Femi Aina, the father of Oreoluwa Aina, a National Youth Service Corps member, who died on Thursday when a Lagos State Government staff bus collided with a train in the PWD area said his daughter was preparing for her master’s in the United Kingdom, UK, after the service year before the unfortunate incident.
The heartbroken father disclosed this during an interview with PUNCH.
“She was preparing to go to the United Kingdom for her Master’s programme after her youth service ends in May, but unfortunately, all her plans had been dashed. She happened to be the first grandchild of my parents and she stayed with my mum here in Lagos because our dad passed away last year, so she had always been with her grandmother. She was dear to everyone around including church, school and at work. Her death is a great loss,” he said.
The 28-year-old lady was buried on Saturday at the Atan cemetery, Lagos.
Excerpts from the interview below:
How did you receive the news of your daughter’s death?
I was in Abuja watching the television around 9 am when I saw the incident. An hour after that, I got a call that my daughter was involved in it. That was when I knew what I saw on TV was actually happening to me. Then I immediately called my younger brother and sister in Lagos. I later received two more calls in another 10 minutes and by then, she was already in the ICU (intensive care unit). They were attending to her and at the same time calling me from there. I even heard some of the staff members praying for her. So, I rushed to the airport to get any available flight back to Lagos but when my plane was ready to take off by 4 pm, I was told that she had passed away.
When was the last time you communicated with her?
On Wednesday, my younger brother’s wife celebrated her birthday. She recorded the birthday and sent it to us. We all laughed at the video and the following morning (Thursday) she sent a WhatsApp message to me saying, “Daddy how was your night? Hope you slept well,” and I replied, “All is well” and there was no response after then. I even thought she did not respond because she ran out of data, not knowing that she was already involved in an accident.
Were you aware that she used to board the staff bus?
I know she boarded the staff bus, but not every day. If not for this cashless nonsense policy, she would not have followed that bus. But she did not have cash, so she had to follow the bus. She had just N200. They just kill people anyhow in this country.
Did she share any of her aspirations with you?
Yes, many of them. She planned to travel to the UK for her Master’s programme, and she was already into catering. She was part of a thrift society and they even called me from there yesterday to inform me about it. She was saving money to start a mobile food business. Even though she had plans to study more, she was just trying to do things. She was also into music and she recorded in the studio. We are a member of The Apostolic Church and she was a staunch member. I learnt she was even the one that led the song last Sunday. She had so many plans and she was just about to fly. It was just this youth service which is mandatory that she wanted to complete and then fly.
What is your assessment of the response of the state government to the incident?
Sincerely, I was impressed. When I arrived in Lagos, I went straight to LASUTH and I saw how the victims were being attended to. I saw different injuries with different segments and how they were trying to help everybody. They tried their approach to that level of emergency. They were trying to salvage whatever they could.
What is your take on the driver?
I am not happy with the driver at all. The driver had caused a lot of damage. I learnt they want to do a mental test for him. Let the law just take its course. I can’t say what is on my mind.
What do you expect the state government to do following this incident?
The governor was here yesterday and we spoke at length. The government needs to carry out a re-evaluation of our drivers, especially those who carry such a large number of people. A lot can be done to evaluate people so that we keep our lives in their hands. Possibly, the way they do for pilots, if we can value our lives like that, this thing could have been averted because my thinking is that the driver must have been doing something like that before now. This cannot be the first time. When they are doing roadworthiness, they should also do mental worthiness or whatever they can call it. We hear tankers falling on cars in this same Lagos, things that are not meant to happen normally. We can take them seriously as doctors who spend seven to ten years in school because they want to treat a human being. But we just give a driver a license to convey close to 95 people in a bus at a time and we don’t know the health or the mental state of such a person. We take them as just drivers but our lives are in their hands. So, if there is anything the governor can do to evaluate them if possible – constantly.