One of my lecturers in the Department of English at the University of Lagos where I did my undergraduate studies was Dr (Mrs) Yewande Ntekim-Rex.
When I read the news broke by Roy Mustang of the death of David Ntekim-Rex by armed robbers in the Jibowu area of Lagos. The similarity of the surname struck me and I hoped that he won’t be in any way related to her.
My worst fears were confirmed when Roy, a cousin of the deceased said that he was the middle son of the academic. According to him, the deceased — a 22 year old brilliant systems engineer was dropped off by a friend at Jibowu and he was to take a bus home when he met his waterloo by heartless robbers who were interested in his Samsung phone which he was pressing to navigate his way through the dark road and was murdered when he allegedly resisted to give it to them.
He was left in the pool of his own blood with the police watching while he bled profusely. According to his cousin in an expose by Sahara Reporters, they were more interested in the contents of his laptop and wanted to be sure that he was not an internet fraudster popularly known as yahoo boys. His distraught mother concerned that he hadn’t yet returned home was called that her beloved son was gasping for breath by the roadside and he was taken to the military hospital where he was rejected on the grounds that he was a gunshot victim and they couldn’t be certain whether he was an armed robber or not. On getting to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), there was a delay by the medical personnel which led to his untimely and avoidable death.
In 2018, Ntekim-Rex beat 17,000 contestants from around the world, including finalists from Brazil, Germany, India, Japan, Nepal, and the United States to emerge as the co-regional winner of the annual Master the Mainframe competition, organised by AngelHack and IBM Z Academic Initiative.
Why does Nigeria kill its best and brightest? In a developed clime, he would have been financially comfortable with his extremely high level of brilliance and angel investors would have been at his beck and call flocking to fund his ideas. Alas he was unfortunate to have been domiciled in a failed state where cows are more values than precious human lives! This was a brilliant young graduate of Systems Engineering at the University of Lagos who didn’t use his brilliance for crime which could have fetched him a fortune as majority of the yahoo boys who to use the Nigerian parlance are ‘cashing out big time’ don’t have one-tenth of his brilliance. He chose to toe the honest path as his LinkedIn profile showed that he was working for Crevatal, a Lagos based technology firm. Was it a crime to do the needful by going to school and staying off crime? His mother has diligently taught at the University of Lagos for close to three decades; is the best way the system can repay her?
Life in Nigeria — the current poverty capital of the world is extremely cheap and it is worse for the poor and even the ‘Middle Class’ who do not have access to adequate resources to protect themselves from the dangerous elements that make life here brutish, nasty and short to quote Thomas Hobbes. Nigerians are killed with a systemic failure to either prevent their deaths which we always attribute to the will of God or the ever elusiveness of the killers who heartlessly perpetrate the dastardly acts. There is no emergency number like the 911 in the United States for the masses to call the police with when in distress as they are left at the mercy of their attackers. The level of wickedness is enough to frighten even the Devil himself.
Nigeria is faced with a plethora of IT challenges. Look at the recent NIN policy which the NiMC is handling which could have been better handled by an effective deployment of IT to avoid the crowds that can lead to a surge in the covid 19 cases. The brilliance of David would have come in very handy here but the system chose to snuff life out of him while in his prime. How tragic!
The death of David is a sad reminder to many hardworking and honest Nigerians that they can be the next victim as the system doesn’t protect them in any way since we are all our own local governments. We feed ourselves even when we have no economic opportunities, provide our water by sinking boreholes or buying them from the itinerant vendors, provide our security etc. We are vulnerable on a daily basis and can be taken out at any time without warning as we live in extremely cruel times with an uncaring government. We are forced by the exigencies of the times to be less humane to our fellow countrymen because the system doesn’t take kindly to such acts of kindness. We have heard gory and heart wrenching tales of Good Samaritans who help distressed gunshot victims only for them to be implicated and labeled as robbery accomplices.
There were talks by late David’s parents for him to be sent abroad but his death put paid any plan to that. As long as there is a systemic failure, the best brains will continue to seek refuge in North America, Europe, Asia and even South Africa or neighbouring Ghana. A friend with whom I spent the formative years of my life with quit his plum job with Zenith Bank after he spent a decade there and now works as a machine operator and forklift driver in New Brunswick, Canada. When I asked him whether he has job fulfillment, he replied that the system protects him and his young family better. He bought a house in less than three years of being there which he didn’t do in a decade of here. Crime rate is relatively lower there and where it happens, he has the system behind his back to protect him from being in harm’s way. I could not but agree with him and in the view of the security challenges, one is critically considering the option of relocating for good.
As usual his killers would never be found and the nation will move on as though he never lived since the system has decided to turn us into heartless beasts!
May his gentle soul find eternal rest in the Lord’s Bosom!
Tony Ademiluyi wrote from Lagos