Nothing really has changed in 5 years!

Dear Yomi,

THANK God for the rains. The oppressive heat has been put to shame. I don’t have to worry too much about NEPA again. Yomi, you keep reminding me, every now and then, that the electricity company is no longer NEPA; that it changed its name to PHCN a long time ago; that it has now been privatised and broken down to several smaller companies. For me and many Nigerians, nothing has really changed and NEPA is just an acronym for Never Expect Power Always. So don’t you bother to correct me again!
I was still pondering over the supposedly simple word, “change” when I came across Lasisi Olagunju’s beautiful and interesting article, in the Nigerian Tribune titled, “Nothing has changed…..” You need to read it to get the gist. I guess it was meant to stimulate our thoughts! It did exactly that for me, albeit, in a different direction.
Yomi, I am distraught. Nothing really has changed five years after Dr. Ben placed me on some eye drops for the treatment of glaucoma. I have modified my lifestyle so that I can use the medicines regularly as prescribed; have followed every advice I was given and never missed a follow-up appointment. “Tommy, you seem to have a very short memory. Five years ago, when I unfolded the treatment plan before you, I remember telling you that the aim of treatment was to preserve your sight at the level it was at the time! I never promised you a cure and I never promised an improvement,” said Dr. Ben. His words came as a rude shock to me. I think he was too harsh and unfeeling. Yomi, what do I do now? I am confused.

Dear Tommy,

I don’t like to be a go-between for you and Dr Ben. Why not take up the issue with him directly? However, I would call your attention to what he said last week, “Glaucoma destroys the nerve responsible for transmitting light impulses from the eye to the brain. Once the “cable”, known as the optic nerve, is destroyed, there is an irreversible loss of vision.” As a structural engineer, I would like to add that once the structure is affected, the corresponding function is lost. The only way to restore function is either to reinforce the existing structure to strengthen it, or by rebuilding it, or by providing an alternative channel for transmitting light signals from the eye to the brain. I will pass on our discussion to Dr. Ben because it may turn out that I am speaking rubbish!

Dear Yomi and Tommy,

First of all let me apologise to Tommy for being insensitive to his feelings when I was discussing the plans for the treatment of his eyes. “Truth,” they say, “is bitter,” no matter how it is told. Yomi’s engineering suggestions are plausible and actually being researched not only for glaucoma but for other conditions as well. I have no doubt that sooner than later, it would be possible to repair the damaged optic nerve using stem cells. Already the Bionic Eye, an electronic device, is undergoing testing to provide an alternative route for transmission of light signals to the brain. The future for glaucoma treatment is thus very bright. There is a big room for hope that lost vision may be restored!
Is there a lesson for the nation in all these seemingly unconnected discussions? A system that allows such an incredible amount of pilferage of its resources must be suspect. There is something very wrong when all the controls, checks and balances and even conscience are gone. Let us take another close look at the structure of our nation again. Perhaps we may have to follow Yomi’s suggested engineering solution of restructuring, otherwise, when this mess has been cleaned up, new ones will follow and we shall continue to spend valuable time and resources mopping up water from the leaking pipes when we simply could have replaced the pipes.


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