Sorry Girl, We Play Ostrich – Chima Okereke



The recent building collapse in Lagos has raised salient as silent questions on our value system, how we value lives and how we value our kids! The collapsed building has throw up a lot of things that is so wrong with our building codes and how we adhere to the global best practices as it regards to the building! As usual we would have government functionaries signing the condolence registries and maybe nobody would be indicted and none imprisoned.

A governor visits the site of tragedy, a collapsed building housing primary school and families and declares that “people” did not allow them to demolish the building they knew was a death trap and marked to be demolished. There were deaths and injuries in the process of taking over the land, but to enforce housing law and save lives, “People” did not allow them to demolish building and now innocent children and adults are dead.

But the question a right-thinking person should ask should be; “who are the ‘people’ that stopped him?” The thousands of omoniles(touts, tugs)? No, when you have a situation where an individual is so powerful that what it takes for a governor, government agency, the people to be impotent and rendered ineffective is to mention his name, then there will be mediocrity, inefficiency, negligence.
Just say, “Baba said…”, “He is friend of baba…”, “Their family is important to us…”, and the right things are avoided, nothing is done, even at the possible loss of lives and properties.

Ostrich play is now a culture in Nigeria, we all know the problem but we bury heads in the sand and pretend the problem and the clear solution do not exist and then dance around it. Any system that stays too long, any group or individual that holds unto power for decades, reduces the potency of the people to demand accountability and to move towards real development. In such situation, the system becomes so comfortable with incompetence, so happy with mediocrity, so afraid not to step on powerful toes of perceived owner(s) of the place. People suffer more, terrible things happen and repeat man-made disasters continue to happen like the constant building collapse and then what? Nothing happens to offenders.

If you want to grow, change systems and those who operate it, learn from corporate world that change their leaders, their CEOs and department heads, ditto western democracies -US, Britain- that change political parties in power even when you think the political leaders are doing well, they still change them, Democrats/Republicans etc.

Until we stop clapping for our oppressors, stop playing the ostrich, the society will not make progress. A situation that has made us to bow rather than demanding for efficiency and taking away objectivity on the altar of we must be found to be politically correct.

Look at that child in picture and the dead ones, do they deserve that condition?
Do they?
Does she?

Chima Okereke

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