Maybe some will remember the hashtag #ForJahmira. Maybe not. But two people Japheth Omojuwa and Bukola Ogunyemi were at the forefront of trying to raise funds for my son about a year ago. Against my better judgment, I had accepted help which they INSISTED on offering. I still have copies of the emails exchanged. I still have a memory of the calls made. People who were privy to conversations on both sides are fortunately not dead. The total sum raised was about N77,500.0.
I was reminded quite openly of this good the deed by the one and only Japheth Omojuwa on Friday, 29th November 2013. My sin? I wrote an article which was published on the Scoop earlier that day. You can find the full article here http://www.thescoopng.com/abigail-anaba-gov-oshiomhole-and-the-widow/ . I have however gone ahead to copy the ‘offending’ excerpts below. Please oblige me:
Which brings me to the question: was this woman treated unfairly? For instance, will she get a fair hearing if indeed she was just waiting for commute? Will her goods be returned to her so she can go trade in the market? Is there any structure on ground to ensure that she will get a fair hearing? It is quite easy to react emotionally, create a hashtag and donate money for the widow, but of even more importance is ensuring that there are places where citizens who feel they have received an unfair treatment from anyone in authority can go and have their grievances aired without fear.
A cosmetic remedy can solve the problem of this ‘widow’ in the video, but what about all other ‘widows’ that were not caught on camera. How many people will you donate money for? At a point, it becomes tiring. But, if there is a strong citizen advocacy group on ground, it is much easier to help people who find themselves in situations like this widow and have a genuine case to make.
In Omojuwa’s books, this excerpt seems to suggest that I do not believe money should be raised for the widow. He believes, as I gathered from his tweets, that I have no moral rights to hold the above opinion because he and his friends raised money to pay school fees for my son.
I am lost.
Even more amazing is the number of ‘friends’ who joined him by retweeting and tweeting support, some even without reading the article. To these I am even more grateful.
Some time ago, I shared on my TL something on context. I would rather not say that someone decided to take the words of that article and twist it around to suit himself. I would rather not input bad motives. Yet, it is very curious that the above words can be interpreted to mean ‘do not raise money for the widow’ or ‘raising money for this widow is unnecessary’.
In my first email to Omojuwa, I had clearly stated why I shared my son’s story. Excerpts:
“Let me also say that I shared the story for two basic reasons: first to inspire others who are in similar circumstances and second to be sure I am doing the best possible for him and if not find ways to improve. I am happy that I have been able to accomplish both and I do again thank you for your role in this.”
People have often said you must never accept ‘good’ from people. A couple of my friends would probably say how almost impossible it is for me to accept help from anyone. I did not follow my gut instincts. I should follow my gut instincts more often.
If I had followed my gut instincts, my son will not now be in the debt of someone who believes that because he did you a favour you should no longer have an opinion. I will not be in the debt of someone who holds something against me.
N77,500.0 is certainly not the type of money I would come on Twitter to beg for. But come to think of it, even if I came on twitter to beg for N20Million, does anyone have a right to tell me not to air my views because they helped co-ordinate some fund raising for me? Then again, even IF I had said it was wrong to raise funds for this widow, (which I clearly did not say) does my benefiting from a fund raising scheme translate into supporting every fundraising scheme? Does it take away my right to reason and hold an opinion?
And yet, these same people would blame other people who join government and lose their voice. They will castigate them and paint them useless. These are the very ones that seek to perpetrate the very actions they disdain.
I am not the hypocrite here.
Let it be known to anyone who cares to listen that I have NEVER and will NEVER come on Twitter to beg for bread. It doesn’t mean I am any better than people who have found themselves so unfortunate as to need help. I remember repeatedly telling Bukola how disinterested I was in the entire set up. I never even shared in retweeting or asking for funds. Even when people asked if the fund raising was for my son, I never replied because I had told them in no uncertain terms that I do not want to have anything to do with the fund raising. The only reason I agreed to it was because they were making it seem like people were willing to help make things better while I stubbornly stood in the way. If Bukola can be truthful to himself and his God he will say how long it took to convince me to accept help from him and his crony. Perhaps, this is why God saw to it that the entire affair was a flop.
I will continue to support the looking after of orphans and widows. I will continue to support the giving of alms to the poor. I will continue to support the needy. I will continue to pray that God comes to our aid in our time of need. I will continue to hope that people with a good heart like do not destroy themselves with their arrogance. May God not send you a helper that will turn your helplessness into mockery when it suits him.
I believe that by Omojuwa and his friends coming to make a fool of my son and me for their ‘goodness’ towards him for no just cause, the ‘good’ they did has been invalidated. However, the people who gave freely deserve a just reward for their goodness. So this is what I have done. I have returned the sum of N77,500.0 donated to my son to Omojuwa’s The Alpha Reach account. He can do with it whatever he pleases.
This is my way of getting closure. This is my way of finding peace. God bless us all.