by Adekoya Boladale
When Adesola (not real name) gained admission to study Accounting at Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ogun state in 2010 her joy knew no bounds. The last two years had been challenging for the family. Right after she finished her secondary school education in 2008 she lost her father and the responsibility to cater for her needs and that of her only brother was automatically placed on her mother. Even though things were not so bad for the family as the income for sustenance was being generated from the medium sized stationery store built by the father few months before his death, the fear of placing the whole responsibility on her mum and the unending accusation and counter accusation from family members especially from her paternal lineage on the possibility of her mother being responsible for the death of her father was unbearable and traumatic. So even though she was offered admission in 2009, she deferred.
Desola stood by her mother during the period of mourning, she stayed at the store to sell wares and sometimes had to hawk when sales were slow. Apart from feeding, her mother has to deal with issue of house rent, payment of school fees and statutory payment of five thousand naira (5,000) to the family as royalty from the small store.
Gaining admission to the state University took sleepless nights and when the offer for admission came her mother did all she could to raise the school fees of forty-five thousand naira (45,000) even when she had to lend from thrift merchants. With Desola in school and sales at the shop picking up gradually, her mother was relieved that at least the dark days are over or so she thought.
Trouble started for the family two years after in 2013 when the state government decided to expand the four lane community road right beside her mother’s shop to six lanes. Even though the community road doesn’t look like one that really needed expansion as the road witnessed minimal traffic even at peak periods she was confident her shop will be spared having left the regulated distance. Unfortunately this was not to be, during the period of demolition the shop among others along the path was brought down under an excuse of what the site engineer called dual-carriage drainage walkway.
Compensation was paid to the family two months after the demolition and a cheque of ten thousand, seven hundred and seventy five naira, and fifty kobo (10,775.50) was issued to the mother as the state assessment of her shop. Adesola’s mother was devastated, loans and debt owed by the family was already above three thousand naira coupled with the responsibility of school fees and house rent. She walked three kilometres home weeping nonstop. Informing Desola about what the state government paid would make her lose concentration on her study she thought, so she decided to hold her peace.
Getting another shop or renting one of the newly built one by the government was another option she did not have as the cost of the shops as rent were five times higher than what she was paid. All she could do was hope and pray that a miracle happens.
Then unfortunately, Damilola the youngest child took ill and was rushed to the state hospital. Unfortunately there was no doctor to attend to them while the Nurses on duty told the mother pointblank that there was no drug to give as first aid as the hospital was out of supply for over a month. Desola’s mother had to rush Damilola to a nearby private hospital with the little she had and after few minutes on admission Damilola died. According to the doctor, Damilola had cholera and if Adesola’s mother was a bit early maybe he would still be alive.
While still grieving the death of an only son and beloved brother, the family was served an eviction notice from the landlord. The family was one year and six month due in rent payment. It took the intervention of neighbours and co-tenant before the landlord could agree to give them one month extension as he was hell bent on sending them out that night.
One week later, Adesola returned back to school only to discover that the tuition fee has been increased to a whooping two hundred and fifty thousand naira (250,000), she couldn’t even dare tell her mother but when the pressures on payment of school fees especially for final year student from the University authority was becoming overbearing she had no choice but to inform mum.
Adesola’s mother was an amazon; even in grief she didn’t let the death of a son get in the way. She started running around, meeting friends and family to source for funds believing this is one thing fate had placed on her plate. On one of the days, Adesola’s mother received a phone call from her uncle who had promised to help her with the problem, the time was 9:30pm and she was just getting ready for bed but a help such as this can’t wait till the next day, so she decided to pay the man a visit. Just few steps to the gate of her uncle’s house, Adesola’s mother was hit by a stray bullet and she died instantly. There was a robbery in the neighbourhood and in an attempt for the thieves to have a hitch-free escape they fired few shots.
The story of Adesola is painful and sober just like many others around towns, communities and villages in Ogun State. While it is only natural that fate plays its divine role, human activities have over the years help direct to which side of the coin the tide falls.
There are cries around Ogun state. Pains of families and individuals like Adesola who have had their only source of income demolished to create way for some fancy irrelevant eight to ten lane roads with compensation not even enough to feed a month. There are cries of mothers, children and fathers who have lost loved ones to little illness as cholera because they could not afford private hospitals and funds meant for healthcare are diverted to air-conditioned bridges and flyovers.
Students whose parent have toiled to send through school and nearly at the finish line may no longer be able to continue education because the state government in its wisdom has decided to increase tuition fees to five times what they were paying.
The reason why government is called an institution of the state is because government in itself cannot survive as it requires the people, every individual within the state, either indigenes or non-indigenes as authority to operate. Therefore beyond the shores of constitution and powers lies what is called ‘human face’- the ability to sometimes put ourselves into the shoes of others before taking decisions no matter how much power or authority we have on it.
The government of Senator Ibikunle Amosun is far from the people. Roads and bridges are good sight but none, not one has ever added a meat to the plate of the masses. When the rock bleeds, a volcano is near.
Adekoya Boladale wrote via email@example.com . Twitter is @adekoyabee