By Emem Idio
YENAGOA—A first time encounter with Daniel Odey Udeh, popularly known as “Man of God” diligently breaking stones and patching up potholes on major streets of Yenagoa metropolis, Bayelsa State, one would mistake him for an employee of the state Ministry of Works or Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, FERMA. Ironically, his worn-down appearance makes look like someone, who ekes out a living from handouts from motorists, but in truth, Udeh is a Civil Engineering graduate of the University of Jos, UNIJOS.
It was out of sheer curiosity that Niger Delta Voice decided to visit Man of God, who has become very popular among motorists, particularly the Keke NAPEP operators in the state capital. It was a no holds bared According to Udeh, an indigene of Benue state, who is in his late 30s, when there is no menial construction job for him to do, he fills potholes, instead of idling away. His dedication to the task is what attracts people to him and they were prompted to nickname him ‘Man of God.’
He told our reporter: “My name is Daniel Odey Udeh, I am from Benue state, I am a graduate of Civil Engineering from the University of Jos, I am not married yet. I specialised in construction, but I do not have a paid job, so I do menial construction jobs. However, you see the menial jobs do not come regularly, so when there is no job, I come out to do this instead of idling away or begging.”
Free will and kindness
Udeh added: “Some drivers appreciate my effort and they usually give me money, I do not force them, they give me out of their free will and kindness. Most times, I go home with N1, 000, N2, 000 or more. I also use part of the money to buy stones and gravel. I also pay the keke driver that helps me carry the stones to where I want to work, for instance, I bought theses stones for N1, 400, which I am using to work.”
Motorists notify me about bad spots
“Nobody harasses me, not even the police or other security personnel, they do not disturb me, and instead of harassing me, people appreciate me and give me money. You see the hammer that I am working with, a good Nigerian bought it for me. “Most bad spots are recommended to me by people, particularly motorists. I was at another location in (Okaka area) yesterday, and today, someone directed me to come here, (Imgbi Road), that there are bad spots need attention, that is why I am here.
Some people abuse me
“However, some people abuse me, others say I am damaging the road and causing traffic gridlock, I am not bothered because it is not everybody that will appreciate your good deeds,” he said. On the opinion of some persons that he either is a beggar or mentally deranged, Udeh said: “I am not a mad man or beggar; I am ‘Man of God.’ I do what I do because of God, not man. But if God wants to use someone to bless me with a job or anything that will improve my life, I will appreciate it.”