OCTOBER 3, 2013, is a day that will forever linger in the memories of two young men, Daniel Oikhena and Timileyin Olajuwon, following the life changing interventions they got from De Raufs, a socio-political organisation committed to propagating the ideals, programmes and ideas of Governor Aregbesola of the State of Osun.
Daniel, who is now some sort of a celebrity following his historic incident where he hid in the tyre compartment of a Lagos bound Arik airline plane from Benin, Edo State, and was disappointed when he discovered that the plane brought him to Lagos rather than America as he hoped, was given his scholarship package along with Governor Aregbesola’s Tablet of Knowledge, ‘Opon Imo’ and a phone.
20 year-old Timileyin Olajuwon on the other hand, is an unusual poet who is already doing the country proud internationally, after receiving an invitation for an award as the World Poetry Nigerian Ambassador to Canada. He also got the backing of De Raufs as he will be sponsored to Canada for the event in addition to a scholarship package to cater for his education.
De Raufs volunteer group, a movement conceived as an antidote to the twin danger of apathy and money induced politics, established on Wednesday, 27 March 2013, was officially launched in Lagos at Oranmiyan Hall of the Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos with scores of rights activists, prominent politicians as well as celebrities of music and movies which includes Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Comrade Debo Adeniran, Antar Laniyan, Saheed Osupa, Lanre Suraj, Japhet Omojuwa, Ganiyu Solomon, Prince Yele Alabi, among others.
ENCOMIUM Weekly spoke with the Director General, De Raufs, Comrade Amitolu Shittu, the Chairman, Lagos chapter of the organisation, Mr. Olaitan Adeniyi as well as exclusive chats with Daniel the stowaway boy, his mom and Mr. Timileyin the poet.
‘Other children should not try it, it is risky’ – DANIEL OIKHENA (13), stowaway boy on how he hid in Arik Air plane
I woke up at 4 a.m and went to the airport. I got there around 6 a.m, I waited and went to the back of the airport. I saw a big iron fence, there was a hole there. I passed through the hole and waited in the bush for all the planes to land. A plane came and dropped some passengers. When the plane was about to take off again, I went by the tyre and got into the compartment. I sat inside then the plane took off. I was scared and surprised that the tyre was coming inside but it did not touch me. A little while again, the tyre came out in the air, and it was about landing. I was very happy. I thought I had gotten to America, and then I looked at the ground and saw that it was black people that were on the ground. I was surprised. The plane stopped and all the passengers were getting down. I got down too, then a security man saw me and started taking my pictures before taking me to the SSS office.
When they took you to the SSS office, what did they ask you?
They asked me how I entered the plane and how I beat the security.
Did you have any phone with you when you were getting on the plane?
No, I did not.
When they took you to the governor of Edo State, what did he ask you?
He asked me the same thing I was asked by the SSS and if I liked boarding school. I said yes, but my mom does not have the money to put me in boarding school. He told me not to worry that he will put me in boarding school. So, he chose Edo College for me and that’s where I am now.
Before you were taken to Edo State, you were with SSS. Can you describe the type of treatment you were given?
They told me to ask them for anything I wanted.
What did you ask them to give you?
I told them to give me water, then they asked if I was hungry. They asked what food I wanted. I told them rice and beans and they gave me and I ate. In the night, they took me to a room with a bed and I slept there.
What happened the following morning?
They said the Edo State Governor wanted to see me, so they took me to Benin.
So, why did you really do what you did?
I did it because I wanted to go abroad. My mom does not have money to pay our school fees. So, I wanted to go abroad to see what I could do there.
Did you tell anybody before going?
I did not want anybody to know.
What was your experience inside the tyre compartment?
I was not afraid inside the place.
How big is the place?
It is not very big but I could sit down.
Was it after you did it that you realized that what you did was not good?
It was when they told me that people try it, but when they do it they die. That was when I knew it was a dangerous thing I did.
Have you seen anybody doing what you did before?
Yes, but just in a movie.
What movie was that?
Do you know some children are trying to do what you did?
No, I don’t know.
So, what is your advice to other children that are thinking of trying it?
I want to tell them to please not try it. It is too risky and it kills. If I had known, I wouldn’t have tried it.
What is your ambition?
I want to be an Aeronautical Engineer.
How do you feel about the scholarship De Raufs presented to you today?
I just want to say thank you to them for giving me the scholarship. I am very happy.
When you were coming for the De Raufs presentation, did you come by road or by air?
I came by plane.
So, since you didn’t fly by the tyre compartment this time, how did it feel?
It felt very good, and it was very comfortable.
