Odiri was born on the 1st of October 1960. She grew up in the United Kingdom with her parents, who passed away in a fatal road accident when she was 5. She had to grow up with her aunty in Coventry. Her aunt was married to a white man. She grew up with so much passion, and interest in African history. She focused so much on Nigeria, and when she was 28, she decided to move back to the most populous nation in Africa to trace her roots.
Odiri, an epitome of true African beauty and brains, was already doing well for herself. She was a medical doctor in London, and her brainy nature earned her a high post at a reputable hospital with a short period.
She was able to establish contact with one of her uncles in Nigeria. She planned to relocate to the country permanently and contribute her quota to the development of the health sector. Her uncle talked her into establishing a hospital in her home-town in the southern part of Nigeria. She kept on wiring funds to him to secure land, erect a building and acquire certain medical supplies and equipment. She invested her entire life-savings into this project, which was expected to benefit her, as well as the general public. She soon packed her belongings and sold others off and flew to Nigeria.
She arrived in Nigeria from the UK so late in the night. Her uncle faltered in his plan to come to receive her at the airport. Odiri didn’t mind. She got a cab and wanted to check into a nearby hotel. The cab driver realized she was a novice. Her British accent gave her away. He convinced her about taking her to a beautiful, safe and affordable hotel. She agreed, and they embarked on the short trip. The cab driver had ulterior motives. He contacted a gang of armed robbers. They waylaid them along the road and led them into an uncompleted building in a remote area. Odiri was shocked. All her monies, mobile phones, laptop, clothes and documents were all taken from her. The gang of robbers numbering 5, including the cab driver took turns to rape her. Odiri was a virgin, and she lost her virginity painfully on that fateful day. She felt she was dreaming, but she wasn’t. It was a reality that was playing out. The robbers soon left her almost unclad with her torn clothes. She managed to gather strength and tried contacting her uncle as she knew his phone number off hand. She spoke to a stranger who volunteered to allow her to use his phone. Her uncle’s number was unreachable. He purposely did that to avoid her.
He was scamming her all along with the hospital project. He diverted the funds into his private use while he tendered fake pictures, videos and documents to convince her that the project was ongoing and close to completion. Odiri wandered around the street close to being naked. Many felt she was mentally unstable, and they tried avoiding her.
She was helpless and unable to think straight. The night was getting darker, and she had no place to sleep. A police van on patrol stopped her. She felt a sense of hope and succour on citing the security operatives, but she never suspected they were about to compound her woes. She narrated her story to the police officers. They nodded in disbelief. Unfortunately for her, she was found around a flashpoint where some prostitutes used to hang around while waiting for prospective customers. She was told she was under arrest. They ignored the bruises on her body and demanded a bribe in exchange for her freedom. She had nothing to give. They handcuffed her and took her to their station to be locked up. Odiri cried her eyes out, and all her pleas of being innocent fell on deaf ears. She had lost everything, and there was no hope. Her dream of being a shining light in Africa was gone. Her uncle was already basking in euphoria of unexpected success. He went to the church to give thanks to ‘God’ for blessing him. He delivered a cooked up testimony, and the large congregation tapped into it. They wanted the same. But it wasn’t God who blessed him, the devil did. The reason why he was living large was the exact reason why Odiri was behind bars for days, living on stale bread and water in a dirty and stuff cell.
The police weren’t ready to release her except she parted with some money as bail. They denied her all efforts to communicate with the United Kingdom embassy in Nigeria for any necessary support. Odiri lost her love for Nigeria and Africa as a whole. Her sense of family was gone. Her hopes were dead. Odiri soon suffered a mental breakdown and became a patient at the psychiatric hospital, which was severely underfunded by the government. This aggravated her condition and left an indelible mark on her body. Till date, she still struggles to recover from the trauma of falling from grass to grace.
This is just a parable. Odiri doesn’t exist. Odiri signifies Nigeria. Odiri exemplifies the poor masses. Her uncle represents the political class who have eaten away the future and destinies of over 200 million Nigerians. The reason why they are living in affluence today is the same reason why over 90 million Nigerians live in abject poverty. The police officers represent that failed institutions managed by unscrupulous people who have failed to respect the codes of conduct guiding their respective offices. They live for their selfish interests, and they bend the rules to suit their nefarious purposes. The cab drivers and the armed robbers are by-products of a failed society. They represent the cankerworms eating up the security architecture of Nigeria. The society made them. They represent the bandits, Boko Haram, kidnappers, hoodlums and other outlaws making lives uncomfortable for innocent people in Nigeria.
Fortunately, Odiri hasn’t died; her uncle hasn’t been brought to book. She managed to survive the trauma, but her life has lost direction. She developed other underlying ailments during her travails, and she has been living with them. Time has passed; she is 60 today. Her dreams and life aspirations have failed to materialize. There is virtually nothing to celebrate.
Welcome to Nigeria. A blessed country that is well-populated with high quality human and material resources, but only working for a few ruling elites. The self-acclaimed giant of Africa where lions are led by goats.
Nigeria clocks 60 with an aged leader superintending over a sick economy, and depressed people, whose woes have been compounded by massive inflation and the coronavirus pandemic. Over a decade ago, the dream of most Nigerians was to become doctors, lawyers, nurses, engineers, fulfilled entrepreneurs and others. But today, everything has turned upside down. The biggest dream of most young people is to leave the country and acquire dual citizenship for their unborn children. This move is a sure escape route from the scourge of poverty. There is nothing to celebrate today. We can only thank providence for the gift of life. Our succour might be in heaven at the end of the day.
Odiri, who was full of life and had a bright future, was forever stripped naked in a public place and hasn’t recovered.
Written by Osayimwen Osahon George
Eemail: [email protected]