*Explains why he risked his life in an action many saw as suicide attempt
By Ozioruva Aliu, BENIN CITY
HE caused uproar eight years ago as a 13-year- old boy who hid in the tyre compartment of a Lagos bound airplane from Benin City, Edo state and he was not discovered until the plane landed in Lagos.
Now 21 years old, Daniel Ricky Oikhena said he was motivated by adventure and his desire to lift his family from poverty, thinking the flight was going abroad.
Some legal practitioners then said in the eyes of the law the boy could not be charged or prosecuted because he was a juvenile and they described him as one that needed to be trained just like in other developed climes.
A lawyer, Olayiwola Afolabi said then that “First and foremost you cannot blame the boy because he is a juvenile, you cannot charge him to court because he was not caught with any arms, and the boy never meant any harm.
“To me, the boy is a genius, and needs to be trained.”
With the widespread publicity that the act attracted, state governments like those of Lagos and Osun volunteered to take over his upbringing but his state government, Edo quickly announced a scholarship for Daniel and rehabilitation of his mother who then had lost her salon shop to fire.
Eight years after, Daniel now 21 years old and a 100 level student of Business Administration, Department of Education of the state-owned Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma expressed mixed feelings when he said he was lacking proper care and that all the expectations from government had not been met although government was responsible for where he is today.
Talking about what motivation his action in 2013, he said ”What motivated me was because the situation my family was in then was very bad.
“Things were very tough for us and one thing about me is that I love exploring what is strange to me, I love adventure.
“I love moving around trying to know what is going on so I used to go to the airport everyday to watch the security.
“To watch the movement of the planes, how they land and how they take off, I studied everything before I did what I did.”
He said his thought was that the plane was going abroad and believed that he would achieve his dreams and also shared his experience while in the tyre compartment of the plane “The truth is that I thought the plane was going outside the country.
“I didn’t know it was Lagos but I just wanted to do something for my family.
“When the plane took off, I wasn’t afraid, I was not scared but the problem I had was the sound which was very much and it did a lot of damage to my ear that even now, I still feel some sounds.
“Everything was going as planned until I landed in Lagos and I was caught. I was in JSS 3. I just wanted to travel abroad and do something to help my family.”
He said “After that, I was brought back to Benin, it was the former governor, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole who promised he would take care of all my needs, that the government would give me allowance, take care of my school fees, put me in scholarship and that I won’t have any problem, that he will also take care of my mum because during that time, my mum’s shop got burnt.
“He promised to take care of my mum and that everything will be okay for us.
“Other states were also concerned about me but because of the promise by my state government.
“I believe they backed out because states like Osun and Lagos indicated interest in me but I believe they stepped down because of the position of the Edo state government.
“I am very grateful for the scholarship the government gave to me but it is not enough. Things are still very hard for me and my family.
“I still need help in any way because things are still very difficult but I remain grateful for the scholarship I am now enjoying but things are still hard.”
On how he copes at school, Oikhena said “It is my mum that still tries to support me in her little way.
“I learnt a trade, I am a hair stylist so sometimes I help people do their hair in school and they will pay me.
“That is where I get little extra money for transport and other things but it is not just enough.
“I am appealing to anyone out there that can be of assistance to me, I need all assistance,” he said, revealing that the scholarship only takes care of his school fees.
“The school environment is fine but I don’t have money, sometimes to buy books. I would not have the money to do any other things in the faculty, there is no money.
“I need allowances to take care of myself, sometimes I wear one shirt four times in a week, things are very hard.
“Feeding is a challenge that I have to get a routine for eating; sometimes I eat once a day and sometimes no food.
“My mum is the one still taking care of us so I don’t want to overburden her with my own problems.”