A callous neglect
The Weekly Trust last week did a cover story of a pathetic trail of human suffering caused by official neglect. It portrayed how victims of the Independence Day bomb blasts had been left to fend for themselves, despite numerous public statements by officials at the highest level of government that the authorities would pick up the bills.
The suggestion that this is the case speaks a lot about the cavalier attitude of our leaders. Victims who survived the tragedy but were in hospital receiving treatment were promised free medical treatment. By October 12, all of them were discharged, without completing the various courses of their treatment. Indeed some were referred for surgery but were forced out of the hospitals unless they produced proof of ability to foot their medical bills after October 12.
Considering the number and status of personalities who trooped to the hospitals to commiserate with the victims in the days immediately after the blasts, it is unthinkable yet unfortunately true that the promises they made in the glare of television cameras, were not redeemed. By their own admission, only the assistance given to them by the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan which was delivered to them personally when she went to visit got to them. What happened to the FCT Minister's pledge to foot all the medical bills of the victims? How about the legislators and cabinet ministers who all went to see and offered to assist them? Was it all photo opportunity?
Whatever the reason for the failure to stand by these bomb blast victims, it is shameful that they have to cry for attention to get the very assistance they were promised. These victims should be accorded hero status and treated as such, because they were performing a patriotic duty when cruel fate befell them. Many of them got caught in the blasts in the line of duty. Other ordinary Nigerians who died or sustained injuries were equally patriotic citizens who left the comfort of their homes to actually make it to the venue of our historic Golden jubilee celebration.
It is sad that they are being abandoned to end up disabled, when giving them the right and complete course of treatment at the right time could get some of them close enough, if not completely back to their normal condition. It will be a great personal tragedy and national loss if a young police officer like Haruna Hassan, who is a victim, should end up blind because government failed to pay for the eye surgery he badly needs. Just as it will be calamitous if Corporal John Joshua, who got injured while rescuing two children, should end up a cripple. The same goes for all the others, who did not choose to be in the condition they find themselves.
If the FCT ministry had arranged to foot the bills and the process had been caught up in some bureaucratic bottleneck, this is the opportunity for action; the wellbeing of the victims depends on it. One of the victims, Abubakar Agaie, a Vehicle Inspection Officer told Weekly Trust that 'lots of people made promises for our treatment, but till today we know little or nothing as we have been left to our fate.'
While we are still at it, it is perhaps pertinent to ask what happened to the compensation the government promised to pay to families of dead victims of the bomb blasts. If this promise too has not been redeemed, when will it be, and how can it be certified that the intended beneficiaries get it? Quick disbursement of the funds will surely bring some relief to those who lost their breadwinners, while those who lost children could at least have the comfort that their loss had been shared by a compassionate nation. It is time for the government to face the issue of compensation squarely as well as address the problem of the bomb blast victims that were forcibly ejected from hospitals to resume their treatment.
(Culled from Daily Trust)