How Nigerian Elites eat themselves to Sudden death with high level of ignorance

Nigeria’s Richest Telecommunication Business Mogul, Dr. Mike Adenuga is a ‘Big Man’

Although
early and sudden death from heart attack and complications of hypertension has
been raging wild among Nigerians, especially the affluent or middle class, it
is surprising that very little seems to be done about it on both the individual
and collective levels. Certain factors may explain this rather nonchalant
attitude to a situation that has obviously become an object of anxiety and fear
from very many people.  These factors need
to be recognized and addressed if relevant preventive actions are to be
effectively taken against this twin monster of death and disability. Four of
the factors are particularly important for discussion as follows:


Lack of Knowledge

A humble & Jolly Nigerian Club entrepreneur Hakeem Shodeinde died of kidney failure in 2014

While
many of the victims of stroke and heart attack may be uneducated and therefore
at a disadvantage in obtaining information on these problems, this cannot be
said of the many middle class Nigerians who appear to be the more frequent
victims.  However, the middle class has
not shown better knowledge; in fact, the situation presents middle class
Nigerians as generally lacking in relevant knowledge for dealing with these
conditions.  There is no other conclusion
anyone can reach why such a group who are generally well educated would be so
careless with their health and life. 
There is no doubt that they all value their lives and quality
living.  I do not think that anyone,
middle class or not, would intentionally engage in a lifestyle that compromises
his/her health and life so gravely.  We
must therefore plead ignorance on the part of the numerous Nigerians who
cheaply fall victims to avoidable stroke and heart attack.
For
example, the one-time acquaintance of mine who I referred to in the first part
of this work as nursing and proudly carrying his bulging abdomen as a badge of honor
certainly did not know how much he risked heart attack and/or stroke from
hypertension.  If I had the time for
explanation, the only question that was on my mind for him was: “Why do you do this to yourself?”  I am certain he did not know the danger he
had put himself although he was a university graduate who occupied the high
position of a Sole Administrator of a local government area.  I believe that most Nigerians who literally
eat themselves to death and disability or engage in other lifestyles that are
associated with sudden death from heart attack and stroke are in the same
position of ignorance, their attainment of high educational degrees
notwithstanding.
Lack of Appropriate
Attitudinal Orientation

Late Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha, a Nigerian Politician died of heart attack in 2015

It
cannot be truly said that all the Nigerians who defy the dangers of stroke and
heart attack to engage in lifestyle that predisposes them to these conditions
are ignorant.  In fact, many of them are
adequately knowledgeable about the conditions and their ramifications, yet
still handicapped by lack of suitable attitude needed for appropriate
action.  A very good example was the case
of a medical doctor from an adjacent clan to mine.  He was trained overseas and was in his
mid-thirties when he established his practice shortly after his return in the
mid 80’s. He was noted for being particularly sociable, which somehow helped
his practice and he was soon economically well off.
Although
we were not bosom friends, we were close enough for me to know that he was
seriously hypertensive in his mid-forties. 
That did not stop him from eating anything, frequently drinking and
partying almost round the clock, since money was no object, so to say. It was
not much of a shock to me that he died suddenly one night, reportedly after
collapsing in a night club.  I am not
sure if he died of massive stroke or heart attack but it must be one of them.
He
may not represent the average medical doctor, but no one would say that he did
not know the dangers of hypertension or the probability of heart attack
associated with the nature of his lifestyle. 
Irrespective of his knowledge, his attitudinal orientation was not
attuned with that knowledge.  I would not
be surprised if he did not comply with his medication for hypertension.  And I will be surprised if as a medical
doctor he did not know about the dangers of high cholesterol or if he ever
checked his cholesterol level.  He died
when he was barely over forty years of age. His may be an extreme case but it
somehow typifies the attitude of most Nigerians about their health, especially
where living the so-called good life is concerned.

Quick Treatment saves lives

The
common mindset of most Nigerians is to live life to the fullest as much as you
can. That is good; but must it be in the form of unrestrained eating, drinking
and other social excesses?  Should
momentary pleasure be put before health, life and longevity, especially when we
know the negative implications of that lifestyle? I have heard many people philosophically
explain the emptiness of life by stating: “Only what you eat is actually yours”.  Borrowing the idea from the Bible, we must
ask ourselves: “What does it benefit a
man to eat, drink and enjoy himself to premature and sudden death?”
Cultural Value for
Conspicuous Consumption

