I once read an article by Frank Sonnenberg titled “The Consequences of no consequence“ and as far as I am concerned, that statement aptly describes the sad story of the death of Dr Vwaere Diaso, who died this week as a result of injuries sustained from a malfunctioning lift at work which crashed when she was in it.
When I first heard of her death, it took hours for me to respond to it because I was numb having recently heard too many stories of horrific, unjustifiable and needless deaths stemming from the actions or non actions of the state and individuals entrusted with ensuring the common good of the populace.
The first emotion I felt especially after reading the details of the incident was that of sorrow. Sorrow as a mother of adult children who knows what it takes to love, nurture and train a child from a baby to an adult especially in a country such as ours which does not provide the basic necessities to its citizens. Sorrow because as a parent it is a terrible thing to lose a child (any child) not the least, one with such a promising future. Sorrow because of the pain she suffered in the last hours of her life, as she was said to have repeatedly begged not to be allowed to die and the fear she must have experienced as she saw her life seep away.
Then I felt anger. Anger especially because her death was not as a result of a freak accident but an accident waiting to happen, for it is on record that there had been several complaints about the deteriorating condition of the lift. Anger that she is unfortunately just another statistic in the growing number of people who are killed, maimed or suffer unjustly by a system that doesn’t value life. Anger that in a general hospital where she worked, there was no blood available to save her life.
Mixed with that anger was fear. Fear of who was next on the list that the state had drawn up to deal with, fear that it could be me or any of my loved ones, fear that an ordinary day could turn up being the worst day of one’s life not because one didn’t take the appropriate measures but because the state, institutions and citizens do not value human life.
One major failing we have as a people is our inability to see the link between cause and effect, actions and consequences, behaviour and responses. It is evident in the way we act as workers- not seeing that our productivity or lack of it results in the availability of or lack of funds to pay for our services. As citizens- that our refusal to demand good governance from our elected leaders is why we have ended up providing for ourselves, what the state should provide for its citizens. As parents-the lack of disciplining our children when they are young has resulted in the breeding of a generation that is overly entitled and unbridled in its desires and tastes.
We would rather attribute the bad things happening in our society to destiny, lack of spiritual power than the choices and actions and non actions of individuals. Rather than investigate incidents, so as to avoid a reoccurrence and punish bad behaviour, negligence or complicity, we will rather take steps to (a) ensure that they don’t happen to us like the video already going around showing people what to do if they happen to be in a malfunctioning elevator so as not to be badly injured (b) provide for ourselves the basic amenities the government should provide thereby giving ourselves a false sense of immunity and security (c) concentrate on the immediate cause of the incident ignoring the deep rooted causes which have become embedded in our culture.
We are a people who allow thieves, murderers, cheats, kidnappers, blackmailers to get away with lies, disrespect, theft, murder, cheating and all sorts of bad behavior without making them face the consequences of their actions. We see it in the shameless crowd of people who protest on the grounds of religion, tribe and gender when wealthy individuals, politicians or even ordinary citizens are indicted for crimes they have committed against us and the state. We see it manifest when the government would pardon so-called reformed criminals and absorb them into the society without punishment or restitution just because they claim to be sorry for their actions and ask for forgiveness. We see it when politicians who are obviously spending our commonwealth lavishly for their personal gain are supported by the very people they have impoverished.
The consequences of no consequences are very dire and daily the line between good and bad behaviour is getting blurred. There was a time when a thief received no honour in the society, when a good name was better than riches but it’s not so now. We all see people who steal, cheat and lie being honoured and feted by society. Wrongdoing has become the norm as we have seen in the recent case of the young lady who forged her JAMB results and the lack of consequences is breeding a generation who are emboldened to do more evil as they do not see any deterrent for their actions. It’s easy to misbehave and even justifiable to do so when everyone is doing it.
It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities. — Josiah Stamp
The chickens have come home to roost and it is time to wake up to the fact that our inability to enforce consequences has resulted in the state of our nation today. We – rich, poor, powerful and innocent are suffering the consequences of our silence in the face of bad governance. We had thought we could insulate ourselves from its effects but the Covid pandemic has shown us that we are unable to run away from the mess we have created. It is not enough to protest or bemoan our fate in the corners of our rooms because the bitter truth is that we are all complicit in the state we have fallen to. We must begin to address big offenses and small infractions both at home and in public. Forgive people but ensure they pay for their actions. Hold ourselves and others accountable for our actions. Make no exceptions for wrongdoers even if they be our kith and kin. Take responsibility for our actions and take actions to resolve them.
We cannot escape the consequences of our inactions and although it seems like a losing battle not to lose hope in our country, we have no other country to call our own.