Temitope: Another Corps Member Cut Down In Her Prime
TEMITOPE Balikis Lamina bore the torch of happiness among her friends. Born 21 years ago in Lagos, she strived to understand the human mind, solve the little problems she could and deploy a rare facility with words, to sooth pains, stir laughter and crack life’s dizzying puzzles.
From her days at Ambassadors Primary School, to Iganmode Grammar School, Ota, to Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, to the University of Benin, she wielded an outstanding intellect that saw her curry double promotions, clinch prizes and, finally, finish among the top five in her graduating year at the Mass Communication department in the university.
But, in what her family and friends described as the darkest day of their lives yet, Temitope was untimely snatched from them by the cold hands of death in a ghastly road accident along Kaduna-Sokoto expressway while reporting back to her duty post at Rima Television in Sokoto, where she was observing the one year national youth service.
She had traveled home after due documentation to celebrate her mother’s safe return from Hajj. She was returning to base after being called up to form the core of a team of corps members who would coordinate orientation for the latest batch of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members in Sokoto State.
Eyewitnesses said that passengers in the Golf car, which Tope boarded, were asleep when the vehicle rammed into a lorry carrying cows. The surviving passengers woke up to find themselves in a nearby bush, with various degrees of injuries. Only Temitope died. The car, they said, had to be cut open to retrieve her remains.
When The Guardian visited the family’s Ota, Ogun State, home, her grieving family asked what could be crueler than losing a child, who was an ‘inspiration’, and whose grace and charm radiated, not just within her immediate family, but also among friends, colleagues and acquaintances.
Temitope’s father, who is a senior sales executive at New Telegraph newspaper, quaked as he spoke glowingly about a daughter that could have taken over from him and excelled in the media industry.
According to him, “I decided that my children wouldn’t go to public primary and secondary schools, because I value education. I worked in the media, and because I could only afford a diploma while I was with Concord newspapers in the North, I have had to endure playing second fiddle to young university graduates, who headed the various media establishments. I made up my mind to take up bricklaying, if that was what I could use to afford sound education for my children. Tope was the brightest of them all. I ensured she was enrolled in the best of schools. When she showed interest in the media, particularly in broadcasting, I was relieved that I would have one of my children who would go the lengths in the industry that I could only dream about.
“She worked towards her goals. I was proud to see her name among the credits at news programmes on African Independent Television (AIT), while she was an intern there. She would tell me not to worry, that she was on track to achieve her dreams. It pains to lose such a child. But, so far, we are not God; we can only hope that she is happy wherever she is. I believe it is God that gives and takes. If I could, I would have stopped the death. I was always praying to God to make her live long because Tope had the luck of finishing school at a young age.”
He said he had premonition of danger and asked Temitope to pray before she travelled. In obedience to the advice, she decided to move the date of the journey from Saturday to Sunday, and fasted to ward off evil.
He noted, “I called her elder sister, who was also serving in Kebbi, and asked her to pray too, warning her not to go too far from her Place of Primary Assignment (PPA). It was unfortunate that the incident occurred. On the day she was to travel, I went to her room and found her already prepared. The journey was top priority for her. She was always determined and set her mind to whatever she wanted to do.”
He said there have been efforts by National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) officials in Kebbi State to fast track the deceased sister’s redeployment to a nearby state, so the family wouldn’t have to worry about her or live in perpetual fear of a double-tragedy during the service year.
Late Temitope’s mother, Rahliat Lamina, who, hard as she tried, couldn’t hold back tears, said more than her other siblings, the deceased understood her needs and above all, was a determined child, who kept her eyes on the mark.
According to her, “She understood me; she was so helpful. She understood my health condition and searched the Internet for solutions. She would come and tell me what I needed. Some of the medications she prepared for me are still in the refrigerator. She was so knowledgeable. She would make cakes for her brothers.
“I believed in her. Before she left, she collected N2000 to fix her hair, and the hairdresser told me later that the job was worth more than my daughter paid. So, anytime Tope came to me for money, I told her that I would collect all the money I spent on her. See me, now?”
She continued, “While I was in the Holy Land, I called her to ask when she was coming home. She said she wasn’t going to come home until after Ileya. When I came back, she was around and she asked me to rest. She said she would be spending a month here, but she came one day to tell me that she would be going back, that her attention was needed in orientation for new corps members.
“Who will say that I did not pray enough in Hajj; I prayed. When you come back from Hajj, you have 41 days to pray for people. That was why we were rest assured.”
Mohammed Lamina, Temitope’s immediate younger brother, said his late sister was his motivation, a perfect sibling anyone could ask for. He would miss her knack for understanding and protecting the ones she loved.
He said, “She was ready to do anything for us. She was a sister I looked up to. I always wanted to better her records. Anything I do in academics, I always strived to break her records. It wasn’t jealousy; it’s just that it was cool to better an elder’s feat. She would always light up a dull house. She was that sweet.”