Opaleye’s close shave with death
AYODELE Babatunde Opaleye’s case could be defined as a shattered dream and a national service went sour. It was an experience that the former National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member, who had a close shave with death in a ghastly motor accident on his way to his place of primary assignment in Oturkpo, said one could not wish even for his worst enemy.
With his right eye gone, Ayodele is today devastated because the accident did not only shatter his dreams, but has also placed a heavy debt burden on his family.
According to his father, a retired staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the total debt burden on the family is between N17 to N18 million.
Ayodele’s mother, Madam Florence Olusola, who could not hold back her tears when The Guardian visited their home at Ijede, Ikorodu, Lagos State said her son’s survival was a miracle, because he was already taken for dead before help came his way.
Although perturbed by the damage done to her son by the accident, the petty trader said her son’s survival was a show of the marvelous work of the Almighty, who would never allow his own to be ashamed.
Ayodele, a Linguistics graduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife in Osun State, said he was part of the Batch B corps members that were posted to Benue State shortly after his graduation in 2011.
He said: “After attending the mandatory three weeks orientation training at Wanunne Orientation Camp in 2012, we were on our way to St John’s Anglican Secondary School, Oturkpo that Monday, July 23, 2012, where I was to do my primary assignment, before the unthinkable happened.”
According to the 25-year-old, shortly after the pass-out parade in the camp, they waited for government’s vehicle to no avail, “then about 14 of us decided to follow a Missionary bus belonging to the Anglican Corpers’ Fellowship of Nigeria.”
“Just about an hour on the journey to Oturkpo en-route Makurdi, the vehicle skidded off the road, tumbled several times in the bush and I naturally passed out and was unconscious for a week.”
“I understand that I was rushed to Benue State University Teaching Hospital, Makurdi and was later moved to Memfyst Hospital, Enugu for neurosurgery. A few days later, another victim of the accident named Etinu was also rushed to the hospital in Enugu. Out of the 14 corps members, two died instantly while four of us were seriously injured. They are, Ali whose leg was cut, Atinu and Chinwe.”
“I spent three months in Enugu, then moved to Lagos for another two months, spent one month at home and later travelled to India in January 2013 for series of surgeries, where I spent three months, where the doctors identified a spinal related injury not detected in the hospital in Nigeria”, he recalled.
During his stay at Fortis Hospital Vasantkunj, New Delhi, India, Ayodele did bone grafting, skin grafting and vein grafting surgeries.
He also spent another two months for follow-up treatment in 2014 and was due to go again in April 2015, but could not make it for paucity of funds.
He said: “I lost 14 teeth to the accident and I now am wearing artificial teeth. Although I am alright now after the surgeries, but I normally feel feverish and I was told I need proper follow-up for five years in India,” he added.
Ayodele is, however, not happy that government could abandon him to his fate, after the then Benue State NYSC coordinator, Mrs. Nnenna Ukaonu visited the hospital in Nigeria and brought N1.5 million for the two corps members in the hospital in Enugu.
He said: “ That was all that we heard from the NYSC. The only communication afterwards was that state coordinator was sending my monthly allowances to my bank account and the NYSC discharge certificate was sent to me through the Lagos office, but was sent back to Abuja because of some mistakes on it.”
“I am perplexed by the action of NYSC because I was serving the government when the accident occurred.”
“That I was still in my NYSC khaki and on my way to the place of my primary assignment made the situation more pathetic, I should not be left like that. So much has been spent through loans from friends, family and banks.”
“ Government should come to our aid. I need monetary compensation of the expenses and a good job to sustain me in life in order to move on with my life since I can still do a lot part from the loss of my right eye. I should not be left at home,
I still do have a lot to offer to the nation,” he pleaded.
But Ayodele’s father, Mr. Opaleye Rotimi Kolawole, who was thankful that his son is still alive, said the accident spoilt what should have been a good day for the family.
According to him, these are trying times for the family.
“We have spent all we could muster since that incident from the hospital in Enugu to Aruna Ogun Memorial Specialist Hospital, Ikorodu, not to talk about spending two months at Crown Hospital Iyana-Ipaja for skin grafting.”
In India, there was bone grafting and some skin was removed from his back to fix his face, too. As an corps member, my son is a property of government and should not be abandoned,” he pleaded.
“A lot of things have happened since then, the NYSC was only able to raise N1.5 million for the two boys when after five days, I was told to come and carry the boy in Enugu even when he was still in intensive care for lack of funds. So, I went borrowing from banks, family members and cooperatives.”
“At the last count, I am indebted to the tune of N19 million.”
In between, I have travelled to Abuja and met the Corps Welfare Officer, who told me that insurance for every corps member is N50, 000 for a year, he said he was helpless that government did not release money, he asked me to source money that, may be later on, government could repay us,” Ayodele’s father lamented.
“ I am a retired staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). The debt is still there and the interest is accumulating.”
“I want the Federal Government to come to our aid and repay the money as well as find a good job for him.
“I am thankful to God that Ayodele’s brain is still in perfect condition and he cannot continue to stay at home,” he added.