How Celebrity’s Death Exposed Entitlement of Many Nigerians


By Reno Omokri

Recently, a young, happy-go-lucky celebrity sadly lost his life in a hospital after a car crash, and predictably, reactions started flowing from Nigerians.

And then a video was leaked, and it set tongues wagging. Minor celebrities in need of a media boost took advantage of this video to come out guns blazing against the healthcare facility in which the video was filmed and basically tore their reputation to shreds.

Others ‘expertly’ analysed the video and called for the prosecution of the proprietor of the facility and the duty staff. And as they are influencers, they contaminated the jury pool, and social media became the judge and the jury, as well as the executioner.

They used all sorts of incendiary languages and buzz words, and in a sense, blew a dog whistle against the healthcare facility. Sadly, they created an online lynch mob.

Alarmed by the level of underserved hate being directed at the medics who initially attended to the young and rising star, I called for caution. What happened next was unexpectedly absurd. A number of social media enthusiasts, who happen to be supporters of a particular presidential candidate, alleged that I was being sympathetic to the dramatis personae because the owner of the healthcare facility “was a PDP member.”

Another fellow accused me of having shares in the facility.

I know we have gotten to the silly season of politics, but never knew that vacuousness would be so widespread.

As a people, Nigerians often have heavy expectations from their institutions, but are always unwilling to make the desired inputs into the system that will make their expectations a reality.

For example, we want uninterrupted power supply, but are rabidly angry at electricity bills. We like smooth roads without potholes, yet, we are thoroughly averse to toll gates. We want a modern metro on our cities, but woe betide that politician that will ask us to pay taxes in order to build it.

In fact, Nigerians want to go to heaven without dying. If God could do it for Enoch and Elijah, then we are entitled to it, even though we are nowhere as pious as those two saints.

Universal healthcare is possible in Nigeria. But it will not just happen. Nigeria does not have universal healthcare. Many hear of the National Health Insurance Scheme and think it covers them. In fact, the NHIS is a voluntary scheme, in that it only covers a section of the population, and participation is not mandatory for all citizens.

Except all Nigerians pay into a mandatorily contributory health fund, that is shared between private and public healthcare institutions, as is done abroad, we will lack the grounds to demand that private health facilities should use their resources to meet public health needs at their own expense! A hospital or clinic is a very expensive business to run. They are not charities.

It is not realistic to blame private healthcare facilities, because you rush a friend or a relative there during an emergency and they lack the resources to provide care to that person. Let me be blunt to you. If you treat an average Nigerian in an emergency, he will get well and most likely never pay you. And if you try to use the law to get your money, they will fight you wotowoto and in the end, you will be run out of business.

You may be able to blame a public facility, if you are a taxpayer. But why blame a private healthcare facility. The proprietor of a private clinic or hospital has a particular clientele that he or she caters to. A private hospital or clinic is not a general hospital.

Abroad, Accident and Emergency wards (otherwise known as A&E) and Intensive Care Units (otherwise known as ICU) are domiciled at General Hospitals. And a General Hospital is built in every major town. An ambulance in England or America will never rush an accident victim to a private clinic, because they are not equipped for that purpose. The life-saving machines in A&E and ICU will set you back $1 million. Or more!

When an accident occurs and you take the victim to a private hospital or clinic, they are most likely to refer the patient to a hospital with both an A&E and an ICU. It is not wickedness. It is not sadistic. It is not Nigeria happening to you. It is standard procedure.

Doing business in Nigeria is not for the faint-hearted. We have a shortage of healthcare professionals precisely because our system does not appreciate them, and the citizenry expect them to deliver the type of services they see in Hollywood movies, without being willing to pay into a mandatory contributory healthcare fund. Where will the money come from?

Going to a private healthcare facility in an emergency and expecting them to give you five-star treatment, without depositing any money, is like going into a restaurant and insisting that they feed you because you are hungry!

Even in Scripture, the Good Samaritan did not pray for the man who needed emergency medical attention. Rather, he paid for him. Nigerians seem not to understand that medical care costs money and private medical facilities are not sustained by prayers, but by payers!

Nigerians expect a private hospital to have a standard medical evacuation transport in place for them when they need it. Paid for by who? Is a private hospital a charity? If they have such, Nigerians must pay for it. It is not going to be free. Who is providing them with funds? Government? In Nigeria? Give me a break!

In America, it is an offence for you not to have medical insurance if you earn above a certain threshold. If you refuse to get it, you will be fined when you file your taxes. If you earn below that threshold, then the state must provide medical insurance for you. The money is then pooled to different Health Management Operators. That is why they can afford to do what they do.

In England, they have a National Health Service that every working person contributes to, in a scheme called National Insurance, and the money is then pooled to both private and public hospitals. That is why they can afford to do what they do.

NOTHING like such exists in Nigeria. The NHIS is nowhere that universal. Yet, Nigerians demand that private hospitals must have  standard medical evacuation facilities. Who will pay for it? If private hospitals spend their money on emergency patients without being remunerated, they will soon go out of business!

For those who do not know, and based on their ignorance, they de-market Nigeria’s healthcare, Nigeria has one of the best healthcare professionals on Earth. Our problem in Nigeria is not access to healthcare. In fact, it is easier to access a doctor in Nigeria than it is in the UK or the US.

The challenge that we have in Nigeria is affordability of healthcare, not access to healthcare. Our doctors and nurses are very accessible in Nigeria, compared to other nations. It is just that healthcare is very expensive, and just as we want power without paying bills, Nigerians also want healthcare without paying for it.

The stress of doing business in Nigeria is already enough. These doctors build or rent their premises. Pay for equipment and staff. Pay for diesel to run generators. All from their pockets or from bank loans. And you now expect them to render free medical services?

