Dead or Killed?


I have always had some brain waves about what service delivery mean to different people and what influence the “deliverers” and the “receivers”. Looking inside-out, my thought is, “are there specific things that make a person deliver good  service to the others?” Your guess might be as good as mine. Although, I agree that most customer service oriented persons have more innate than acquired characteristics. I also wonder if good service delivery is determined/influenced by race or genes. There are instances where it is said that a group of people are somewhat more polite than the others. e.g., it is common knowledge that the average british man would do his utmost to stay polite even as he locks you behind bars.

Alas, I am of the school of thought that service delivery just like many other individual actions have very many strong influences from external factors that are well captured by the PESTEL environments. This would explain why a taxi driver in Singapore is as polite as the Executive in his highbrow office. It might also explain why the average Somali in the recent past would charge at any foreign vessel navigating their territorial waters.

Imagine scenario below where a patient with the regular symptons of malaria got the rudest shock of her life in what started as a routine check and conversation with her physician:

Doctor: with what I see, you might be needing further tests.

Patient: Really? In the meantime, is there anything you can do to relieve my excrutiating pain?

Doctor: I am afraid not. You must bring XXX naira before any treatment

Patient: Doctor, abeg do something while my family go get the money

Doctor: Oh please, go and get the money first , several other patients are waiting

with so much pains, tears in her eyes, a 10 month old baby to tend to, she resigned to fate. Several hours later, family returns, goes through a long bureaucracy for payment, tellers, cashiers, receipts, dockets and some special lexicons, with a bit of relief and a dying patient, below excerpts ensued.

Family: Sir, we’ve paid for all and are now ready for the test and treatment

Doctor: Ok, what do you expect me to do? (with absolute non-challance)

Family: Kindly give us the prescriptions for the laboratory

Doctor: Don’t you have a watch? I am done for the day, you may please come tomorrow

Ouch! that did sound like a knell. All pleas fell to deaf ears. With no time to waste, they tried other hospitals around, they either have no power or no equipment. With the usual Nigerian God factor, she survived a long harrowing night just outside the Doctor’s office.

She would be the first patient to be attended to we had hoped. The Doctor resumed rather late and his look scolded everyone present in rather loud silence wondering if we were still there. In unison, everyone chorused, “welcome Doctor”. With a wave of hand, he gestured “I’ll be right back”. True to his words, he came back 90mins later, “I am afraid the equipment is not working and there are no supplies”. He however, was kind enough to refer us to another hospital in Sagamu which is 2 hours away.

After a successful test, the initial “malaria” symptom was diagnosed as total renal failure. Her kidneys were totally gone. She would need quick dialysis if she’s to stand a chance. Further grope for funds, a few documentation and pawing of signatures, the first dialysis section was done. With some hanging relief, she came back home to a short-lived embrace of her little babies and family.

Few days later, some bloating face, legs and nagging pains were clear indications of the need for yet another session of dialysis. With finances thinning out for a very humble family and limited support from acquaintances, stronger determination and the quest for survival squeezed out required funds for yet another session of dialysis.

Coming back for the regular rituals after yet another bout with the painful indicators, the facility in Sagamu also got jinxed. She was referred to the Federal Medical Center in Abeokuta. That would be her albatross. An overstretched facility, not necessarily affordable to the average citizen of , plenty run around, so much paper work, yet some more paper work and even more paper work. While the family members were struggling to conquer the herculean red tapes, Tolani was lying in the congested open office,  without any care or potential show of same. Pleas of prompt attention fell into deaf ears while she  wriggled with nagging pains.

Two Nurses on duty were engrossed in their world discussing consummate details of their boyfriends and the wish for a repeat of the previous weekend’s escapade in the starting weekend. Intermittent “thank God it’s friday” was their tunes as they took turns to take pictures with their blackberry phones and making choices of which of their pictures breasts the tape for the best DP. All of these while Tolani’s soul was fading away. Her plea for pain killers met no consent.

