By Jereaghogho Efeturi – Ukusare
At about 6PM on Sunday the 19th of March, 2017, when the news of suicide by Dr. Allwell Orji filtered into the ears of Nigerians and seen on social media, it all seemed like a huge joke or something was amiss in the story. By the next day, more details of this incongruous act filled the Nigerian air ways confirming the seemingly hitherto unprecedented act of Dr. Orji as real.
Shocking as this may be, it is not the first of its kind in Nigeria. In Africa, prior to this age, it was not uncommon to find a man of so much integrity in the society, kill himself so as not to face the shame of an ignoble act he or member(s) of his family have committed. However, as civilization entered into the Nigerian and African society, it was believed that such acts were things of the past in Africa and could never reoccur. Regardless of the fact that this has been happening occasionally in our society ever since the pre- civilization era, the action of Dr. Orji seemed to break the myth that “African man no dey commit suicide”.
Since Sunday the 19th of March 2017, Nigerians have been asking questions as to what could have led a medical doctor, 35, with a chauffeur and a nice car to such a heinous act. Nigerians wondered, could it be a case of enormous responsibilities? Could it be that someone dear to him died? Could it be that he got the news of being infected by a terminal ailment from a patient? Could it be that his home is in disarray and could not take it anymore? Could it be that he lost a business deal into which he had invested so much or maybe even lost his entire life’s savings? Questions reeled in from the nooks and crannies of the Nigerian society to where the news had reached. With all of these questions, one thing remains unchanged, while the other is in present continuous: Dr. Allwell Orji committed suicide – apparently Allwell was not all well – and the other, we are still searching for the reason (s).
May we not look too far as to miss the lessons of this suicide committed by Dr. Orji which is a manifestation and a representation of the Nigerian society as it stands today. Pre civilised Nigeria had Nigerians kill themselves to preserve their integrity and pride, while modern Nigeria has Nigerians killing themselves as a result of hopelessness. Why should we be hopeless in our homeland? Dr. Allwell Orji, who represents many other unknown Nigerians facing similar issues was a medical doctor, aged 35, had no wife, no child, was sickle celled, was discriminated against, was not making the kind of living he was supposed to be making if he had his specialization since graduation in 2008. He tried to specialise in an area of surgery but was unsuccessful, tried pediatrics, he failed and finally family medicine in which he was also unsuccessful. He confirmed the news of his failed attempt on the day of the suicide. Today, the bereaved family is in grief and the society is asking questions and making suggestions.
A combination of factors led to this. Some of these factors were internal or personal while the others, external or societal. While I leave the internal and external influences to psychologists and sociologists, these factors whatever they are subject to the individual even as the psychologists would tell you. Everyone has the power of choice, hence we make choices. Making choices is essential to our existence and we all do this in our daily lives. Nothing is wrong with making choices. What is considered wrong is making wrong choices without realising it – early or late- even unto death.
The choice of taking one’s own life is the height of depravity and an ignoble act. It means you care less about the people who care about you. It means you think of yourself only and this is known as selfishness and it also means you see yourself as useless and hated. Of course, we know that no one person is useless, and no matter how despised you are in the society, your mother will still love you. So, thinking of suicide is a psychotic situation that requires psychoanalysis and a recommended psychotherapy.
Suicide is not an end. It is a means to immortality where the forces of good and evil fiercely war against each other. It is not an easier place to be especially when you find yourself on the side of the evil forces – which would happen when you commit suicide. In fact, suicide is a self hastened beginning of a whole new unfamiliar war. Which do you prefer, the familiar or the unfamiliar? What then is the need to crossover to the other side through suicide?
Man makes the society and the society makes man. If there are professional sociologists and psychologists paid by the government of Nigeria and are easily accessible, things like this would be greatly minimised in the society. The Nigerian society needs to be redesigned in a way such that it takes care of its citizens. From counseling to welfare programmes for the citizens, the Nigerian government – Federal, State and Local – have to wake up to their responsibilities. A society that promotes capitalism still caters for the weak by providing essential support and services to cushion the effects of the capitalist economy on the people, needless to talk about a mixed economy as Nigeria’s.
Welfare of the citizens is one of the major functions of the government of any country. However, in Nigeria, this is lacking. A few people prefer to be happy with the wealth of the Nation while keeping the rest of the entire country in a state of perpetual disenchantment. This in my view is another sad song.
Jereaghogho Efeturi – Ukusare is the Publisher & Editor In Chief, St. Hilary’s Magazine and an Entrepreneurship Training Facilitator.