Jun 7, 2015

From stowaway boy to Oshiomhole’s boy

Daniel flanked by Gov  Oshiomhole (left) and an aviation ministry official

You probably still remember Daniel Ricky Ohikhena, the boy who stowed from Benin to Lagos in the wheel well of Arik Flight W3 544, on Saturday, August 24, 2013. Daniel celebrated his 15th birthday on April 27 in school in Benin-City. But before his birthday, Daniel had a bitter experience in school when he was bitten by a snake while reading in class. - See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2015/06/from-stowaway-boy-to-oshiomholes-son/#sthash.8Igtd1Fi.dpuf

The boy stowed to Lagos while hiding in one of the wheel wells of the air craft. Airport officials in Lagos were shocked when the boy jumped out from the under carriage of the aircraft. His action drew the attention of the world to Edo state that day, as the stowaway boy said he thought the aircraft was on its way to the United States.

Daniel’s ignorance catapulted him to limelight as the boy, who said he wants to read aeronautic engineering, attracted the attention of Governor Adams Oshiomhole who met with the boy and his parents to know what was actually Daniel’s problem.

After the boy declared his intention to further his education, Oshiomhole added him to the pool of his children and announced a scholarship package for him. Today Daniel is a boarding student in one of the prestigious secondary schools in Edo and enjoying all the facilities available as the governor’s son.

Sunday Vanguard met with the boy, currently on break from school. Asked how he felt looking back at what transpired on August 24, 2013, he said, “I feel stupid and ashamed of myself remembering what I did. That thing could have led me to jail or even death. My life has changed since then and I thank God for that. I was even scared then that the Comrade Governor was going to put me in jail but he saved my life”.
Discussing life in school, particularly when he was bitten by a snake, Daniel said it was a horrible experience but expressed gratitude to God for surviving the incident. His words: “When I had the snake bite, I was rushed to our clinic in school before my mum came and took me to a Specialist Hospital where I spent three days.

I told my mum to help me tell the Comrade Governor but she said she tried but could not because it was not easy to see the governor. Governor Oshiomhole is my father and I will always remain grateful to him because he sent me back to school. When the stowaway incident happened, I was scared of what he will do but he invited my mum and I and asked me what I will like to become and encouraged me to go to school.

Snake bite

“What happened was that my seat was not good, so I was looking for a board to put on top of the seat so that it will be stable. I saw one board close to our hall. I went for it. But as I was trying to pick it up, I did not know a snake was under it. A green snake bit my hand. One of my friends used a big stone to pin it on the ground there, then I crushed the head on the floor; that is how I killed it. They tied my hand and rushed me to our clinic.

That evening, my mum came and took me to hospital. I was in hospital for three days, My mum took care of the bills. The snake bite was really painful. During the period, my mum was running everywhere trying to get the attention of the governor but didn’t succeed. I actually wanted to see the governor and tell him what happened to me because he is my father. I am happy he is taking care of me but sometimes I feel like seeing him to tell him how grateful I am.

Let me use this opportunity to appeal to him that he should still remember me. I am the same Daniel that he put in school. I am forever grateful to him for the scholarship he gave me. I want to beg him to help my mum on her business. Infact my mother was trying to do that but she spent the money paying hospital bill after the snake bite.

My father left us even before that aircraft incident and it is only my mum that is taking care of four of us. It has not been easy; we need help. One of my sisters wants to enter the university to read medicine now, and you know it is expensive. We know the Comrade Governor cannot do everything but he can help my mother reopen her business so that she can take care of us. And that is why I wanted to see him to beg him.

Yes, I always relived my experience in the wheel well of the aircraft to my school mates then, but now I try to forget about that so that I can focus on my studies. The governor encouraged me to use what happened to me as a motivational factor so that I can become what I want to be in life. And that was why I did not want that to remain in my memory.

I needed to move on so that I will achieve success and make the governor happy. In fact, sometimes, I use to think about the incident and say to myself, ‘if not for God, I would not have been alive today’.

I have been telling any person who cares to listen not to try that thing I did, it was too risky. I was shocked to have survived. If not for God I would have died”.

Asked what motivated him that day, he said, “I don’t know what actually entered my mind really, but all I knew was that I had the courage that I could fly in the plane. I just believed I will not die in that trip, that rather something good was going to happen to me. I celebrated my birthday in school in April, I thank God I am now 15 years. I thank God for my life”.

