Augustine C. OhanweFriday, October 22, 2010



eaders of certain countries have stood up against some forms of imminent, external and domestic threats to the lives and property of their citizens. When Hitler sang the Nazi Party national anthem, Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles (German, German, Above All Else), Winston Churchill quickly understood the veiled threat in the anthem’s lyrics and fervently sang in response, ”God Save the King.”


Even though Churchill invoked God to save his people, he did not abandon the fate of his citizens to the invisible hand of God. Instead, he tightened his girdle and took the posture of combatant readiness. When Hitler unleashed air attacks against Britain, Churchill was quick to inaugurated The Battle of Britain in which the British Royal Air Force Fighter Command humbled the German’s Luftwaffe and stalled their design to conquer and occupy south of Britain. Cigar and V sign are his Churchill’s trademark.

Recently, the walls of San Jose mine in Chile caved in, and enveloped 33 of its miners in its dark and cold womb. Chileans prayed for the lives of their buried miners.They did not define the tragedy as an ”Act of God,” and abandon the miners to dwell there and get rotten in such a dishonourable grave, as could have been in some countries where their religious beliefs compel them to shift dire situations that requires urgent reflection and prompt action to an unseen God to remedy.

President Sebastian Pinera of Chile does not belong to the group that abdicate its duty to an unseen force. He believes that God is both visible and invisible and had used his action in the San Jose mine incident to prove his theorems of universal algebra.

He placed all his Executive functions in abeyance and upgraded the fate of his country’s 33 miners to a front-burner issue. He then positioned himself within the vicinity of the collapsed mine and took charge of the operation. His presence there offered succour to the grieving families of the trapped miners and upped the ante in the Chileans mind that they have a president who cares for the ruled The organisation and administration of the scene where the mine collapse has a superlative touch. For the miners to be lifted out, and came face-face with their president, had its own healing touch on the miners. Watching the president’s demeanour, one could notice that he was elated and could not contain the huge tidal waves of emotion his action and presence has generated.

The sole lesson he had taught us is that nationals of a state are most constitutive element, and not just palaces and gold or the race for six-figure-bank saldo.

Does president Pinera need to stand on the podium to tell Chileans that he loves and cares for them? No. Action speaks louder than voice. This is a lesson my beloved country, Nigeria should glean from Chile’s recent success story.

A government that ignores, and does not protect the lives and property of its citizens will find it difficult to harvest the fruit of patriotism.

Governments that relegate their citizens to the sickening level of second class citizens should come to terms that there are laws in place that protect even lower animals such as owls, whales, wolves, gorillas and even eggs of certain endangered species of birds, sea turtles, etc. They enjoy first class protection more than most of us who are categorized as higher animals.

In 2006, Mexico took a bold step to protect butterflies in its territory. It trained park rangers and equipped them with assault rifles and body armours strapped to their chests. The 18 officers were among the world’s most heavily armed park rangers. They were trained to guard one of the world’s most delicate creatures – the monarch butterflies. The rangers needed sophisticated weapons to protect the winter nesting place of millions of beautiful orange and blacked winged butterflies from the nefarious activities of the illegal loggers whose actions of deforestation threatened the butterflies’ biosphere.

We live in a world of sharing and borrowing. The recent event in Chile is worthy of emulation. Minna in the north, has gold mines. Enugu, in the south east has coal mines. There are various others mines scattered over the country that should acquire the capsule Chileans used to rescue their 33 miners. President Pinares has made it crystal clear to Sky News that Chile is willing to be of use to any nation. In his own words, ”If they think we can be of use to them, they should count on us.” He added, ”Our success is a good example of commitment, courage, faith, hope and unity.”

Help can not be imposed. Only those who sincerely need help, can be helped.