Are you assuring the De Raufs that you will be a good boy?
And you will study hard?
Yes, I will study very, very hard.
How do people treat you in your new school?
They treat me normally.
So, do you prefer your new school to your former school?
Not really, but I am happy that I am in a good school. I don’t have to make my mother struggle to pay my school fees.
‘Now I can work hard for my other children’
– EVELYN OIKHENA, mother of stowaway boy
It was successful. I thank God for the progress of today. I am very happy about the scholarship. Now I know Daniel’s future is secure. I don’t have to run helter skelter for his school fees. I will now focus on his sister and younger brothers.
As a mother, what message do you have for other children that might want to try what Daniel did?
The advice I have is that they should not try it. Even my son, Daniel is regretting it. He has been saying, if he knew it was a risk, he would not have done it. Plus the way people have been talking about it. I went through a lot because of what he did. The only thing I am happy about today is the scholarship.
Where were you on the day Daniel got missing?
I am a hair dresser by profession, but recently my shop got burnt. On the day Daniel left the house, I was out working on home service. I got a bridal job. I made the hair for the bride’s traditional wedding the previous day and I was loosening it and making the hair for the white wedding on the day Daniel disappeared. I left Daniel and his younger ones in care of their elder sister, who is 16. Only to come home early the next morning and not find Daniel at home.
What was the experience during Daniel’s dilemma?
The first time I heard it, I fainted. My sister had to pour water on me before I regained consciousness. Right now, I am battling with high blood pressure. It was a terrible experience. It’s not a thing that someone would experience and be happy. The most important thing is that he is alive. I thank God for his life. His being alive is the best miracle I have ever seen. A lot of people are even saying Daniel is a miracle child, because nobody has survived what he did. I really thank God for everything. He made me stronger. During the incident, we didn’t stop praying. We had vigil on behalf of Daniel.
Now that Daniel’s future is settled, you just have to focus on your other children?
Yes, I have to work hard now, very hard and focus on my other children. My first child, a girl is in Federal Girls College, in Edo. She is in SS3. Daniel’s younger ones are in primary four and one. They are nine and six. Now that the issue of Daniel is settled I can work hard for the rest.
A lot of people are saying you’ve been given millions of naira for Daniel’s scholarship, how true is this?
My sister, it is all lies. Nobody has given me any money or anything for Daniel. People in Benin have been calling me that they heard I was given N50 million. Some are saying N15 million and yet I don’t have anything. In fact, my sister gave me money to make my hair before coming to Lagos. I don’t know how people make these stories up. I also read in a paper some weeks back that I was on my way to Lagos to pick the money on behalf of my son, and I am just in Lagos now, with Daniel to receive his scholarship not cash.
What is the relationship between you and your husband now?
Our families have resolved the issue between us. We are now in good terms.
Does that mean you will be getting back together soon?
‘Aregbesola is a man of his words’ – COMRADE AMITOLU SHITTU, Director General
We are celebrating an icon, a leader, a hero of democracy and a good example to our young generation. Aregbesola has brought tremendous development to change the face of Nigerian politics.
Apart from extolling the virtues of the governor, what I cherish most in Engr. Rauf Aregbesola is that he is a man of his words. He is a man who has the fear of God and those are part of the qualities that gave me the inspiration. They use what they have to transform the state of Osun. Initially, I felt he wouldn’t be able to do as much as he is doing now because of the enormous debt profile he inherited in the state. Another thing that endeared me to this great Nigerian is his passion for education and health. He believes in and employs Awolowo’s policies on education, health, security and other sectors. He has used his goodwill to get security of lives and property in the state by encouraging the police and giving them equipment to work with.
The truth is that when people think that they can run away after denying citizens employment, they will find out that the insecurity of lives and properties is at their doorsteps. When you are good and you serve the people well, you won’t need to run into hiding from your people. For example, I remember my experience here in Lagos in 2003. I was with the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi and Femi Aborishade when armed robbers attacked us with guns and demanded money, but for the mere fact that Gani mentioned his name, they immediately started apologising and said it’s not people like him that they were looking for. Gani called them back to collect some money but they refused. But when Chief insisted, they took only N500 out of the money and left. That was my first direct encounter with robbers.
How can the problem of insecurity be solved?
If the Federal Government employs more Nigerians, the problem of insecurity would be greatly reduced.
The government is not giving anything back to the citizens from age one till the day they die. No social security, you pay your school fees, you struggle to clothe yourself, power your generators. And many of those who are in government now enjoyed scholarships and free education during their time. Today, it is those that enjoyed free hostels and free education that are tormenting the education system.
