Tinubu’s Nigeria: Mortuaries Overflow With Dead Bodies

Some 6 years back, precisely on August 18, 2018, I had gone to a mortuary where the corpse of my late dear mother was deposited preparatory for her burial and was shocked by the number of dead bodies which littered the mortuary floors.

Not knowing what to do at the gory sight, I had knelt down, prayed and pleaded with God to save humanity.

On the 8th of February, 2024,this year, I had accompanied my kinsmen to another mortuary to retrieve the corpse of our cousin for burial. What greeted my sight immediately the mortuary gate was opened were dead bodies that had been anatomized and kept outside because the morgue had been filled to the brim.

Some of the bodies were laid on wooden couches, while others were stood on the walls of the buildings in the same manner Jesus Christ was fastened on the cross of crucifixion.

The mortuary attendant who took few of my kinsmen to where our cousin’s corpse was deposited for identification, takes up the story: “I see that you are shocked when you saw the dead bodies lying outside.

We did that because there is no more spaces inside. As people come to collect the embalmed bodies of their relations, spaces are created. We now take the bodies outside to fill the vacant spaces.”

The horror was however when we entered inside the mortuary-a large hall, which if it were an event center could contain fifty thousand (50,000) guests. The dead bodies were put in couches and stalked in three layers from down to up.

It’s like specially constructed catacombs where several dead bodies were huddled together waiting for decay.

As we meandered through the narrow spaces in a bid to locate where the body of our cousin was deposited, our hands and legs were touching the stalks of dead bodies. As we moved, I noticed a very fat corpse that was almost falling off its couch as a result of its weight.

Despite being lifeless, its skin was as smooth as silk. It laid as if it were merely sleeping. The mortuary attendant guiding us explained that the dead man was a politician, and that the man’s son brought his dead body to the morgue requesting not to disclose his identity.

The reason for hiding his identity, the attendant told us was because the youths of his community who he had put in misery by stealing the money meant for their upkeep had planned to steal his corpse and do jungle justice to it.

A closer look shows that despite the man’s shining body, his face was contorted in agony, sorrow and regret, perhaps, an indication that he had become remorseful for what he caused his community by his thievery and avarice.

The dead politician’s face writhing in agony reminded me of Dante’s epic book, “Inferno” and his structures of Hell. In the “Inferno” Dante, the Italian poet had arranged his structures of hell in 9 categories, reserving each layer to different categories of sin.

Because of the miseries politicians had caused to humanity through their thievery and avarice, Dante had reserved the hottest parts of hell to politicians where sulfur and brimstone would burn them unceasingly, thus re-enacting the misery they had caused in society.

As we moved closer to where our cousin’s corpse laid, I noticed another striking corpse, a dried elderly woman wearing her rosary on her wrist. Despite looking so dried and haggard, her face exuded peace and contentment, signs that showed she left this world a happy woman.

While we were waiting for the morbid anatomist to perform the final checks before putting our cousin’s corpse in the coffin for onward delivery to home for burial, our conductor, the mortuary attendant called me aside.

He said he noticed that I had been shivering convulsively at the sight of the corpses. “You haven’t seen anything yet,” he said, and took me outside to the back of the building we had just vacated.

He pointed at 3 other large buildings constructed like halls and told me they were all mortuaries with heaps of dead bodies.

He said each of them contained at least 30,000 (Thirty thousand) corpses in different stages of preservation, with some of them having their rigor mortis reoccurring.

He said the last building contained dead bodies which had stayed with them for over two years without their relations coming to claim them.

He said the Management was considering going to court to secure order to allow them bury the corpses in mass graves in order to decongest the overloaded mortuary.

He disclosed that in the past weeks they had transferred some corpses to neighboring mortuaries, lamenting that few days later, the mortuaries returned the corpses to them, citing lack of space.

The attendant said although, in the past years, people had brought their dead for preservation in their mortuary, but stressed that the rate of death had increased exponentially of late and attributed it to President Tinubu’s harsh economic policy which had caused poverty, suffering and death of the masses.

He disclosed that they admit close to 40 corpses each day, stressing that in some cases, they have had to turn back people coming to deposit dead bodies.

While talking about President Tinubu’s harsh economic policy, the Abuja zonal coordinator of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Salihu Muhammed Lawal recently disclosed to journalists that the union lost 46 lecturers, including a professor as a result of ongoing hardship in the country.

Lawal said their death was due to herculean working conditions, psychological and emotional stress and disease related poor working conditions.

He added that many of their members had gone abroad to seek greener pastures instead of staying here and dying of poverty and hunger occasioned by the harsh economic conditions.

To state the obvious, death has become the fastest growing industry in Nigeria. People are dying in droves in the country as a result of poverty and lack of medical attention arising from the bad economic situations.

The other day in Imo State, a community buried 5 of their kinsmen in one day. People die of minor and preventable ailments like headaches, stomach pains, malaria fever, because there’s no money to buy drugs.

Hunger has also taken a toll on the masses as prices of food items had skyrocketed. People no longer see what to eat to keep body and soul together. I had seen a number of decent young men scavenging for food from waste bins.

The other day at Oil Mill Market in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, a boy of about 18 years old bent down and collected half rotten banana he saw at a road side and ate it right on the spot. Cases like that are seen every day in Nigerian cities.

There’s also cases of increase in madness caused by psychological trauma. People had been seen in streets of Port Harcourt walking aimlessly and uttering soliloquies.

Men of God had predicted that hungry people who had never considered stealing, will soon begin to steal to feed themselves and families, some will forcefully pounce on passersby and collect their belongings, while others will invade markets and cart away food items in order not to die of hunger.

While I was about to join my kinsmen to transport our cousin’s corpse home, my conductor, the mortuary attendant hurriedly disclosed to me that they had a union called, Mortuary Owners Association of Nigeria (MOUN), saying information they receive everyday across the country indicates that dead bodies overflow mortuaries in virtually all the states, except some few Northern states who because of religion do not keep dead bodies beyond 48 hours before burial.

All other states in the country, he said, had their mortuaries littered with corpses.

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