It is exactly one year, today, 26 August, 2012, since the bombing of the United Nations (UN) building in Abuja which claimed several lives and shattered the peace of our country.
As I reflect on the last one year I cannot but thank God for many things that happened to me during the period. I woke up to find myself in a London hospital surrounded by love with friends around my bed and their pictures and lovely posters on the walls in the intensive care unit. One of the posters had two puppies squashed in a saucepan and it read “WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER”. My friends and many Nigerians have been with me ever since and they form the core of TeamMember.
TeamMember is a group of young, educated, talented and determined Nigerians who want to contribute to a new Nigeria where things work.
We bring to the table our motivation, zeal, energy and tenacity, hoping to benefit from the skills and experience of some identified committed professionals within our country to guide us in our quest to serve Nigeria as advocates for quality service delivery. But then my story.
Doctors have told me that it is a miracle that I survived the bombing but I find it difficult to understand given that I slept through the worst part. But when I think about what I have been through, and still going through, I see a lot of similarities between my experience and that of Nigeria.
I survived and I believe Nigeria will survive as one united strong country. Like Nigeria also, I have a lot of reasons to despair and give up on life but I will not and I believe Nigeria cannot afford to. Here is what I mean:
• I was involved in a bomb blast which turned my life upside down. Nigeria has suffered from years of mismanagement which has left her upside down to put it mildly.
• I suffered stroke on my right side leaving me with an arm and a leg that were severely impaired. I still cannot use my right hand. Nigeria has suffered from corruption that has left her nearly paralyzed such that she can hardly deliver any meaningful service.
• I broke my left hand which limits what I can do given that my right hand is slowly recovering from a stroke. Nigeria has broken systems and institutions that can hardly deliver service and given that corruption has diverted resources from their intended purpose it is difficult to see how Nigeria can function.
• I was unconscious for a long time and due to inactivity my muscles disintegrated and I could not do anything for myself, a very frustrating experience.
I needed to rebuild my strength and muscles. Nigeria is suffering from poverty that has left its people unemployed, without food and shelter thus building an army of frustrated young people. Nigeria needs to protect her citizens against poverty, hunger and disease.
• My lungs collapsed making it difficult for me to take in oxygen so I had to be incubated. The insecurity in Nigeria today has left citizens running for dear life. Nigeria needs to protect lives and property of its citizens.
• I had injuries on my back, arm and legs such that doctors had to cut skin from other parts to graft. Nigeria has so many supply side issues that it cuts funding from one sector to fund another sector.
• I had brain injury which left me unconscious and without speech for weeks after I came out of coma. Nigeria has lost her values through many years of mismanagement, no wonder the current lawlessness in the land.
* I lost my leg and now I struggle to maintain my balance and very often fall over. Mummy frets when I fall but I have told her several times not to worry because when I fall I will always get up.
Nigeria has lost her morals and ethics and now has no value for human life, barely surviving as a nation. But Nigeria can survive if she adheres to the principles of respect for the fundamental human rights of its citizen, equity and fairness.
I have survived albeit on one leg but with everyone’s help, my inner motivation and with the help of technology I believe that I will regain my balance and live a productive life.
With political will and determination and with every Nigerian playing their part our nation will regain her balance and take her rightful place in the world. It is fascinating how I was flown to the UK for life saving treatment and I was treated by a Nigerian doctor.
Similarly, in the recently concluded Olympics, Nigerians won medals but only for foreign nations. What this tells us is that Nigeria has the human capacity to deliver services, she only needs the right political will and leadership with strong institutions.
TeamMember has been involved in a few activities since its launch in April 2012 in order to begin to engage with the political leadership. As we grow our membership, we have decided it is time to agree on common goals and objectives. We held a retreat in July 2012 in Abuja to draft initial framework to guide our work. It is expected that this will evolve as our activities begin to be clearer.
While I invite Nigerians, especially those in my generation, to join us in the call for change on , www.iamteammember.org if there is any lesson I have learnt in the last one year, it is that our people are incredibly good and kind. So my resolve and that of my colleagues on TeamMember is to do whatever little we can to make a difference in our nation.
But I had to return to the UK for my therapy. I have also been struggling to finalize my dissertation given that the manuscript was lost and I had to rewrite all over with my left (broken) hand. I will hand in my paper by the end of August, return to Nigeria in mid-September and then resume work in October. While I owe my survival to God, I remain indebted to so many Nigerians who have shown me love and kindness in the last one year.