else I could do.

This is the helplessness that permeates a society where things don’t work.

Whether we like it or not, we all must play a part in fixing the mess. The only way society may get better is if we all ensure that only the best persons get into positions of power. My help says her father used to be a teacher. I wonder if he used to vote. I wonder if he made it his business to elect the right persons into his local government, into his state, and into jobs for the state assembly and into the National Assembly. These positions matter. These people have a responsibility to ensure that society and the institutions needed to protect lives work. Who is checking that commuter vehicles are fit for this purpose? Who checks that our roads wouldn’t take away lives so needlessly? Who ensures that we have equipment to support rescue missions? Who ensures that we have well-equipped hospitals? Who even cares about lives that are lost so brazenly?

Until we fix this space, it is going to remain “every man for himself, and the Devil take the hindmost”. And this means that we must start thinking past ourselves and our children. People need to stop thinking it is somebody else’s responsibility because one doesn’t know how an inaction could come back to hunt one’s self or a close one.

This negative feedback loop is called Karma; and somehow it loves Nigeria and Nigerians.

‘Lande Omo Oba is a lawyer and an everyday girl.