Here’s a list of eminent Nigerians that had lost their lives to cancer in recent years
Cancer, like the proverbial Yoruba god of thunder, Sango is a plague whose frightening story is better told by people who had seen it struck while its destructive prowess get downplayed often by people who had not experienced it before.
This writer lost a beloved aunt to this heart-wrenching disease in 2006 and as one of the caregivers understands the untold sufferings and psychological trauma cancer patients and their relatives go through before they finally die.
As the world celebrated the World Cancer Day on the 4th of February, we write this piece in tribute to notable national icons and heroes who lost a battle of survival to this disease.
PRESIDENT UMARU MUSA YAR’ADUA
Nigeria’s former president and a two-time governor of Katsina state died of this deadly disease on May 5, 2010 after a protracted medical battle. He died of Lung Cancer at 58.
Unarguably Nigeria’s most flamboyant and fashionable first lady, Maryam, the Asaba-born wife of the former military president also known as “Maradona”, Ibrahim Babangida was lost to the cold hands of death by Ovarian Cancer on December 27, 2009 in a Los Angeles, United States hospital.
The wife of the activist former governor of Edo State died of cancer at the age of 54. The debilitating disease had a toll on her programs and visibility as the wife of a sitting governor before her unfortunate demise.
Okosun, the writer of the famous 1977 song, “Fire In Soweto”, the piece that shot him into international stardom is one of this illustrious list of cancer deaths.
Okosun who later became a gospel artiste, lost the ultimate battle to cancer of the colon at Howard University, Hospital in Washington DC on May 24, 2008 aged 61.
Legal luminary, civil rights activist, publisher, social critic. Former presidential candidate and the acclaimed “Senior Advocate of the Masses’ died after an unsuccessful battle with cancer with cancer on September 5, 2009. He was 71 years old.
PROF. DORA AKUNYILI
First-rate pharmacist, university teacher and a dogged fighter against contraband drugs and illegal food and medical goods died at the age of 59 in an Indian Hospital on June 7, 2014. Her death was rued by the whole nation as she was a valiant and incorruptible woman who put her life in the line countless times in the service of her country.
Accomplished banker and politician, Olayinka, a former Deputy Governor of Ekiti state during the Fayemi-led administration succumbed to cancer on April 6, 2013 at the age of 55.
DR BEEKOLOLARI RANSOME-KUTI
A scion of the illustrious Ransome-Kuti family, Beeko, as he was fondly called, was a Medical Doctor who recorded giant strides in human rights activism. He died on February 10, 2006 at the age of 65 at the Lagos State University, Idi-Araba, Lagos due to complications from Lung Cancer.
This list, a very minute compilation of the long list of Nigerian deaths due to cancer, features the rich and the very influential who could afford oversea cancer treatments. Does this mean cancer is a disease of the affluent alone? No! In fact, cancer kills more people in the lower economic quadrant than the affluent due to obvious reasons of lack of education, poor access to healthcare, poverty, superstitious beliefs etc.
Approximately 100 Nigerians are said to die every hour according to a griming statistics from a new health studies. This means that an estimated 2400 deaths per day, 72000 deaths per month and 864000 deaths annually.
The ways to tackle the disease include investing in cancer research, adequately remunerating medical personnel, opening of more cancer testing centers, purchase of modern medical equipment, and raising more cancer awareness campaigns and most importantly, demonstrate the political will to overhaul dilapidated and inefficient healthcare system.
Political leaders should stop playing politics of and with everything especially something that involves the lives and well-being of the citizenry. As is evident, death due to cancer is a general and impartial distributor and arbiter. It respects no class, or power neither does it spare the impoverished or take ransom from the rich.