This is a magical story of a blind man who, through rare courage, faith and endurance exemplifies the triumph of human spirit above fears, disillusionment and hopelessness as captured by EDDIE ONUZURUIKE.
Can you believe that a blind man refused a choice relocation from a submerged house and swamped compound? Do you know that faith can still move mountains as foretold in the bible, Matthew 17:20 thus: “For verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place and it shall remove and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Do you believe the saying that what you’re looking for in Sokoto is always in your sokoto (trousers in Yoruba)?
Those who fly to far-flung prayer houses need not go too far for miracles any more, especially those in Aba and Osisioma areas. They could benefit from a pious and un-ordained prayer warrior within. If landlords can manipulate weather, they do not need area boys to sack stubborn tenants; know it now that flood can easily accomplish that even without fees!
The story of Mr Festus Onyeneho from Ife in Osisioma LGA, in Abia State and former resilient trailer driver now blind, is a near modern day magic. His experience could answer all the questions posed above.
The radio used to be a powerful communication agent in pre-independence era and after. Old men glued their ears to any of the brands of electronic radios of varying sizes. The tiny transistor radios which came after the big brands made radio more accessible and ubiquitous.
The new entrant was neither heavy nor voracious in battery consumption. Just sling it on your shoulder or place it on the fence and move on, even with menial jobs. It made waves and listeners could swear affidavits on the validity of what they got from the radio but not anymore.
The root cause of this loss of face are the localisation of TV stations and cable TVs which have whittled down the power of the radio, shifting attention to African Magic, Philippine films, Telemundo and soap operas of foreign lands, but the Magic FM in Aba scored a magical point with Mr Festus Onyeneho who became an addict of the same FM station in Aba.
Onyeneho adopted this FM station as his favourite. Probably after he became blind in two eyes, he regularly listened and contributed to radio programmes and used the medium to appeal for help over the submergence of his two-plot compound.
Chinwuba Nwachukwu, an aide of Senator T A Orji became restless after listening to the man’s distress story on radio. He traced Festus home to get his story first-hand and detailed too. Thereafter, he instantly remembered a man who could help. Even when he was sure that T A Orji would listen, he became afraid of being a harbinger of disaster and a frequent intercessor for people in trouble.
These, he reasoned could put him in the bad books of some public spirited fellows as his suggestions would certainly result in would-be donors spending unplanned and unbudgeted funds.
Recall that Mr Nwachukwu in 2016 narrated the sad situation where the Umuomainta Women Development Centre in Isiala-Ngwa North LGA in Abia State was stranded for 11 years before Sen. Orji pulled the chestnut out of fire for them. To the good of humanity, the place is still very much in use today. The Umulenwa Village close by equally got a borehole for themselves from the Senator.
Luckily for him, on hearing this, Senator T A Orji gave him marching orders to construct and relocate the man to another 3-bedroom flat within 21 days. He was shocked when the former trailer driver rejected the offer. Rather, he gave him an unquestionable alternative. Some would wonder if a man hounded by flood could be courageous enough to have a choice.
Another question was the unending rains and rising flood in the compound. Rains and the resultant floods have been known to stop huge construction works, and it so frightened Chinwuba and gang, but Festus brought his fate to work as you will see.
Festus had mastered his compound to suit and soothe his blindness with his wooden walking stick; he could manoeuvre the compound and house, carrying out chores even beyond what any blind person could be expected to do. Surprisingly, he had perfected the art of constructing stakes and silt foot bridges in his compound. Bothering his mind was the fear of keeping his ancestral inheritance and property intact for his children and so preferred perimeter fencing of his compound to keep away flood.
But water, like fire, is a good servant but bad master. When you drive it and don’t show a good alternative, it will find its way and level; so, the solution to Festus became melancholic to his neighbour in another compound and Senator T A Orji came to their rescue again.
Before achieving this feat was a spectacular event that would have deterred the most courageous. It was the heart of the rainy season and the compound was already submerged. Therefore, no meaningful work could be done and more rains brought more flood. When Chinwuba and gang highlighted this challenge to Festus, he confidently averred, “I went to church yesterday, I prayed to God and told Him that, if He is the one that sent Sen. T A Orji to rescue me and my family from being swept away by flood, he should please hold back the rains till the end of the project.”
Festus tested his fate like Abraham. God held back the rains until all the construction work reached completion. Chinwuba thought I would doubt his story and curiously searched my face, but I have my personal experience that confirmed the faith of Festus.
This happened a few years to the civil war. A man known as Gabriel Umegarakwe, devout and spiritual, living in Umuezela Ndume in Umuahia North LGA came to the Assemblies of God Church in Ohokobe Ndume where he worshipped. That Sunday, he signalled to be included in the list of confessors for the day as was doctrinally accepted.
Faces furrowed in doubt. De’nkwe, as he was fondly called, lived piously and couldn’t have fallen into the regular trap of adultery, a regular item in open confessions. As if to reassure the congregants that he was above adultery, he confessed to the whole church for taking bad examples from Moses who struck the rock too hard and led the Israelites into distress.
Being highly respected and sympathetic of his plight, our ears nearly tingled before he started. As he narrated, some goats turned his beautiful vegetable garden into their playground. It was in June and July, the greeniest season in Igbo land. He was angered for the devastation by the careless goats and prayed to God to hold the goats for him. He inflicted knife cuts on all the goats and they were only able to limp out when he had finished.
Yes, these miracles happen if you believe that the God that did it for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is still alive. You can equally pray for yourself in truth and in spirit for God promised us that He will always answer. I may not be a preacher but can spread the gospel.
It wasn’t the first time Ochendo has built houses for people. As the governor of Abia State for eight years, he built churches, roofed other edifices when the owners and organisations were stuck like a big lorry in the mud, but may not have the resources today no matter how large his heart may be, but I am very sure that Festus’ luck would not be the last.
For this, Senator Orji, has added one more to his social responsibilities for his constituents. Since his sojourn to the National Assembly in 2015, he has embarked on annual scholarships, free eye medical surgeries now extended to include non-communicable diseases and capacity building for youths in skills acquisition and agriculture. To God be the glory!