It was about 5pm when the whole paper work was concluded. As the husband returned with some sense of relief, he presented the papers to the nurses and hoped the session would start in ernest. Alas! the Nurses like two agents from the pit of hell advised them to bring Tolani on Monday as it was too late to carry out dialysis as they are closed for the day. Out of desperation and determination to live, Tolani pulled together whatever is left of her strength and holding power to plead with them.  It did not yield any much sympathy. She would later say to them, “unless you both do not want to live to cater for your children just like the fate you are about to hand me, them you may not carry out this session”. Wow! that seemed to have worked.

They would later carry out this session but a bit too late. Tolani died on the 27th of June after just 3 weeks struggle with kidney failure. Tolani struggled more with poor healthcare and facilities, inhumane environment and treatment, lack of regard for life and living, money before life and I dare say the total lack of care for the people by our government. As if the challenges she had in life was not enough, the handling of human remains with arrant lack of respect by our public health officials would make even the devil weep. Handling of the dead is better imagined; that is a discussion for another time. Well, Tolani has since been buried according to islamic rites. May her soul rest.

In contrast, I have a son with congenital anomalies including renal problems, although the situation can be emotional, traumatic, financially draining and sometimes gloomy, the least of your worries would be the care he gets from the health practitioners. Of course, while some of the health practitioners are Nigerians and Africans, their attitude and professionalism are miles apart. In case you are wondering, that hospital is not within our space.

The case of OJB Jezreel the prolific music producer comes to mind. Was the drama necessary if he was in a sane society? A case of a citizen struggling for his own life when it’s not a war zone. What is the essence of government and governance if not to serve and care for their citizenry? I wish him strength and GOODLUCK.

Some challenges are totally inevitable. Often times they are even beyond our controls and many times they are inexplicable. The million dollar question is, “DOES IT REALLY HURT TO BE KIND, DELIVER GOOD SERVICE AND RESPECT LIFE?” Courtesy costs nothing but gives much more. I very much believe that if treated differently, maybe Tolani will still be here with us or at least happier even in her passing.

...Killed or Dead?

The BIG question, was Tolani dead or killed? Did she die of natural courses or killed by an inhumane system with no respect for life? Did she die at her own time or forced to death by human agents of death encourage by a comatose health system lacking every form of monitoring and control? Is it possible Tolani could still be around if mother nature did not bequeath her the misfortune of being born in callous society? Who knows maybe Tolani would still be around to be the mother of AbdulSamod and Sophiat if she lived in God’s own country? Maybe she would find rest in the warm embrace of her husband and home rather than 6ft below. May karma grant our health officials, callous society and comatose system the fortitude to bear this underserving loss.

This piece is in loving memory of Tolani Ifenuga – my sister in-law and all those struggling to live and many other lives cut short through the misfortune of birth, inhumane people and systems. Until the next time, let us learn to love as we find, aim and shoot at whatever life brings our way.


8 thoughts on “Dead or Killed?

  1. Very sad story, the issue is we really don’t offer SERVICE in this country. So happened to the money that was paid at the first hospital after no service was rendered, not to talk of the traumatic experience they had all gone through.
    People need to start adding value and rendering SERVICE in this country.

    Nice one.

  2. segun

    Compassion, and more of compassion should be the bedrock of the health industry workers. Unfortunately, what we experience in Nigeria; from the government general hospital to the specialists, from privates to the teaching hospitals is just the direct opposite of the norm, Worse still is the aura of arrogance with which some of these disgruntled elements and agents of death surround themselves with while carrying out their obnoxious jobs acting as though they were some demi gods.
    Tolani died. Let’s leave it at that.
    May God grant your family the fortitude to bear your loss.

  3. Sad story

    But … the doctors are operating a business and right now, there is no incentive for them to improve

    1. No alternative
    2. People do not sue for malpractice – We leave such thing to some almighty in the sky type of judge

    Also, we do not have a credit system yet, there is no guarantee that a hospital will recover money spent on a patient if the patient does not pay cash upfront.

    Callous? yes. But the hospital looks at you as a source of revenue not some object that should be saved from dying by all means

    For the nurses, call them to order, a reset may help here.

