My five kids don't know what's befallen them - Wife of man who died in Kwara bridge collapse
Mrs Ann Okechukwu, wife of the late Okechukwu Nwagboo, aka Ajayi, who died in the Oko-Erin bridge collapse, Kwara State, shares her grief with TUNDE OYEKOLA
How did you get to know about the incident that claimed the life of your husband?
He (my late husband) was a textile dealer and we both managed the textile shops together. His death was a painful one because both of us were together the morning of that same day he died. He left for his shop on that day. Later, I put a call across to him to know his whereabouts and he replied that he was on his way home. He said I should not sleep so that I would open the gate for him. I think that was the last call he received before the unfortunate incident. I was waiting for him and when it was about 11pm, I called his number again, but the number was switched off. Thereafter, I called his younger brother to notify him that my husband had yet to arrive home and that his phone number was switched off.
What did he tell you?
His brother promised to call somebody too to find out what went wrong. Subsequently, I called him (his brother) severally but he did not pick my calls again. Throughout that night I could not sleep. Very early the next day, I rushed to his house but he was not around and I met the wife who told me that my husband
was involved in an accident the previous night and that he was in an undisclosed hospital. She said her husband went to the hospital to see my husband. Curiously, I said she should tell me the name of the hospital so that I can go there to see him myself. She pacified me to hold my peace that all would be well Ė I didnít know that my husband had already passed away. Later on, I left the place for my house, thinking those who went to the hospital would come and take me to the hospital. I waited until 2pm of that day before they came to inform me that my husband had died.
How old was your husband and when did you get married?
He was 42 years old. We got married 10 years ago. I put to bed about three weeks ago. We are blessed with five kids and the first one is 10 years old.
How would you describe your late husband?
He was a caring and loving husband. He was generous and jovial. Since we got married, he had never beaten me. He used to do everything in excess for me. Because of his kindness, people across the world have called to condole with me. People called from Spain, United States of America and other places. A man heard it in China and called. His generosity was legendary. He could not withstand seeing people undergoing any stress in life.
How have the children been coping with the news of their fatherís death?
The children are not aware that their father is dead. Some of them have been asking me the whereabouts of their father, but I have been telling them that he would soon be around. Some of them didnít know that something happened to their father. They were just behaving as if nothing happened. They donít know what has befallen them.
What can you say is responsible for your husbandís death?
I can say without mincing words that the government is responsible for my husband's death. This is because of poor infrastructural facilities. If the roads had been good, that bridge would not have collapsed. I urge the Kwara State Government to give out road works to qualified contractors who will not do shoddy jobs. This will go a long way to further avoid loss of lives. I also implore it to compensate our family for this irreparable loss. The government should look into that.Government's inaction caused his death. It was supposed to fund the burial expenses because it was the cause. If the bridge had been good, he would not have died. The burial is the governmentís burden. My husband was not sick. He went to his shop for his daily business activities and on his way back home, the tragic incident occurred.
Did your late husband discuss any future plans before his death?
His plan was to build a state-of-the-art hotel and, thereafter, quit his textile business. He had already started building the hotel in Ilorin. He hoped to retire into that hospitality business.
The two other persons that died with him were on apprenticeship in his shop.
Have their families contacted you?
Their families said after their burial, we must settle their entitlements. Unfortunately, the person to settle them is no more, but their families don't want to know. It means the burial will be an expensive one and I don't have such money. I don't even know how to go about that. What they are saying is that after their burial we will take care of the families of the deceased apprentices.