BEFORE his fatal slump after colliding with a fellow footballer during a match recently, Chieme Martins played for Nasarawa United Football Club in the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL). During the encounter with Katsina United Football Club, Martins collided with a player from the other team, after which he slumped and all efforts to revive him proved abortive. According to media reports, the waiting ambulance refused to start and alternative plans had to be made to get the injured player urgent medical attention. That, as it turned out, meant the conversion of the press crew van into a temporary ambulance. Sadly, before the van could reach the hospital he was being rushed to, Martins had given up the ghost.
To be sure, all athletes face the risk of imminent death in the course of their respective careers, especially in vigorous encounters like football. However, the circumstances surrounding Martins’ death speak volumes about the shoddy, lackadaisical approach of the Nigerian authorities to the management of affairs in the sports sector. The fact that the ambulance provided for the match didn’t work clearly demonstrated the levity with which the sports ministry and indeed the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) regularly handle their affairs. There is simply no earthly reason for the perfunctory deployment of dysfunctional ambulance services during football matches just to fulfill all righteousness. No doubt, Martins’ sad story exposed the putrid underbelly of the Nigerian establishment.
Truth be told, the event is also an indication of the value of human life in the country. We recall with shame and indignation, the strident cries of Nigeria’s First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari, that the Aso Rock clinic once lacked basic drugs despite the huge amount of money voted for the drugs. The First Lady in fact spoke of how insecticide-treated mosquito nets eluded the people of her constituency even though money was voted to purchase them.
It is certainly painful and sad that the citizens of this country are always short-changed during their transactions with the state, and there are no consequences for all these nasty experiences. The person who should have provided ambulance services during the ill-fated match between Nasarawa United and Katsina United must be appropriately sanctioned by the NFF. The Ministry of Sports and Youth Development must ask the relevant authorities serious questions and make examples of those who are responsible for the death of citizen Martins.
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This, certainly, was a preventable tragedy. It depicted the total lack of seriousness and shoddiness with which issues are handled in the country. In this regard, it will be highly regrettable if, in the typically Nigerian way of doing things, nobody is eventually held responsible for this tragedy. It is really shameful that the management of a professional football league would put dysfunctional ambulance services on display at any of the matches. This is part of the reasons this country’s professional football league is nothing to write home about.
Citizen Chieme Martins’ preventable death must not be allowed to be swept under the carpet, like many others before it. For once, this country must replicate the international best practices.