33 miners rescued in Chile. Any lessons for Africa?

I got the following message forwarded to me from someone in Nigeria a moment ago. It plays on the just-concluded miraculously rescue of 33 miners who were stuck underground for 69 days. Whilst it is clearly meant to be a hilarious outlook on the depressing situation in Nigeria, unfortunately, much of it is a sad reflection of today’s reality.

Last night I dreamt that 33 Nigerian Miners were trapped underground and the govt sent a capsule down to rescue them one after the other, but the rescue had to be called off as the trapped miners could not agree amongst themselves on who goes first. Zoning was suggested but they could not agree on which zone will go first. Eventually in a struggle to all board at the same time, the capsule was damaged leading to the call off.

Oh dear. Sorry it was only a nightmare. In fact the real problem was that FEC awarded the capsule contract to Ibori and we are still awaiting delivery 3 mths later. There is a probe going on to unravel this and retrieve the award sum before we get to the issue of what formula to adopt for the rescue and which miner comes out first. Meanwhile traditional rulers from the miners’ towns are paying solidarity visits to the President to thank him for his efforts to rescue the miners.

And the First lady has just invited the wives of the Nigerian miners to Abuja for dinner at the Hilton! The first ladies from the 36 states will also be in attendance. All including the wives of the miners will wear the Goodluck for President Ankara.

CNN reported early this morning that after 10mths underground all the 33 Nigerian miners have died and the Nigerian govt has declared 7 days of mourning during which the Nigerian flag will be flown at half mast.

Geopolitical Zones
Too many Nigerians identify themselves by their ethnic group before their nationality. The sense of nationalism and patriotism is low. The poor distribution of wealth sees to it that many lookout for their parochial interests only.

If you have lived in any of the large cities in Nigeria, chaos would be nothing to you. The lack of orderliness would have already become a way of live and so all 33 people struggling for the escape capsule any the same time would not be unusual. Nothing expresses the chaotic lifestyle better than the Lagos of a few years ago. It’s worth adding that the current government of Lagos state is working hard to restore some orderliness to the Lagos megalopolis.

Contracts & Corruption
Those two words go hand-in-hand, most of the time, in Nigeria. Contract sums are typically heavily inflated and its not unusual for such contracts to be completed shoddily or never completed at all! Worst case scenerio, the contractor pays kick-back to the officials who made the contract possible and then goes on a shopping jamboree. Proof? Poor roads, poor bridges, epileptic power supply, poor water supply etc span the lenght and breadth of the country.

Traditional rulers
I am not very convinced about the relevance of traditional rulers and chieftaincy institutions in today’s Nigeria. They are supposedly “the custodians of our culture” but it is commonplace for them to lick the booth of the politicians in power. They hold little or no authority but fight for relevance and recognition. They shamelessly identify with whoever holds political authority and hardly every speak-up for their people. So, sucking up to the President of Nigeria even when things are clearly going wrong wouldn’t be anything unusual.

First Ladies
Glitze and glamour, most of the time. Though they do not hold any office, they still hold tremendous influence especially in the Nigerian society. Too many of them are the very nemesis of their spouses due to their extravagance.

Unnecessary loss of life
Nigeria doesn’t experience collapsed mines before lives are lost. Poor infrastructure and endemic corruption is responsible directly and indirectly for the unnecessary death of many Nigerians on a routine basis. These occur so often they are now mostly taken for granted. How many factors can one list? Health personnel gone on strike? Poor power supply? Poor drinking water? Plane crashes due to poor maintenance? Bad roads causing accidents? Road accidents caused by reckless drivers because the law enforcement agents take bribes and hardly enforce driving regulations?

Many of the above listed factors persist in many African countries to varying degrees, there is an urgent need to regain our humanity, rise-up against the man-made challenges and build a prosperous Africa.

Mario Gomez (the oldest of the miners) after being rescued from the San José mine
Mario Gomez (the oldest of the miners) after being rescued from the San José mine

To the Chilean and Bolivian miners, congratulations on your Re-birth. Enjoy life and remember your Creator.

Previous article#NigeriaDecides Tech Meetup: Young Nigerians to discuss applying technology in election monitoring
Next articleA New Blog Aggregator for Nigeria
Oluniyi D. Ajao
Oluniyi D. Ajao is an Internet Entrepreneur and Tech Enthusiast based in South Africa. Follow him on twitter @niyyie for more tech updates.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.