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One of the sons of Alhaji Owolabi Jibril, the 62-year-old Lagos landlord who is bedridden and sometimes sleeps by the roadside in Ogba, a suburb within the metropolis, Gafar, has said that he and the rest of his siblings never abandoned the man.
Gafar’s position follows an exclusive report by Saturday PUNCH of June 4, 2016, where Jibril’s heartbreaking and agonising story was published.
The 62-year-old former employee of Philips Electronics and one-time commercial transport operator had told Saturday PUNCH how life had become hellish for him after being deserted by family members.
The man who now relies on a wood fitted with small tyres to move around after losing both legs to an accident some years ago, claimed to have been further frustrated by tenants at his house who had refused to pay rents for more than 10 years and even plotted to sell the building.
Jibril also revealed how an estate agent who was managing the property conned several people while trying to sell the one-storey building on Ajayi Road, Ogba. This is aside several harsh treatments he had received from people all around him who took advantage of his situation to torment and subject him to all forms of dehumanising condition.
Gafar, a National Diploma holder from a government-owned polytechnic, told our correspondent during a telephone conversation earlier in the week that they had never abandoned their father against widely held belief.
“There was never any time that we had deserted Alhaji like he claimed,” the young man said. “We have been so good to him but he has been very stubborn over the years. All our efforts to get him proper care and attention have always been rebuffed by him and that is why we were really pained after seeing the newspaper publication and all that he said.
“The accident that claimed his legs happened in March 2013 and not 2002 as he claimed in the publication. Personally I donated one and half pint of blood to ensure that his life was saved. We took him to Orthopaedic Hospital at Igbobi where we paid almost N385, 000 for a surgery to be performed on his legs. But just a day to the operation, Alhaji decided that he wasn’t interested again, that they wanted to kill him. All our pleas for him to have a change of heart fell on deaf ears. For several days I wasn’t myself. The most painful part was that even the blood I donated for him wasn’t used and the money we paid wasn’t also refunded. It was very painful,” he said.
Married to three different women at various times who together bore him four children – minus the several from concubines he cannot remember – the bond between the 62-year-old and his offsprings wasn’t really there. Living an isolated life for most of the last 10 years, Gafar and his three siblings were forced to taste the bitter side of life after moving out with their mothers at various times. According to the young man who is Jibril’s third child, the unfriendly attitude of their father towards them affected their lives.
“When he was still on his feet, whenever we went to him for financial assistance, he would tell us to go and struggle on our own and let him be,” he explained. “I remember in 2006 when I finished secondary school and told him of my desire to proceed to the university, Alhaji simply told me that he didn’t have money and that I should go and sort myself out. He never really looked after us when he was on his feet. That affection between father and children wasn’t really there between us. On several occasions, we had tried to rally round him but he has always shunned us.
“But notwithstanding how he had always treated us, we have never stopped showing him love. From time to time I and my younger sibling go to Alhaji’s place to check on him. As a family, we have never had peace since the accident that claimed his legs, we have been running up and down to ensure he is always okay. As children, we have given him all necessary support over the years because he is our father. In fact, it was after the accident he had three years ago that we the children knew ourselves. That was the first time I saw the first son and even the second child, Ramota, even though we always communicated over the phone,” he said.
Bothered by the present condition of their father, especially how he sometimes wanders around his Ogba community and dozes off by the roadside after getting ‘high’ from alcohol consumption, Gafar revealed plans the family is lining up to address the problem.
According to him, they would have long taken action if not for a number of factors beyond their immediate control.
“At the moment, we are trying to see how we can take him for rehabilitation but then money has always been a major issue,” he said. “The first time we tried to get him medical help, he refused. But now, we are willing to get him by all means which we know would require a lot of money. We don’t have the type of money required to do all these things but we trust God for a way out. It is in a bid to get him proper care and attention that I decided to come and live with him in that house. In fact, since I have been staying there for close to two months now, I have been the one taking care of his feeding from the little money I am able to gather from little hustling that I do.
“My biggest prayer is for him to leave alcohol. He became a heavy drinker some years ago after somebody duped him of a huge amount. Ever since that time, all efforts to get him to stop have proved fruitless. It is for this reason we want to take him out of that environment to a place where he would be reformed.
“Alhaji Jibril is our father; we are proud of him no matter what and cannot watch him suffer. If he gives us the chance to stand by him, we are ready to show him the best type of love. Everything that has happened to him is as a result of stubbornness. We believe God is going to touch his heart and bring him joy again,” Gafar, who refused his photograph taken, said.