Many of you are returning to work today after an extended four-day weekend made possible by the Christian celebration of Jesus Christ’s supreme sacrifice for the redemption of the world. Today, I will tell you about a man who gave his life for you and me — just that we don’t know him, much less acknowledge or celebrate his sacrifice.
For 12-and-a-half years, his parents were childless. His father, rich at the time and the proud owner of two cars, withstood pressure from his family to take another wife. “No way”, he told them. “Child or no child, my wife and I share a love that will continue like that.”
But his wife eventually conceived. When she put to bed, it was a boy. That was on July 9, 1985.
Twenty-six years later, boy decides to join the Nigerian army, and he is soon drafted into the hunt for Boko haram insurgents. Once, in late 2014, he escaped death by the skin of his teeth, crawling more than four miles to safety after a brutal Boko Haram attack. He bruised his hands and legs in the process but after a few weeks in the hospital, he returned to the battlefield in January 2015.
On February 14, 2015 — perhaps at a time when many of us were snuggled up to our lovers or even busy ‘going the whole hog’ — he readied himself for one more onslaught on Boko Haram. Ahead of that trip, he wrote on social media: Well, nothing more 2say, we are going back 2 recapture our #monguno base 2day, I must fulfill my vow 4my country…my faith is one and ever! THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA.
It turned out to be his very last operation; he never returned. On March 19, 2015, he was buried in Maiduguri. This was a man who died fulfilling his vow to his country. Did his country fulfill its to him? More than two years since he fell in battle, the army has not paid his family their entitlement. But that’s not why I’m writing.
As part of field work for my book on the insurgency, I recently met the late soldier’s mother in Amansiodo Village in Ezeaga LGA of Enugu (pictured) and — much as I tried — I failed to hold back my tears. Even my sturdily-built friend who accompanied me on the trip couldn’t, too. This woman, despite ‘donating’ her son to this country, has cataract and is gradually going blind. Doctors have said she will lose her right eye if it isn’t operated upon soon enough. Tragically, it is her slain son who always promised to take care of that eye!
“He promised me that he would care for me because of my eyes,” the grief-stricken woman told me. “But I look around me every day and I don’t see him again. There’s no one to help me again. I don’t know what I’ll do; I’m tired.”
I was so moved by her anguish that I’ve chosen to momentarily forget that the interviews were meant for an upcoming book, and instead let out this bit for public consumption. I have decided to raise funds for this woman’s eye operation. If we raise more than the medical cost, she’ll have the rest for upkeep.
And I do not see it as service if we give to this woman; I consider it OUR RESPONSIBILITY. I can explain it.
I’ve noticed that south-westerners often underestimate the scale of the havoc that the bellicose Abubakar Shekau was bent on unleashing on this country. Having travelled to Borno extensively, I can confirm that were it not for the thousands of soldiers laying down their lives in the north-east, the insurgency would surely have spread to the south-west. And maybe I would be dead by now. Maybe even you reading this would be a corpse already. We have enjoyed peace in these parts because some people gave their lives up; if there’s a chance to show their families some gratitude, let’s try!
If you’re willing to donate to the mother of this slain soldier, please inbox me on Facebook (or email me: email@example.com — no letter ‘r’) and I will send you the family’s account details within 24 hours. And not just am I making a public appeal for funds — I will send my own contribution as well.
Finally, anyone who donates can be sure of accountability. On my honour! When all this is over, I will put up a public post detailing how much we’ve succeeded in generating.
Are you doubting that this soldier deserves your money, particularly in this period of economic recession? Well, I personally have no doubt — because he is my Jesus Christ. He gave up his life for me, why can’t I give up my money for him?