December 30, 2023

Dear Emmanuel Makama,

I bring you greetings and good tidings as a friend and brother from your state-Nasarawa.

It might come to you as a shock why I have decided to write you an open letter but before I proceed I wish to establish some context so you can understand my position and pain.

Being an indigene of Nasarawa state who lived, schooled, and worked in Lafia, I have been a fan of Nasarawa United Football club for a very long time. Although I am not devoted to watching football, I play football and support the state team. In fact, Nasarawa United is one among the 2 teams I support, the other being the Super Eagles. This is the reason why I always have no clue when anything about International football is discussed. As a supporter of the Nasarawa United Football Club, there were a few times when I could not afford to pay the gate fee to watch you guys play at the Lafia Township stadium but I broke some rules to jump the stadium fence just to watch and support you guys. Although I do not watch football these days, I have seen you and your teammates make the state proud. You guys have always been our heroes.

The Late Martins

This brings me to the reason why I have chosen to publicly write to you. A few days ago, we watched with fright, tears, and anger, a young and vibrant member of your team struggled with breath until he died. The video shows how people who were around circled him and opened his mouth. My assumption from that video is that they wanted him to breathe through his mouth. It was also shocking to see that some people in that video wore Red Cross uniforms. Were they Red Cross staff? No one in that crowd could perform basic first aid and CPR until medical teams arrived? Ohh!! I forgot I guess there were medical teams on the ground because an ambulance was sighted. Although from the picture, the ambulance needed help from people to function. Pardon me if my assumptions are wrong. Other videos show the Nasarawa United team members crying when Martins passed away. It is a sad time for all of us because we have lost a hero. I have lost one of the heroes from my state.

Following all we have seen from the videos, it is clear to me that Martins would have survived if he received the right first aid. However, we all failed Martins because his death like many others was AVOIDABLE.

It has been days and there has been silence everywhere regarding why Martins had to die the way he did. I am writing to you because of your esteemed position as the CAPTAIN of the state team. Although I can appreciate your position being under the payroll of the government, I have the following questions:

1. As a captain, did you always make sure that your team had proper medical attention in and outside the field of play?

2. As a Captain, do you ensure that the right support is there for your team before and after every match? This support is not inclusive of just glucose and water. I mean thorough support including, having doctors, nurses, and paramedics with a FUNCTIONAL ambulance? The convoy of the state governor is always accompanied by a functional ambulance and a medical doctor on standby wherever he goes. Is this the same for your team?

3. Are you aware that what happened to Martins could happen again if the root cause is not addressed?

4. As a captain, don’t you think that some people need to answer questions as to why Martins died that way?

5. As a captain, what have you done and doing currently to ensure this does not happen again?

6. As a captain, how are you showing leadership to your team regarding this loss?

Being a common citizen, I do not have the power you do and that is why I have resorted to simply writing to you. I hope that you will use your privileged position to provide answers to some of these questions. You do not need to write back but be rest assured that when you begin to show action, it will be noticed.

I can understand your position where you might be unable to dive into some territories considering the conflict of interest that could emanate. All I simply ask is that you show some leadership here and now to avert similar occurrences in the future.

I leave you with a quote from Martins Neimoller who coincidentally bears the same name with the hero we lost:

“First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me”

Feel free to draw the lessons that accompany this quote.

Thank you for attending to my short letter.

Your fellow Nasarawan,

Aaron Akpu Philip.

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