Asked if he still intended to read engineering, Daniel said: “Yes, aeronautic engineering. I thank God I have been doing well in science subjects. God will continue to bless our Comrade Governor so that he will train me till I become a pilot. My experience in 2013 was a deadly one, but I want to fly a plane legally after I must have concluded my education”.

Daniel’s mother, Evelyn, who also spoke to Sunday Vanguard, expressed her gratitude to Oshiomhole, noting that the future of Daniel may have been in jeopardy if not for the intervention of the Comrade Governor. Her words: “I want to first of all thank Governor Oshiomhole for the assistance he rendered to us by giving my son scholarship. But my son has been worried that he has not been able to see the governor since he was registered in school so that he can tell him how he is doing.

I remember that period, people thought the governor gave us money and they were all disturbing me. I told them that my interest was not money but to take care of my son. All I am begging now is for him to assist me open my shop again so that I can take care of Daniel and others. My shop got burnt and he promised me then to help reopen the shop again for me. I want to use this opportunity to thank him and to also tell him not to forget Daniel”.

Asked about the performance of Daniel in school, she said. “He is doing very well in school. The only time he had a problem was when he had the snake bite because it was during his exams, that was in March. He missed some tests they did in school while he was in hospital. But we thank God for the Comrade Governor and his family and we always continue to pray that God will protect him”.

Gillian is the Executive Director of the Edo State Waste Management Board, but she is the person saddled with the responsibility of taking care of the children popularly known as Oshiomhole’s children, under the supervision of the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Hon.Patrick Obahiagbon (Igodomigodo). In this chat, she speaks about Daniel and other kids being taken care of by the Comrade Governor.

She said: “ At present we have three boys. Two boys came as a result of the Boko Haram problem in 2011. And the stowaway boy came in 2013. They are all in school. The Boko Haram boys started from primary school; today one of them is in JSS 2, the other is in SS1. The stowaway started from JSS 1. We had to pull him out of his former school as directed by the Comrade Governor who said he wanted the best for the boy.

So we got him admission in a Model School in Benin. He has picked up now, he is calmer and more focused. Daniel was not as bright as we were told initially; that means I had to do more than ensure that his fees were paid. I arranged extra mural classes for him so that he will pick up. I am glad things are getting better. He has indeed improved. Today he is in the third term of his JSS 2”.

Oshiomhole’s passion for kids

On Oshiomhole’s disposition to the less privileged, Gillian said: “The governor loves kids a lot particularly those who are less privileged. He feels bad each time he comes across children like that. In fact the governor will rather not eat than to see children suffer and that is why, apart from the children we take of, there there are many out there that the governor sponsors in school with his personal money.

I think it has to do with his own upbringing. He did not find life easy growing up, so he is always saying he does not want children to experience such hardship and that is why he tries to give them basic education so that they can be somebody in life. The governor is from a humble background, he was not born with a silver spoon”.

Also speaking on the governor’s love for children, Obahiagbon said: “I firmly believe that the Comrade Governor is attracted to the ragtag and the bobtail for a vaudeville of raciocinations. Firstly is the fact of his background which enables him to appreciate the socio-politico-economics of our people who are deprived mostly by accident of birth. But even more fundamental in appreciating his emotional perfervidism towards this class of homosapiens, is the fact that I perceive of him as a highly evolved soul personality from the point of esotericism and metaphysical binoculars.

This is only what can account for his visceral compassion,a heart free of hatred and mostly devoid of ego. Little wonder he has no qualms in apologising for any of his actions at any point in time as in the case of the historical widow. In that case for example,he had cause to be righteously indignant at the misconduct of the widow for which he corrosively upbraided and

excoriated her, but when he later persuaded himself that the language deployed was umbrageous of societal expectations,he did not prevaricate in inviting the widow to his office for a tea session and publicly apologised to her”.

He added that the governor’s big heart had helped him overcome his political adversaries. His words: “Of course the fact of his evolved soul personality which manifests in his compassion,show of celestial love,lack of hatred and state of imperturbability has redounded in good measure in the prosecution of his many political battles.

Don’t forget that God is omnipresent,omnipotent and omniscient and the omniscienceness of God presupposes that he seeth and knoweth the mind and intentions of all beings.Seeing and knowing therefore the noble and sublime actuations of the comrade Governor, I am not in the least nonplussed that God is all too willing to invoke its omnipotency in the service of Oshiomhole’s political pursuits”.