As a youth corps member in Yobe, Boko Haram made me blind, now Govt is cuddling them, victim, Adeigba laments
•Seeks N15m to restore vision
Mr. Daniel Adeigba from Kogi West Senatorial district of Kogi State, is a graduate of Kogi State University. The graduate of History and International Relations is married with two children and is resident with his family in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital. In describing himself, Adeigba said “I am a blind man, a victim of insurgency during my national youth service.” He tells his story to SAM NWAOKO in this interview. Excerpts:
What’s your story?
I was posted to Yobe State in the 2010/2011 service year for the mandatory national service of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme. At the completion of our training at the NYSC orientation camp, I was among those adopted as ad hoc staff members of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2011 general election that brought in former President Goodluck Jonathan. On my way to the training for the conduct of the election, I fell victim of insurgency at the Potiskum – Damaturu road. The vehicle we were travelling in was pursued by insurgents until the driver lost control of the vehicle and it crashed. The accident took my sight and I also broke my right arm. Only two of us survived the accident. Some other corps members in the vehicle died. I was just lucky, because they took me to the hospital as dead but I came to while in the hospital.
The accident happened on Tuesday 4th January 2011. So, I have been blind since January 2011. I have been like this for nine years. I served in Yobe State and I am surprised and dismayed that after having served meritoriously, and having fallen victim of insurgency as a serving corps member, nothing has been done by the Federal Government to help restore my sight or find a way to rehabilitate me.
After medical investigations, I found that there is hope that I could see again going by what I was told by experts at a hospital in London. As an orphan, there’s nowhere I could raise the N15 million that the experts said would make the surgery happen. That is why I have been like this since 2011.
So, what do you want?
I need help to raise the money for my surgery that would restore my sight. However, I felt the proposal by Senator Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State that repentant Boko Haram members should be rehabilitated is a sad one. That call is a threat to national security and national unity, and that is to put it mildly. So, I urge the National Assembly to reject the proposal. That is my call. I hold this contention because it means that anybody can go and join these criminals, commit crimes, kill people, waste lives and destinies then you lay down your arms and expect to be rehabilitated by government and even be taken abroad for training. This will constitute a threat to national security and unity. How many of the relatives or families of the victims of Boko Haram like I am, had the government rehabilitated? I was not born blind and my hand was not broken; I was a vibrant young man with the aim of contributing my own quota for the growth of this country until my dream was cut short by these bandits; however I still thank God for life. But I think what Alhaji Gaidam is proposing and planning to do through his position in the Senate is tragic and unfair.
Which one is of more importance to you now; Gaidam’s suggestions and proposal or that the Federal Government should rise to the occasion and contain the raging insurgency?
The failure of the Federal Government to tackle insurgency and the proposal by Alhaji Gaidam are both worrisome. I am not happy with that, and everybody in the country today is not happy with what is going on. How can someone kill my son or my brother or sister; my mother or father, wife, render people hopeless and throw them into eternal pains and you are proposing that such person should be patted on the back? Is that not what it means? We were told sometime ago that the family of a member of Boko Haram was compensated after he was killed, if that was true it means that the government compensated the family of a terrorist. How about the victims? I am a victim of insurgency, and I have been crying for rehabilitation nine years. I heeded and was on a national call when this happened, and I thought I would have been treated like someone with some worth. How about the soldiers? How about the numerous families which are in perpetual pain? I thank the NYSC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under Professor Mahmoud Yakub for giving me a job which I am doing now. But what about numerous others which need rehabilitation?
So, what should the government do with Boko Haram?
They should treat them as terrorists, pure and simple. They go abroad and they know how these things work. You don’t pamper terrorists. Many soldiers have been killed or incapacitated. So many soldiers cannot be accounted for by their families, because they do not know where they are or what has happened to them.
Regarding your treatment, you said a hospital said it could restore your sight?
Yes. The hospital is Moorefields Eye Hospital. They have invited me three times to see three different consultants, including a Nigerian nurse who works in that hospital. I spoke with him. They put the bill at about N15million. I have pleaded with some governors, some senators and some people I felt might be able to help, but because I am son of ‘a nobody’, nothing is forthcoming. I have made appeals in the media for help but still have not been able to get the kind of lift that I need. I have been incapacitated, all I felt I could do as a vibrant young man have been grounded and I have little children. I really need help.
It’s a thing of concern that government is not living up to their responsibility, they encourage toehrs to serve Nigeria with all their strength. They should work to encourage Nigerians to serve the country with sincerity and honesty without fear of the unknown of ‘if I serve Nigeria and something happens, nobody will care for me’. This is why some civil servants don’t serve with all sincerity, they are afraid of what might happen to them if they fall victim of calamities. They cannot give their best because government can never be responsible for them.