Friday June 1st 2012 12 pmish
Me: Obi have you seen the invitation card I dropped on your table?
Obi: Doc, you are funny o! Which one be Mr. and Mrs. Obi Akubueze
Me: You know now! Na wetin you suppose don do
Obi: Doc, leave story. We’ll talk when you come back…
Same day or the day or the day before…
Bottle of groundnuts being shared in the office
Me: Lamidi, no more groundnuts for you
Lamidi: Ah Doctor, you too have joined them…
Needless to say that the Dana Airline crash of 3rd June 2012 was a disaster of humongous proportions. A rather strange disaster at that in my opinion, especially considering the nature and caliber of people who perished that fateful day. So much pain inflicted suddenly on an already groaning populace. Brings to mind the picture of an interrogator or inquisitor trying to see how much more pain his already battered and bruised captive would be able to bear. Everywhere one turned then, there was somebody directly or indirectly affected by the crash. Darkness bleaker than the dreariest of nights cast upon a people desperately trying to claw their way out of the incessant nightmares thrust upon them by successive hapless governments. Pain! The passing of the days may have dulled it but the ache will remain a long time with us. What we lost on that day is beyond all comprehension. Tears one apart from the insides out.
4 of you. Obinna Akubueze, Benson Oluwayomi, Lamidi Taiwo, and Anthony Okara. Still so hard to take.
I miss you bro. You were my go-to guy. Man of many parts. There was always something new. Concept, project, proposal, idea, business… Never an idle moment. You had this thing about there being so much to be done at every point, and you were never one to shy away from all that work. Sometimes I step into your office and can almost hear your ever present humming. Not exactly sure you could sing, but if there was ever a humming competition, I would have penciled you down right away for the finals. It was never difficult to make you laugh. The sound of it rings in my ears even as I write these words. Everyone who knew you knew that there was something great out there for you. It was only a matter of time. Time that will never be. So much left unfinished. So much indeed.
The most inspiring thing about you was your faith and quiet confidence in God. One did not need to come to close to realize that that was the anchor of your soul. You knew God and that showed in everything that you did. Always encouraging. There are many who would attribute certain achievements in their lives to the constant nudging the got from associating with you. Your focus was amazing. When I think about it, it was as though you knew that you did not have the liberty of time on this side of eternity. There was greatness in you and you made sure it rubbed off on the people close to you. The seeds you have sown will long outlive you Benson. The good that you have done will always stand as a constant memorial to you. Your generations will always be blessed and will not know lack because your hands and mind were constantly open. You are dearly missed.
If all the groundnuts in this world would bring you back, I am sure those of us who shared that final moment together would gladly give it to have you back. Quiet and quite gentle. Soft spoken and slightly mischievous. It was always good to be with you. Always good to see the smile upon your face. Always jovial about everything. If you did not know, you were never too proud to ask. Your commitment and dedication to the tasks given was well known. You were a really good person to know and I am glad that I had that opportunity.
Gentle Tony. Simple words but sum up in general the kind of person you were. Hardly a complaint would one get from you. Even when the pressure of work was much (as it generally always was), you did not complain. Even though you were gentle and generally reserved, you knew a lot of stuff as I came to find out.
It really has not been the same without you guys. Not 1, not 2, not even 3, but 4 of you at the same time. That was rather too much, and inexplicably so.
In the last one year, I have asked myself from time to time if it was all for nothing. I find that the general Nigerian landscape has become that people just generally try to forget and try to move on (as difficult as that really is in reality). I guess that this is probably some defense mechanism we have inculcated as a people in order to help us keep our sanity in the face of rampant wastage and profligacy; in the face of truly having plenty, yet having scant little to show for it. Truly, it would be most terrible if indeed nothing has changed and the factors that brought us so much pain are still overlooked and covered up in corruption.
I am sure I speak for the whole Walter Reed Program Nigeria and the Nigerian Ministry of Defence HIV program in saying that we miss you dearly. We will always remember you, emulate the examples you left for us, and ensure to the best of our abilities, that your hard work and sacrifice will not be in vain.
May your gentle souls rest in peace. Adieu once again!