Let me paint a picture of what will happen to a private hospital in Nigeria that accepts an accident victim and admits him or her without some form of financial security, in the form of a deposit from the person (which is unlikely in the event that the person is unconscious), and without a friend or family to sign an indemnity form.

Either the patient will be treated and live, and flatly refuse to pay, and there will be absolutely nothing the private hospital or clinic can do, except waste their time going to court to secure an unenforceable judgment.

Or the patient may die, and then the family that was nowhere to be found when that patient needed intensive care, will suddenly show up and blame them (meanwhile, the Good Samaritan who brought them to the hospital would have disappeared into thin air). The family will go to the police and social media to cry and Nigerians, who can be very emotional, will accept everything they say without question.

At the end of the day, the private healthcare facility will be blessed if all they spend is N5 million to get out of the police (and possibly court) case that will ensue. Their reputation will be in tatters, and their facility will gradually unravel, and the end result will be that their healthcare professionals will japa!

This is the stark reality of the private medical sector in Nigeria. And it will continue to be our reality until Nigeria has a truly mandatory and contributory universal healthcare system, which everyone is registered to, and linked to via their National Identification Number and Bank Verification Number.

The National Health Insurance Scheme does not do that. The NHIS Act should either be amended, or repealed and replaced with a more functional public healthcare contributory scheme that all Nigerians must contribute to.

You may be wondering why I included the Bank Verification Number. Maybe you do not know Nigerians. If BVN is not linked to it, and the NHIS is not empowered to seize funds from people’s accounts to pay for emergency healthcare, the same way the Internal Revenue Service in America has such powers over all bank accounts in America, what you will get is just a system where Nigerians want to suck from, but do not want to feed into!

On Manuel Obafemi Akanji

I recently watched an interview Manchester City player, Manuel Obafemi Akanji gave on Super Sport. The young man is a math wiz! He is able to do complex mathematical calculations in his head within milliseconds. He was asked some very tough questions on multiplication, and gave the right answer each and every time without breaking a sweat.

No surprise. People of Yoruba descent have a natural propensity for arithmetic. It is why they dominate in the banking sector, and other areas where numbers and computation are required.

When I visited Cuba, the Yoruba there (they pronounce Yoruba as Oruba) believe it is an evolutionary trait from millennia of Ifa divination (the traditional religion of the Yoruba), which is very mathematical and precise!

The Yoruba Odu Ifá is very similar to binary equations and modern-day computer programming language. Sadly, Black African intellectuals have not explored this correlation to the fullest. Ifá is simply casting of lots, a practice that was used in both the Old and New Testaments of Scripture-Acts 1:26, Leviticus 16:8.

The simplest way to summarise what Odu Ifá is, is to say that it is just pattern recognition of a series of binary codes. Many people of Yoruba origin, both literate and illiterate, find themselves particularly gifted in mathematics. It is an evolutionary trait inbuilt in them from millennia of Ifá divination by their ancestors.

By the way, Scripture does not say that Moses was married to an Ethiopian, whose father was his mentor. The actual Hebrew word used is Cushite-Numbers 12:1. A Cushite is a Black person. The King James Version used the word Ethiopian, because in 1611 when the KJV was published, Black Africans were all referred to as Ethiopians, and the people in modern-day Ethiopia were referred to as Abyssinians. It is quite possible that the Cushite who gave Moses sanctuary and taught him, and also gave him his daughter as wife, in Exodus 2:16-22, was a priest of Ifá.

 One reason why Yoruba slaves were able to retain their culture everywhere they went to, while other Black African slaves were cut off from their culture is because of their traditional religion of Ifá. It is an ancient form of arithmetic.

If you take a computer programme and you miss out even a coma, the whole website you are trying to build, or app, or system will collapse. It is exactly the same with Ifá incantations. It has to be precise to work. And what a lot of Black Africans do not know is that these Ifá incantations are not meant to summon up demons.

They are used to create an atmosphere for healing, for instilling courage in fighters during war, to identify culprits when there has been a theft, or any number of reasons which you can also find in Scripture.

A lot of Yoruba names that begin with Fa, are actually a homage to Ifá. For example, Gani Fawehinmi’s surname is actually Ifáwehinmi, meaning Ifá has got my back. The name Fakoyde is actually Ifákayode, meaning Ifá brings joy. Famakinde is actually Ifámakinde

Ifá divination even has precise names for almost all the elements and ores in the periodic tables, long before Dmitri Mendeleev invented the Periodic Tables in 1869. Not only does it have these ores and elements, it also gives precise instructions on how to formulate them.

How do you think the Yoruba were able to fashion the Ife Bronzes a thousand years ago when Europe was in the Dark Ages? Even the word Ife is of Ifá origin.

Not everything in our culture and tradition is evil. It is up to us to clean up our history, which has been distorted by colonialists, who have made out our ancestors as savages, and theirs are civilised people. And that is why today we now see polygamy as uncivilised, and gay marriage as the height of civility.

 Yoruba  are some of the coolest people on Earth. Colonialism had almost no effect on their culture. They are one of the few people that can go anywhere and make their hosts wish they were Yoruba. You cannot intimidate them. The way they show respect. Their music. Their party-loving nature. Their playfulness. The way they carry themselves in their native fashion (check out Obj’s powerful aso-oke agbada during his White House visit, on October 11, 1977). So warm a people! And their natural diplomacy is top notch. Their ability to harmoniously disagree with you is almost talismanic! When other people call you werey, you will want to donate two slaps to them. But the way a Yoruba person says it makes you feel complimented! One thing I will say is that they have the precise balance of strength and warmth. Not projecting too much strength to make you fear them. And not exuding too much warmth to elicit disrespect. I don’t know how they do it. It might be innate. But we can all learn from them.

#TableShaker Reno Omokri

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