BY BENJAMIN NJOKU
Until that black night of Monday, August 6, 2007, Mrs Maureen Udeobi, who hails from Achalla in Awka North LGA, was bubbling with life.
Except for the daily grind of trying to eke a living, selling fruits in a makeshift stall at Iyana-Ejigbo, an outlier of the Isolo suburb of Lagos, she was on top of her world.
Then, she used to go as far as the Mile 12 market in Ketu, Kosofe area of Lagos, to get supplies for her fruits trade. As early as 8 am, she would open her shop and sold fruits endlessly to her numerous customers, ranging from civil servants to businessmen and women until about 9 pm when she would close for the day, and head to her home at Bucknor area of Ejigbo.
But all that is now in the past, as the mother of five children has been dealt a cruel blow by fate. She was a victim of LASTMA masterminded accident, which happened in Ejigbo area of Lagos about four years ago. The accident claimed one of her legs, leaving her to her own fate.
Today, Mrs Udeobi is not only grieving in respect of her present predicament, but mostly, she is pained because the Lagos State government which initially gave her hope and succour after the accident have eventually deserted her.
A visit to her Ejigbo, Lagos home, presents a deary picture of a woman in dire of help and rehabilitation. Her condition has gone from bad to worse, and if nothing urgently is done to bring smile to her face again, the middle aged woman may not survive the trauma that has already engulfed her life.
While in her new apartment, which she claimed was rented for her by her town union, hopelessness and abandonment are the words to describe her mood.
As heartbreaking as her situation is, she is still optimistic that if given the financial assistance she is craving for, she will bounce back to life.
Hear her story; “My name is Mrs. Maureen Udeobi. I have been residing in Ejigbo since 1995. I hail from Achalla in Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State. I have five children and my ageing husband is jobless. I sold fruits at Iyana-Ejigbo until 2007, when I had the accident that claimed my left leg and reduced me to a shadow of my old self.”
She continued, “On that black night, I was heading to my house after closing from business when tragedy struck. A car that was trailed by the LASTMA officials in Ejigbo eventually ran into the okada that was conveying me home, and consequently crushed my left leg.
The incident happened around 9pm at NNPC junction, Ejigbo. Immediately, the LASTMA officials disappeared from the scene, and I was later rushed to one Dr. Bone Cinic, with the hope that my broken leg would be sewn together.
But after spending 10 days at the clinic, my town union moved me to Samelia hospital, where an operation was carried out on the affected leg. I spent three months there. Consequently, owing to the deteriorating state of my health, my leg was amputated and an artificial limbs were made available for me.”
“During that period, Governor Raji Fashola sent a medical doctor to trace the hospital where I was admitted and if possible move me to a government owned hospital. But then, I was already getting better. When I was discharged, the governor picked the medical billing, and invited me to Alausa, where he gave me a cheque of N200,000 and a complimentary card .
He asked me to call him any time I needed help from the government. According to the Doctor, the Governor paid a medical bill of N1.3million for three months.”
Contrary to reports at that time that Governor Fashola doled out millions of Naira for her medical bills, she incurred for the provision of the artificial limbs and more for her rehabilitation, the victims disclosed that she was given only a cheque of N200,000,00 and a complimentary card by the governor.
“Ï used to live at Bucknor area of Ejigbo before I moved into a new apartment after I was discharged from the hospital. The place was no longer conducive for me to get back for obvious reasons. My business has failed as I cannot continue it now with my present condition. I don’t know what to do at the moment.
All my children have stopped schooling. I’m no longer there to help them again. Before my predicament, I was the breadwinner of the family, and now, I’m a burden to my family.”
“I used part of the money Governor Fashola gave to me to pay for the school fees of my son who is a two -level International Relations student of Lagos State University. My town union paid for the rent of my new apartment. For three years now, I have not been able to pay my rent.
In fact, on number of occasions, I have called the line that was on the complimentary card that was given to me by Governor Fashola without any positive response.
“I equally sent an e-mail to him, but got no reply. At the moment, my son has dropped out from the university. I have also withdrawn my last child who was initially attending private school and put her in a public school to ensure that she did not drop out as well.
I’m virtually hopeless and unproductive. With one leg, I cannot do all the running around again, going to Mile 12 market in Ketu, Kosofe area of Lagos, to get supplies for fruits. The burden is too much for me,” she lamented.
Udeobi said, she would be happy to behold a situation when Lagos State government will assist her in upsetting her house rent as well as her children’s school fees.
According to her, each time she remembers her condition, she always depressed. “I don’t feel good any longer because of thinking on her to feed my family. At times, we find it difficult to eat on daily basis. I can no longer continue to live with this kind of condition. I still look young and promising, but now, condition has made me aged.”
Also, while calling on the Lagos State government to come to the help of his mother-in-law, Mr. Stanley Ezime described his mother in law as a very industrious woman, who used to be the breadwinner of her family.
Mr Ezime, a trader in Ejigbo and a husband to the victim’s first daughter said ever since his mother in law found herself in her present predicament, he has been the one providing for her. He said they have decided to take this step, following the inability of the victim to hear from Governor Fashola of Lagos State again as he promised.