Dr. Jimoh Ibrahim (M) is an influential and big bodied Nigerian

A
recent CNN report indicated that a world-wide study found that Nigerians are
the happiest people on earth.  How nice
to know!  But what are the criteria for
this ranking?  I am still trying to lay
hands on the specific rating criteria for that study.  I believe that the numerous boisterous
parties and flamboyant lifestyle of ours was probably major part of the
assessment tool.  Or more relevantly, the
eating and drinking habit of Nigerians, which derives from the general belief
in most of the cultures that: “Life is short, only what you eat is actually
yours”.
Consequently, as much as you can afford it, eating the most and
the best foods is like the best thing you can do for yourself.  It is therefore not expected that anyone
should hold back on eating the good things of life; only if you cannot afford
it.  Hence one’s socio-economic success
should be physically self-evident in the form of the so-called evidence of good
living.

The Body System

Protruding
abdomen, even for women, commands respect. Heavy adipose tissue making the skin
full and shining is something you cannot miss in affluent Nigerians.  It is amazing to hear how ordinary folks
adore this evidence of good living:  If
you see im skin, you no se im node sofa again!
  It appears that the worst thing that a
Nigerian who “has made it” can do to
self is to remain slim as if he or she cannot get enough to eat.  If a person who everyone knows to have made
it remains slim, that is regarded as painful evidence that the person is very
stingy, even to self!  Not many people want
to put themselves in that embarrassing position.  It is not that middle class Nigerians simply
want to earn the praise of others by eating and drinking themselves into
obesity; they inherently enjoy eating and subscribe to the cultural value of
conspicuous consumption.

The Longer the Belt the Shorter the life

Unfortunately,
little do the Nigerians with “evidence of
good living”
know about the harm they do to their health, life and quality
of life.  Apart from the risk of
hypertension and heart attack, overweight or obesity is a primary cause of
innumerable health problems.  For
example, diabetes, arthritis, some types of cancer, and various respiratory
diseases are only a few of the health problems associated with obesity.  In addition, fat people are more prone to
different forms of aches and pains, fractures from accidental falls and
premature death from various causes.  In
fact, a common axiom in health education circles is: “The longer the belt, the shorter
the life”.
 Unfavorable Attitude
toward Maintenance and Preventive Health Care

A regime of medication could save a sufferer

One
other important contributory factor to stroke and heart attack among Nigerians
is our fundamental belief or disbelief about health, illness and health
care.  Traditionally, most Nigerians
believe that they are healthy as long as they suffer no pain or some other
obvious evidence of illness.  It is
therefore difficult for many of us to take such conditions as high blood
pressure seriously even when we are told that we have it.  In most cases, hypertension does not cause
obvious problems, even after being so diagnosed.  Very often, for lack of accurate language,
high blood pressure is explained to patients as “having too much blood”, which usually does not make sense, unless
the person is obese.  In that case, the
person tends to think that his excess weight is probably due to excessive blood
and simply wonders why he cannot just donate some blood periodically and be
alright!
When
people do not see or feel evidence of being ill, it is difficult for them to
take the probable threat from a disease and the treatment process serious.  Hence, such people have problems complying
with medical check ups and treatment regimen. 
They are simply not convinced that they are at risk or committed to
doing anything to avoid the probable complications of the disease.

The Circulatory System….Often blocked with too much meat on the body

Another
common cultural belief is that if you have the right medicine for a disease, it
should be cured.  When you have the
so-called high blood pressure or some heart disease, for which you have to take
medicines all your life, there is often some doubt about the reality of the
disease and the efficacy of the medical intervention.  This too is a common source of noncompliance
with medical check-ups and medication regimen. 
When the person actually feels healthy and probably having good time,
his belief in the presence of a disease and commitment to the treatment
procedure is usually low. These problems are usually worse when we talk about
maintenance and preventive health measures. 
In health care, preventive measures are generally difficult to sell and
this is particularly so with most Nigerians. 
People simply do not think that they can be affected by the disease in
question.  They have never been affected
and therefore do not consider themselves at risk. Even the conditions of stroke
and heart attack, which have been ravaging the population, especially the
middle class in recent years, are not considered by many as personal threat,
though they may be secretly scarred, having known friends, acquaintances, and
even relatives who have been victims.  It
would appear that the attitude of “not for me” is simply a
defense mechanism.  Obviously, that
attitude is unrealistic and not good enough.

Eminent Nigerians eats hard to the detriment of their health

(From the Book; “Early and Sudden Death; the Price of
Affluence
among Nigerians”.Read
“New Ways to prevent Stroke & Heart Attack” in our next post on Asabeafrika)

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here