By Chioma Obinna
The time was exactly 12:05 pm at the arrival hall of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos.
Among the new arrivals were these Nigerian children and their parents who could not hold back their emotions as they freely shed tears of joy.
They also profusely gave vent to their feeling of gratitude as they poured encomiums on their benefectors for saving them from their health predicament.
Before now the returning children could not run, jump and dance or even play like their mates.
Some had lived like that for over 13 years. Their condition did not only affect their growth but also affected the meagre resources of their parents. Some have been taken to the nooks and crannies of the country in search of help but found none.
These unfortunate Nigerians were united by a common problem: They were suffering from various heart ailments. Sadly enough, their situation was made worse by the fact that their parents could not afford to pay their hospital bills outside the country. And in desperation, they had resorted to taking all sorts of concoction, believing it will put an end to their sufferings.
In most cases, their embattled parents sold off their treasured belongings to raise money for treatment.Â Such was the trauma ofÂ theÂ parents that some of them soon succumbed to terminal illnesses as a result of exhaustion.
But on September 7, 2009, Nigerians found these formerly doomed kids and their parentsÂ singing a different song, one laced with palpable joy. Sure they have every reason to happy once again in their lives after a long spell of pain and sorrow.
Two weeks ago, nine helpless Nigerian kids left the shores of this country for a life-saving corrective heart surgery far away in Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery, at the Blue Nile area of Khartoum, Sudan.
This fortuitous trip came courtesy of the humanitarian intervention of the Kanu Heart Foundation (KHF) and Emergency Italy, World wide.Â Â Â Indeed,Â it was joy galore as they happily re-united with their family members who have been at the airport before 10am.
Among the nine beneficiaries of the corrective surgery abroad are Jeffrey Sambe Jeremiah(four years), Basit Adana(five), Goodnews Amodu, Emmanuel Gilbert, Clement Orji(29) and Kareem Otufowora( 17).
Unfortunately, while others were rejoicing as theyÂ re-united with their families, one of them, 29 years Clement Orji was not so fortunate. Doctors at the Salam Cardiac Centre Sudan after carrying out cauterization on him discovered that his case was a high risk one. The most pathetic aspect of Clement Orjiâ€™s case is that his aged mother is currently down with stroke and cannot afford to help him in any way.
In a chat with Vanguard Metro, shortly after their arrival, the Coordinator of Kanu Heart Foundation (KHF), Deacon Onyebuchi Abia who described the free surgery as a wonderful experience called on well-meaning Nigerians and corporate organisationsÂ to assist the Foundation as aboutÂ 500 people are still on the waiting lists.
Abia who said KHF never believed the partnership with Emergency Italy to operate the beneficiaries free of charge was real also disclosed that the organisation has promised to operate 20 patients from Nigeria this year and 50 patients from Nigeria and other Africa countries free of charge annually.
He announced that the remaining 12 patients that will complete this yearâ€™s slot will be leaving the country for Sudan next month.
Expressing joy that the partnership with Emergency Italy was a success, Abia said: â€œIt has been a wonderful experience. I am elated in the sense that it is becoming a reality,Â because when we started this partnership, we were like, â€˜is this possible, can they do it free for us?â€™ We signed agreement and I personally took the nine patients to Sudan.
Behold today, theÂ eight of them have been successfully operated. Except one Cletus Orji whom the doctors said they cannotÂ handle it because of the high risk involved. We are thinking of taking him to India or Germany. But the most important thing is that we were able to get a place where we can be operating these childrenÂ free of chargeâ€.
Soliciting assistance for these less privileged Nigerians, he said: â€œWhat we are telling Nigerians is that we know about the global melt down but they should also help in the areas of tickets and logistics. We are asking Nigerians to assist since we have gotten a place we can do it free before it wasnâ€™t so. Sometimes we pay as high as $8,000 or $10,000 before you can operate.â€
Families of the beneficiaries also expressed gratitude to the foundation.
Mr. Aminu Adana, Father of five-year- old Basit Adana who expressed joy prayed that God will bless Kanu Nwankwo in his football career.Â Folashade Otufowora, a retired orderly at the Orthopaedic hospital Igbobi Lagos, who was filled with joy disclosed that the Foundation has lifted a 13 year old burden on her neck.
A serving police officer, Joshua Jeremiah Sambe whose child also benefitted from the surgery said â€œI am not just happy but over joy because KHF and Emergency ItalyÂ has lifted off my shoulder a heavy burden.Â Something I could not have afford.I am very grateful. I never paid kobo for this surgery.
Also speaking, Clement Orji said: â€œI cannot say that I am happy but they have promised to take me to Germany or India. I was not operated because of the high risk. I have faith that one day I will be okay. I appeal to Nigerians to support KHF to be able to take me to India or Germanyâ€.
We should finish Ganiâ€™s unfinished biz – Igbokwe
ACTION Congress, AC, Publicity Secretary in Lagos State, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, has called on Nigerians to finish the unfinished business ofÂ Chief Gani Fewehimi SAN, saying that doing that will restore sanity, growth and integrity in Nigeria.
Igbokwe also described the late legal practioner as the finest soul that walked the â€œpolitical landscape called Nigeria,â€ adding that his capacity to record events with precision and accuracy will ever remain a case study for students in higher institutions.
According to him: â€œThe duty we all owe Gani is to ensure that the court jesters, the charlatans, the predators, the scavengers, the palace clowns do not succeed in Nigeria. The unfinished business must be finished and Nigeria restored to the path of sanity, honor, growth, and integrity.
â€œChief Gani Fawehinmi was the finest soul that walked the political landscape called Nigeria. He was the most detailed Nigerian that ever lived. Gani did not go to his many battles unprepared. His capacity to record events with precision and accuracy] will ever remain a case study for students in higher institutions.â€
Continuing, Igbokwe said: â€œWhen General Obasanjo became president in 1999, he preferred to travel abroad at the drop of a hat because he thought he could rule Nigeria from abroad until Gani reminded him the number of times he had travelled outside with dates and number of days spentâ€.
Abandoned day-old baby found in Lagos
EMOTIONS ran high on Monday at the Tolu Divisional Headquarters somewhere in Ajegunle in Ajeromi-Ifelodun Local Government Area after a day-old baby was brought to the station.
The baby later confirmed to be a girl still had her umbilical cord un- severed as at the time she was brought to the station by a middled-aged man who sought anonymity.
The incident which drew the attention of sympathisers, including police men and women who were on morning duty at the station during the early hours of the day elicited the peopleâ€™s anger as they rained curses on the heartless mother.
â€œThis is the fruit of womb that many women are looking for; some are even millionaires but they cannot have it.Â This same fruit of the womb is what somebody has thrown away like this.
Now if by tomorrow this heartless woman can no longer bear children she will begin to run from pillar to post, and at the end of the day,Â blame God.Â This same God will never forgive who ever may have done this to this harmless baby,â€ lamented a middle-aged mother.
Meanwhile, the baby had since been takenÂ to the Tolu Medical Centre for first aid care and the severance of the umbilical cord.
Reacting to the development, the State Command Deputy Police Public Relations Officer, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Chris Oyeisi, who described the act as â€œungodly and unpardonableâ€ said the little baby would be transferred to the Juvenile Welfare Centre (JWC) at Alakara, Munshi if certified to be in good health.