Saturday, November 20, 2010

This Dart Hits Me: Part I--Yomi Fashina is Dead



In April this year when I returned from a three-month fellowship at the African Studies Centre, Leiden, the Netherlands, I took a decision: I would be totally indifferent to any of the problems which have come to define Nigeria. I had met the electric power supply worse than it was three months earlier, the roads were worse... in short everything had gone worse including the health of the then president. I had always carried with me the burden called Nigeria. I was given to staying up at night worrying about Nigeria; soliloquizing during the day about the problems of Nigeria, and often giving vent to my frustrations about Nigeria at seminars and during lectures. Now, I decided ‘No More’. Nigeria was not my property or business. I constructed a mental and emotional cocoon, an iron shell into which I often withdraw, far away from Nigeria. But Nigeria is a good marksman and its dart keeps perforating my cocoon and hitting me. This One Hits me Sore!

The worst dart Nigeria has thrown at me since I withdrew into my cocoon was thrown on Tuesday November 9. My student, research assistant and friend, Oluyomi Dipo Fashina (DF) was returning from Lagos on the notorious Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. The bus in which he was travelling was involved in an accident. Yomi had several compound fractures in different parts of his body. Gallantly, Yomi fought the pains for five long days. In between spells of comas, Yomi was able to speak once. All he said was that everyone should relax; he would be fine. In the evening of Sunday 14 November, DF died. The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway had its way!

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If anyone came close to being a perfect gentleman, Yomi was that person. A great team player, an ever-smiling workaholic, a leader and a true servant of men. Yomi, with like-minded classmates like Chuks Egbunike, John Ibanga and Folake Ogunleye, did a comprehensive fieldwork for me on mobile phone deception in Nigeria. And together we explored the Communication Infrastructure Theory and its possible applications in Nigeria. Several times he was my extra pair of eyes which picked my un-dotted i’s and uncrossed t's. He was there for me literally at the snap of a finger!

Since Yomi’s death, everywhere I turn, I encounter him: his MA thesis is on my shelf and on my table; his writings are in my files; his documents are on my laptops. Where do I turn from you, Oluyomi? My colleagues and students meet me and console me as you do one who lost an only child.


If the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway was good, if Vehicle Inspection Officers did their job, in short, if this was not Nigeria, Yomi would be alive today. In the last ten months, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway (on which Yomi had the accident) has claimed about two hundred lives through accidents. The accidents included several occurrences of fuel-carrying tankers which lost control and ran into many passenger vehicles burning everyone to ashes. Women, men, children, newlyweds on their way to their honeymoon—all dreams are being cut short. We moan and groan and keep quiet. The dead become mere statistics. The road is bad, the vehicles are bad, drivers are unlicensed, policemen are busy with N20 bribes and the government is busy with elections and rigging, while Nigerians are dying in their prime!

Nigeria, it’s hard not to be hard hit.

14 comments:

Adeniyi Asiyanbi said...

Tears woke me the morning of November 15th when I heard of DF's death. 14th was my birthday, but Yomi was dying in pains...the news shocked me. This makes the second good, bright friend I have lost to Lagos-Ibadan express in 6 months. This is very very sad!

Anonymous said...

I WAS SPEECHLESS AND HEART-BROKEN WHEN I LEARNT ABOUT YOMI'S DEMISE. I COULD NOT LINK THE PROMISING AND EVER RESOURCEFUL YOMI WITH DEATH.I SAID IT WAS PRACTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE, JUST THE WAY I FELT WHEN I LOST MY LOVELY DAD ON THE SAME LAGOS-IBADAN EXPRESS WAY 5YEARS AGO...... TOO BAD! YOMI YOU ARE A WINNER! SLEEP IN THE BOSOM OF THE LORD. yemi sonde.

YEMI SONDE said...

