The Thailand rescue operation holds lessons for Nigeria

For 18 days, 12 boys between the age of 11 and 16 who were playing football and their coach were trapped inside a flooded Tham Luang Cave in Thailand. Initially counted for dead after being lost for days amid torrential rains that flooded the six-mile maze of caves, the rescue team eventually found them 10 days later, after using maps provided by a British cave explorer who knew the terrain. With that, the whole world watched as efforts were made by the Thai authorities, supported by several governments across the world, to ensure that the boys were brought out alive. At the end, all of them were successfully rescued though one of the divers died in the process.

We heartily salute the uncommon courage, altruism, selfless service of the Thai military men and cave divers as well as social workers who teamed up to rescue the 12 young soccer players and their 25 years old coach. What they did underscore the significance of respect for human dignity. Above all, it reaffirms the value and inviolability of human life, a lesson that we are yet to fully imbibe in Nigeria.

In an age of unbridled individualism, it was remarkable to see volunteers from different countries converge in Thailand for the sake of 12 boys and their coach. The most poignant lesson from that is simple: at the end of the day, we are all members of the human community. The role of the media in the rescue efforts was also significant. By drawing global attention to the tragedy and staying on the story, it was difficult for the Thai authorities to abandon the boys to their fate.

For us in Nigeria, there are numerous lessons to take away from the whole episode. One, it challenges us in Nigeria to construct an ethic of human solidarity for promoting the welfare of our people, especially when they are in disaster situations. Two, it teaches us that human life is too precious to be wasted as casually as it has become the norm in our country today. Three, the government must be accountable to the people, no matter their status in the society. Four, we learnt from the Thailand rescue operations that the welfare of the human person occupies a central place in all developments.

Given the foregoing, the death of fellow human beings ought to diminish our own existence. Unfortunately for us in Nigeria, we have got accustomed to shedding of human blood. It has become a new normal that a group of barbarians goes about murdering innocent citizens and setting their houses ablaze with impunity. And that brings us to another lesson on the role played by the authorities in Thailand. During their interview after the successful rescue of the young footballers, the cave divers said that even though they knew they were risking their lives, it was their responsibility. Taking responsibility rather than offering excuses is what those who preside over our affairs in Nigeria are yet to learn.

Beyond the role of the government, the citizens also have their own role to play as we saw in Thailand. If we are to develop as a nation, we must establish formidable blocks of social institutions to alleviate human suffering especially in emergency situations such as witnessed in Thailand. That will involve a collaboration of both the government and the people. We cannot continue to live in our little cocoons unmindful of the plight of others. To build an inclusive society that works, we must go beyond a situation in which only very few people are interested in rendering pro-bono social services to the helpless and the needy.