  4. chinyeaka

    First, my thoughts and prayers go out to Tolani’s family, may her innocent soul rest in God’s peace, amen. Then I’ll like to say this – I’m in no way surprised at the attitude of the healthcare providers in this story. I say that because I know their attitude is just an attempt to mask their glaring ignorance. They have absolutely no clue to even the basic steps in healthcare. From their medical and nursing schools to their hospitals and clinics, I see a bunch of nonentities. Instead of admitting to this child’s parents that they have no idea as to where to start in this child’s case, they went ahead and did what they do best – strip them of their hard earned money, callously watch the child die, heartlessly watch the parents grieve and arrogantly continue running the death traps they call hospitals and clinics. The frustrating thing is that they get away with these murders everyday, but what do we expect?. It’s Nigeria where anything goes. No doctor/nurse is held responsible for their actions/inactions, no malpractice insurance or lawsuits, it’s Nigeria folks and for me that’s the problem.The doctors don’t have the slightest clue to the most fundamental rudiments of medicine, the hospitals are so ill equipped you could call them play houses, some of these so called doctors even got to/through med school because their parents had “long legs” so I don’t expect better. The fat cats that we voted into political offices don’t care because they have the means to send their sick family members to Europe or the USA where they get quality healthcare, so it’s hard luck to the masses. Until we start holding them responsible under an authentic law and stop “leaving them to God”, another family will grieve again, and another and another. These senseless loss of lives in the hands of people who should help save lives, won’t stop until then. Good luck folks.

  5. I lost a good friend [Nabil Hanga] barely a year ago, due to this same health infrastructure/processing issues. You wouldn’t ordinarily blame the spate of globe-trotting public servants in search for effective healthcare (facility and personnel).

    “The people’s money” or not, the loathsome truth is that life is a SURVIVAL GAME. In fact, according to Thomas Hobbes, Self Preservation is man’s first law of nature.

    Our bodies aren’t as durable or illness-resistant as we think. I often wish I practice what I preach when I caution that we watched what we eat and substance excesses we ingest. Optimistically, I see a better Nigeria but nothing within the proximity of 50 years.

    In all we do, we can be utilitarian in saving it for our children or theirs.

  6. Wassila Howes

    Dear Tayo,

    It is with great sadness I read your horrific account here…My sincere condolences to your good family. I wish I could say something more meaningful, alas no words can possibly compensate the loss of our dear ones.

    Very much like life, death is our reality, but to kill is a crime no matter how, where, or with what one has transgressed to enact such a horrid and shameful act!

    No one should go through life at the mercy of the ignorance and inhuman behaviour of others! Though sadly, these are much too common occurrences in many parts of this world, including some happening even in the more sophisticated so called developed ones!

    Many times it is lack of equipment, lack of knowledge and expertise. Too often it is lack of money and resources…Yet, in too many terrible cases turned tragic, the human behaviour loses all sense of humanity and revert to robotic callous automation!

    Insensitivity and negligence become sadly the norms. Yet these are habits of life acquired from imposed daily circumstances. These can be changed!

    Like culture and traditions in a society, a new trend can be initiated to shift bad ideas and practices into more constructive good ones for the benefit of all, as much as oneself, in the long run… Most likely, everyone will need medical attention sooner or later in one’s life, and the need stemming from within can be most powerful!

    Educating people into becoming good citizens is in everyone’s interests, first of all the people themselves! Not easy for sure and it will require patience, courage and perseverance… as well as the will of the collective to awaken the giant within… Every opportunity missed for transforming someone mediocre into a highly praised champion, are missed opportunities for hundreds to live a decent and happy lives.

    For that money is not needed, but a state of mind is…with few simple daily mantras, act of kindness, convincing a society, one person at time, to do better for itself as much as for its own people, should not be such a difficult undertaking if one believe one can, one simply will… and the money will somehow sort itself soon after.

    Think of Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and many others…They were nothing and started with nothing…and we all know where they got and how much they achieved!

    I wish you well, prosperity and good health for your son and your family:)

    God Bless!


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