I WAS SPEECHLESS AND HEART-BROKEN WHEN I LEARNT ABOUT YOMI'S DEMISE. I COULD NOT LINK THE PROMISING AND EVER RESOURCEFUL YOMI WITH DEATH.I SAID IT WAS PRACTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE, JUST THE WAY I FELT WHEN I LOST MY LOVELY DAD ON THE SAME LAGOS-IBADAN EXPRESS WAY 5YEARS AGO...... TOO BAD! YOMI YOU ARE A WINNER! SLEEP IN THE BOSOM OF THE LORD. yemi sonde.

November 20, 2010 11:33 PM

Olowookere B.O said...

The young man was a good person, polite to a fault and ever ready to answer any question..."bros, you have come again and I hope you had an hitch-free trip...let me know if you need me"...always ready to intimate me on any development in the class since he was always around...JUST LIKE WHEN MY ELDER BROTHER DIED IN 2003...HE LEFT FOUR KIDS AND ONE OF THE NIGERIAN ROADS CLAIMED HIS WIFE ABOUT A MONTH AFTER...I HAVE NOT RECOVERED WHEN THIS ONE HIT ME AGAIN...I HOPE MR JONATHAN WOULD READ ALL THESE COMMENTS.

elvislawyer (Okoro Chidi) said...

It's a very sad news.Dr please take heart! I cried within; the tears were afraid to come out. this is very understable considering the sudden realization that it could have been me...

AlooFar said...

I still can't believe it. DF is gone?

He was a great guy.

Sad, Nigeria. SAD!

Sisi Yemmie ™ said...

lagos-ibadan express way again...tres sad

Anonymous said...

Of course I remember Yomi. What a terrible thing. He was gentle, discreet, and a pleasure to be around. I’m sorry to hear this news.



I can’t say I’m surprised to hear how it happened, however. That “expressway” must be one of the most dangerous roads in the world. I didn’t feel particularly vulnerable on our drive from the airport to Ibadan, with you at the wheel of your old jalopy. But on the return trip with the university driver in that powerful Mercedes, I was frequently in fear for my life. I didn’t dare say anything, but that driver was taking big chances throughout the trip. We are all lucky to have made it to Lagos. MARK SMITH

Anonymous said...

Yomi died four days before his convocation for MA degree at the University of Ibadan. How sad can any death be!

Adebiyi Rasheed A. said...

It was and still is unbelievable. I had known Yomi since his undergraduate days and when I saw the mail announcing his death, I felt it could not be him. He seemed too fortified to die at that age. But, this is Nigeria and anything could really happen. Honestly, Yomi's death still baffles me as every time I realised he is no more, I recollect the last chat we had at the department. Yomiiii, do rest in perfect peace.

Toks Oguntuga said...

I never met Yomi Fashina but I feel so sorry and distraught for the way he died. How could a promising life be cut short so tragically? I am speechless and dumbfounded.....and freigthened because it could have been me...Is this how dreams are cut short? Is this how cheap life has become in Nigeria. If the roads are well maintained perhaps he could have lived...Were the hospitals well equipped, perhaps he would have survived.
Yomi Fashina, now that you are at the other side...rest in peace but let your blood cry unto the Lord like that of Abel for vengeance on the wicked task masters called rulers (past and present) in nigeria.

Anonymous said...

I sympathize with Dr Ojebode and all those who knew Yomi. May Gd give you the faith and strength to carry on. I never knew Yomi but Death is the Familiar Stranger.
This should remind us all of our mortality-we, all, are walking and working towards death, and for believers, accounting after death.
Who have we touched positively? What have we given of ourselves and resources? Who have we made happy?
As for Nigeria, I have a simple solution. Individually, we should try hard to be good human beings such that we would be proud of each action we take. You are not responsible for the action of another person, you are responsible and accountable for yours.
Please accept my sympathy.
Dalhatu, B.M.

Emmanuel Babatunde Omobowale said...

Dear Dr Ojebode,

Please accept my condolences. It is terrible that this energetic young man lost his life in this manner. May his soul rest in perfect peace. My only prayer now is that the positive changes that we wish for Nigeria should come speedily.

Emmanuel Babatunde Omobowale

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