Wow! Wow! Almighty Has Done It For Me Again!
On Saturday Breakfast, I have told many stories about the love I share with my youngest daughter, Stephanie Chinenye Okoroji. Though ‘Babim’, as I call her, was born in America, I had to make sure she came back to Nigeria, went to nursery, primary and secondary schools and learnt to jump danfo busses and okada in Lagos.
She was the one in the house who found out when my nails where too long and trimmed them for me and generally made sure I was looking dapper. There is this special call and response I share with her. We sing it like a song.
When Iyke, my younger brother in America, called and asked that Babim should come over and finish school in the States, I was of two minds. I stayed awake at night thinking about it. I did not want any of my kids speaking with a funny accent or thinking it is ok to say “Daddy, don’t be silly!’ Besides, I loved the camaraderie we shared and did not want to miss that. Ultimately, I left the decision to her.
I remember the very long trip we took via Dubai to New York. It was not because we wanted to enjoy the famous Dubai experience. Emirates was offering the lowest fare to America and we could only afford the lowest fare. We had to go East in order to go West. It appeared like an endless trip.
About three years ago, I watched with tremendous pride and joy as my baby daughter, graduated at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County (UMBC). My girl thought I was in Lagos. She did not know that I was in the auditorium watching and smiling, having arrived Baltimore a few hours earlier and having conspired with my brother, Iyke to keep the information from her. How do I describe the yelp she uttered when she saw me at UMBC? Unforgettable! Incredible! Unbelievable! It was worth every kilometre I travelled and every hard Naira it cost. It was a present like no other.
When the 1st of August 2020 was fixed for the wedding of Babim to her sweetheart, Sam Egiafameh in Glenn Dale, a suburb of Maryland, it was meant to be a day like no other. I was practically counting the days, the hours and the minutes.
Madam, the fashionista that she is, raided Balogun market in Lagos to get the best fabrics on show to create for me some eye splitting agbada for the occasion. Ordinarily, I am not an agbada person but the 1st of August 2020 was scheduled to be a day like no other, a day to dress to finish and I was ready.
As the coronavirus reared its ugly head earlier in the year, we all thought that after a few weeks or at the worst a couple of months, the madness would go away. After all, did Ebola not go away? Did SARS not go away?
Who would have thought that instead of the virus going away, the year 2020 would be washed away? For many months, the Premiership, the NBA, the NFL, the MLS disappeared. Even the Olympic Games, the world’s greatest spectacle with billions of dollars invested, was scrapped.
I was so sure that before the 1st of August, I would find a way to get to America and walk my baby down the aisle in my flowing agbada and do that which every father is proud to do.
Who would I have thought that the ever busy Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos could be shut down month after month and all the airplanes that fly people from country to country, morning, afternoon and night, would be parked? How come none of the big prophets and seers who harass all of us on TV saw that the world would be turned upside down in 2020?
I struggled to make sense out of what was happening. I was stuck in Lagos while my baby girl was taking one of the biggest steps in her life. At least her mother got there before everywhere was shut down.
We had actually planned back-to-back weddings in the family, Stephanie’s and TJ’s. I called and shut down the TJ wedding. No Coronavirus was going to stop me from being present at the wedding of my only son. Not long after, I was hit by a medical crisis and urgently needed to travel for medical help. Two days before my trip, a strong attempt was made to abduct me in Lagos, whisk me away and waste me in Benin. In the execution of the devious plan, the Almighty intervened. While I was abducted, my abductors could not take me away from Lagos. God freed me and I was able to travel for my medicals.
One afternoon, not long after I came back from my medical trip, the news came that bank accounts of COSON of which I am chairman had been frozen, the accounts of my personal business had been frozen, my domiciliary account had been frozen and my personal Naira account had also been frozen. Suddenly, life was hanging in a balance. To do basic things, I had to find someone to borrow from.
I hold no government position and have no access to one naira of government funds. I do not do money laundering, I do not do oil bunkering, I do not do ‘yahoo-yahoo’ or internet fraud of any kind, I do not deal in drugs and I am not engaged in any criminal activity of any sort but they have kept hunting me. There is no big money in any of my accounts that will suggest that it is the proceed of any crime and they know it. Their objective is to decapitate me.
Dr Jatto who took not one penny from me will confirm that on the day I left Nigeria, I came to take six injections from him making it eighteen in three days. Without my daughter, Alex who travelled with me, I may not have made it to New York for my son’s wedding.
Though I still had health challenges in New York, I was pumped up. I was sure that those who froze my accounts had not frozen my faith and organisational ability. I am usually not one for big family events but I begged the Almighty to make the wedding of my son, who is my good friend and confidant an exception and an unforgettable event and to show evil people their limits and God answered my prayers big time.
You think God is done with me? This week while I was thinking of where to get money to pay the salaries of my staff, great news came from America. My baby girl, Stephanie Chineye Egiafameh has given me an early Christmas gift of a bouncing grandson. I must be the luckiest man in the world. What name should I give my newly minted grandson? Please join me in thanking the Almighty who continues to bless me over and over again. I am H A P P Y