Death by Service


The past week has been a difficult on to endure for many Nigerians. From the optimism of elections to the depression of post-election violence. With a heavy heart we re-collect our one year of service to the fatherland through the National Youth Service Corps programme. It appeared to be a masterstroke in innovative thinking to ask corpers to become ad-hoc staff for the Independent National Election Commission for the elections. But  no one quite prepared us for this….for death by service.

In the aftermath of the elections in Nigeria, several young Nigerians like Ikechukwu and Okpokiri below have been murdered in the service of their country. Like all of us who have had the luxury of tertiary education in Nigeria, they were sent to another part of the country to serve and promote our unity. They wore their khaki pants and white tshirts proudly, swearing allegiance to our federal republic, flagging their caps in camp, serving the communities and their country.

On Nigeria Health Watch, we mourn them but also ask ourselves one simple question;

What is the collective mental health of a people that are capable of such violence?

As we search for answers to the political challenges in our society, we must also search for answers to the more fundamental issues. What is it that makes us human, that enables emotions of empathy and love, that creates societies of peace and co-existence. How can we recreate our common humanity in peace and co-existence? We wonder why our leaders are quite and the press timid. Where are the voices of peace? Where are the real leaders in our society that will stand up and reflect the principles of Ubuntu – our interconnectedness – the essence of our being human.
How can we create the society we seek….together?
REST in PEACE guys…

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (, which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

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