Is the organisation only open to indigenes of State of Osun?
No, it’s not. De Raufs is national and it has already been internationalised. Right now, De Raufs is in 14 countries of the world including 25 states in USA. We’re in Croydon in UK, London, Tottenham, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia and other countries. We thank God that it is doable. People believed that volunteerism is not possible but the people you saw in the hall today, nobody gave them money.
How do you get funds to run the organisation?
There are serious minded individuals who would not mind supporting good things. Nigerians have value for integrity and they respect people who will not embezzle their money, and to the glory of God Aregbesola belongs to the class of those with integrity.
But a lot of people believe that De Raufs is bankrolled by Gov. Aregbesola?
Anybody can say whatever they want. I have conscience and if you are not a prostitute, you cannot call the wife of another person a prostitute.
‘What we need is good leadership’ – OLAITAN MUSTAPHA ADENIYI, Chairman of De Raufs Lagos chapter
I feel on top of the world with the turn-out. We started this thing like a joke in Lagos state. As a matter of fact, we started with just 16 people, and 16 people within two months grew to what you witnessed today. It is due to great mobilisation, we had to peg the numbers of people from each local government. We told them to limit the numbers of people coming to between 20 and 25. If we had allowed everybody to be here today, there would be commotion. It’s a great thing and I’m very happy.
Following today’s launch, what next for the organisation?
The mobilisation continues. We are going back to each local government to do public presentation. The strategy we want to adopt is to bring LCDA’s to the local government they broke off from. So, at the end of the day, the presentations will hold in 20 local governments encompassing all LCDAs. We will end that presentation before the end of November because after the presentations, when the campaign proper starts, we will do the mother of all presentations where we will mobilise every member in Lagos to Osun and we’ll assemble in the stadium. We will now call Aregbesola to see his people.
What made De Rauf’s take up the case of Daniel the stowaway boy and Timileyin the poet?
Let me talk about the poet first, that boy is something else. If you ask him to write a poem about anything, even if it’s just about your button, he will just ask for two minutes and he will start writing beautifully. The boy is a genius and we found out that the government of Nigeria doesn’t encourage such people, the bourgeoisies are not interested. This is somebody who has made name for himself and the country with his exploits on a global stage. We want to encourage people like him, and that is why we are doing this. In the case of the stowaway boy, we identified with him because of what drove him to do what he did. He felt he did not have a bright future in Nigeria, and seeing that his mother was not finding it easy to cater for him, he decided to try and find a way out of the country to get a better life for himself and his mother.
What we need is good leadership, like what Aregbesola is doing. If Aregbesola’s programmes were to be implemented at the federal level, what happened to Daniel might not have happened. If you have good schools and you know that there’s a tablet of knowledge for you where all materials you need are available, you know there’s a future for you, then there will be no need for you to take such a risk. Look at ASUU now, they are fighting, yet the government is politicising it saying they are fighting for themselves. ASUU is fighting for better learning conditions in higher institutions, for facilities and to create enabling environments. ASUU is asking for only N92 billion, yet they are claiming they cannot afford it. Has the House of Assembly ever gone on strike that they did not pay their salary or allowance? Nobody has witnessed that in this country but we have seen strikes from ASUU, COEASU, SSANU, NUT and numerous others. They are more concerned about paying themselves astronomical wages and allowances, fighting for life allowances and entitlements and so on. They are only concerned about their pockets.
‘My role model is Williams Shakespeare’ – TIMILEYIN GABRIEL OLAJUWON
My name is Timileyin Gabriel Olajuwon. I am a native of Ire, Osun State but I reside in Ikirun also in Osun State. I am a poet and a force to reckon with. I just received an invitation letter from World Poetry International in Canada to come and celebrate and partake in the Peace Poetathon event that will be coming up on October 23, 2013. I will be receiving an award, as the World Poetry Nigeria Ambassador to Canada. By the grace of God, according to what the Director General, Amitolu Shittu said, I might stay back in Canada for my university education or I come back in Nigeria to study in any school of my choice and my course of study. But whichever way it is, De Rauf’s and Comrade Amitolu Shittu will be the ones to handle the tuition fees and the likes.
How did you meet De Rauf’s?
I met them through my friend’s father, Comrade Oguntunde and since I met De Rauf’s I have not regretted being part of them.
How old are you?
I am 20.
What do you intend studying in the university?
I wish to be a lawyer but based on the gift I have in me, I intend studying more of literary studies.
Who are your role models when it comes to poetry?
My role model is Williams Shakespeare. He inspired me to start writing poems.
– DANIEL FAYEMI and TINUOLA JOSEPH