Train journey to eternity, by Wole Olaoye
Her name is Chinelo Megafu. She graduated in dentistry from the University of Port-Harcourt in 2015. Ah, you already know her? She had never been one to seek cheap popularity. His becoming a household name was entirely out of his control. As a doctor, she was trained to save lives. Nothing prepared her for a situation in which lives would flow back all around her (including her own life, by the way) and she would be utterly helpless to do anything about it.
The train ride had been joyful until the fanfare rang out signaling the coming of the apocalypse. Unbeknownst to anyone on the train, terrorists had mined a section of the railway line which exploded as soon as the train passed through the section. Like bees, armed terrorists emerged from the bush and started shooting. She was touched. Many other people were. Others were abducted and taken away by the agents of terror. There she was, a trained lifesaver, unable to save anyone, helpless.
But she wasn’t trained to give up. If there is a problem, reach out. The common humanity that you share with the rest of humanity will drive them to come to your aid. So, amid the pain, blood loss and loss of consciousness, she did her best under the circumstances: she tweeted about her predicament.
” I’m on the train. I was shot. Please pray for me.”
Internet fiends and trolls are always quick on the ball. A Big Dave @odogwupanther who has obviously lost his humanity, scoffed: “…Why would anyone believe that? You got shot on a train, instead of crying out for help, the next thing to do is take to Twitter and say we should pray for you. And besides, no one is on the train with you…”
When other contributors attacked him for these insensitive comments, the coward quietly deleted his comments.
Another, Abolore @ysone2 sneered: “Are you dead now?”
Comments like the ones above are standard social media fare whenever something bad happens. Complete lunatics, thinking their comments won’t get attention unless they’re outrageously offensive, are quickly populating cyberspace with their display of ill-bredness and savagery.
On the angel side, people like Cynthia Chioma Njoku @cynchimanj, were there to give the scoffers a dose of their own medicine. Upon confirmation of Chinelo’s death, Cynthia responded frontally to Abolore @ysone2: “Yes, she’s dead now. You can come and feast on his corpse.
Another passenger on the same train, Anas Iro Danmusa, lived to tell his story. As soon as the attack began, she contacted her brother and the Kaduna State Information Commissioner, Samuel Aruwan.
Anas also called for help on his Facebook page: “Please, it’s an emergency. We’re inside a train right now. The kidnappers planted explosives and the locomotives of the train were destroyed. We are helpless. Train from Abuja to Kaduna. Shots are still being fired all around us. We are just under the seats praying to God waiting for help. Since 8:00 p.m. we have been here.
Anas’ Facebook post was widely shared by concerned people in the cybersphere, many of whom were sympathetic. How different are Facebook answering tribes from their Twitter counterparts! Same incident, different reactions. Different people, different shots.
Aruwan asked him to share his location via WhatsApp and he quickly passed the coordinates to military commanders who quickly traced the scene and rescued the others. The rescue came too late for many passengers who had been taken away by the terrorists, allegedly in five Toyota Sienna buses.
A few puzzles, though: Anas noted that three carriage doors had been left open as the train sped along and a concerned passenger had to personally close them. Why are the doors left open?
Also, some passengers said they saw a strange man in a mufti with a walkie-talkie, but didn’t think much of it until they later saw that the terrorists were also using the walkie-talkie to communicate with their coordinator.
Again, a lady saw a gang member who had kidnapped her before. She was eager to report him when the train reached the Rigasa terminus. But the train never reached its destination and the kidnapper disappeared into the night with his fellow terrorists.
How come Kaduna becomes the headquarters of terrorists when the state is home to at least 12 military and police formations? Those who think that building monasteries and buying hoods equals acquiring sainthood will eventually be consumed by the gassy suffocation of their stupidity.
The Nigerian Railway Corporation has not released the train’s manifest. Many people said that there was no reliable manifesto due to the endemic corruption of the system that this columnist had written about in the past. The facts revealed are that 398 tickets were sold but only 362 passengers boarded. But some sources put the total number of passengers on the train at 970. If true, the only plausible explanation for the difference is corruption – ticket racketeering.
I’ve written before about the opaque way we handle state-owned companies acquired with foreign loans. The railways are run as a branch of the Ministry of Transport. I have used the service before and from what I have seen it is clear that the government has no intention of realizing the huge funds invested in the project. Train tickets are sold on the black market at exorbitant prices in stations. The online portal is sometimes sabotaged so that passengers have no choice but to go to the station to negotiate with touts. Selling train tickets is not rocket science. This is pure nonsense.
As all the commotion – which Anas wrote so touchingly about – continued, Dr. Chinelo Megafu continued to bleed, having been shot in the stomach. She must have wondered how the internet demons on Twitter reacted to her plea for help. These demons are irredeemable because even when their mistake was pointed out to them, they still insisted that they had the right to taunt a dying woman. Suppose she’s lying, they argued. The Devil has no salvation. No matter how hard you try, some people will always take the highway to damnation.
What’s the difference between the bandits who fired the shots and the internet terrorists who lie in wait to further confuse anyone in distress? It is now fashionable for cowards who hide under the umbrella of anonymity in cyberspace to flaunt their utter lack of good race by disparaging anyone they perceive to be their superiors. They will never find peace.
Apparently a sense of peace, well-being and freedom from pain, a sense of estrangement from the world descended upon Chinelo as she embarked on her journey to eternity. Always so polite, she still managed to thank another passenger who was fanning her with his newspaper. The man says he will always treasure that last “Thank you.”
Experts say that when the departure of the spirit from the human body is imminent, the dying person is immersed in a powerful light and observes from above what is happening in their immediate surroundings. They outline five stages: Peace; Separation from the body; Entering a void; See the light; and Entering another realm of existence, through the light. The person sees his life pass before his eyes like the reels of a film. We will never know what Chinelo saw. But she was at peace when she was evacuated.
The Nigerian Medical Association was shocked by the violent end to such a promising life. “The untimely death of young and promising Dr. Chinelo who served at Kaduna State Dental Center and worked with St Gerrard’s Hospital, Kakuri, while striving to earn an honest living, is another death too many. Association notes that unnecessary bloodshed and senseless loss of life are rapidly becoming a recurring decimal in our country, thus aggravating the alarming effects of brain drain, which in many cases have been attributed to the deterioration of the security situation in the country,” said the statement read.
A commenter who was a friend of the deceased actually revealed that she had recently resigned from her post because she had found a job in a foreign country and was due to leave in a few days. The bandits stopped his future.
Good night, Chinelo. You are a metaphor for the state of the nation. When parents become pallbearers and their children become ancestors before their eyes, you know society falls short of the glory of God. Peace to you, Chinelo, perfect peace!
Wole Olaoye is a seasoned public relations consultant and journalist. He can be contacted at [email protected], Twitter: @wole_olaoye; Instagram: woleola2021.
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