• Saturday, July 20, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Daring DANIEL IHEKINA will make the Oscars

businessday-icon

Many months after the Daniel Ihekhina’s adventure that held the Aviation fraternity spell bound and intensely shook the foundation of Nigeria as country; thereby drawing the attention of the International Community (IC) to the country in a form of criticism and related pessimistic languages, Nigerians have resumed asking questions on the whereabouts of the lad who had the guts to dared what the high and mighty stars of Hollywood would not. Some wondered why Daniel Ihekhina was yet to feature in any Nollywood movies or script written on his character.

The teenage boy had in sometime in August 2013 beat airline and airport security at the Benin Airport and sneaked into the tyre compartment of a Lagos-bound Arik plane, where he flew safely to the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos that fateful morning. Passengers disembarking from the aircraft saw the lad as he emerged from the undercarriage (aircraft tyre hole) to join fellow travelers.

Unusual disposition of teen

He was rough handled and manhandled by security operatives at the Lagos Airport when he was caught. Though, he knew he had done something wrong by societal norms and standard, he stood tall even before the intimidating presence of security men because he also knew he was not a terrorist. He was taken for questioning immediately. His mother Mrs. Evelyn Ihekhina was invited for quizzing as well. No one lay to heart that taking him immediately for questioning maybe too much for him having flown in the air in such a noxious manner. Though, a hero he was, he was not really seen as such. Other children, even some adults would have broken down in tears and howling. His heart is big perhaps since he is from Edo state; the heart beat of Nigeria.

Under rate the capability of Daniel Ihekina at your peril. He is fearless and fearsome. He is adventurous and daring. He also was not afraid of the Devil nor the principalities and powers who rules over the sky. Unlike many who died many times before their eventual death, he was not afraid of death. He confronted death at the gate of death. The fear of death was never the beginning of wisdom for Daniel Ihekina. In fact, death was afraid of him!

Like the man who was blind from birth as recorded in the Holy Book until his encounter with Jesus of Nazareth-said to the religious leaders who doubted he was born blind: “Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind”, the people of the world in general, and Nigerians in particular have in the same vein witnessed another miracle of how a teenage Nigerian boy of 13 years hung on the tyre angle of an airplane from Benin to Lagos (an hour journey) defiling every security apparatus to fulfill his mission. The mission of setting a world record! A record that may remain unbroken for decades to come!

Since the world began too, it is unheard of that any man or woman on planet earth hung on the tyre compartment of an airplane and flew with the plane across the sky. “Hollywood”, not because it is a community of saints, was yet to produce a star like Daniel Ihekina. Wesley Snipe, in a movie call “Passenger 57” entered a moving plane on the run way underneath the plane. But it was a film trick. Arnold Swazzenigger also jumped down from a plane that had just taking off in another movie call “Commando”. It was another film trick from Hollywood. They were never real actions under real circumstances like that of Daniel Ihekina. All of the woods put together: Holly, Bolly and Nolly are all exaggerated scenes. Not even the James Bond character and all the celebrated movie stars in the world may be able to attempt the laudable feat of Daniel Ihekina. He is the real James Bond that even Nollywood producers are not taking knowledge of now! Hollywood would have done otherwise!

Gabriel Imadojemu, a graduate of Mass Communication at the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo state,  said should what Daniel Ihekina did had taken place in the U.S, Cable News Network (CNN) would have reported the event in such way that the world would have  seen more of his courage and fearlessness than the negative aspect of what he did. He said the lad Daniel, was a visionary who could put his life on the line to achieve his vision.

“Let me tell you the truth. Even if millions of naira was to be given to some people to do what Daniel did, scarcely would you find somebody to attempt it at least, before Daniel’s feat”, he said. He added that the argument then in some quarters that should Daniel be given a pat in the back, it would encourage many to take on such dangerous enterprise in the future was baseless. “He should be helped to harness such ‘talent’ to fly because it is there for everyone to see. People like him are not many in the world because he is a record setter. Who will dare that kind of risk? Not even Hollywood stars”, he said.

“One major problem that we have in this part of the world is that: we tend not to recognize natural star when we see one”, said Tolulope Ojemuyiwa a lecturer at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). He opined that what an insightful authorities should have done when he was caught would be to put him (Daniel) on National Television in order to highlights some hidden traits in him for the whole world to see what a Nigerian is capable of rather than over scrutinizing him for security reasons as it happened then.“He was not a terrorist and everybody including security operatives knows this by now. He was just a curious teen who was seeking greener pasture. His kind is one in a million. Government must tell Nigerians what has become of Daniel Ihekina ten years from now. We as Nigerians must also begin to hold government accountable for wasting such obvious talent. I heard that scholarship was given to him somewhere. If it is true, it’ is a step in the right direction. Such talent must not be allowed to be wasted”, he said.

For Sunnie Amajor, a Facilitator with the National Institute for Transformation (NIS), the Nigerian authority would have been more concern at the time in analyzing Daniel Ihekina’s mind through various government Psychological agencies who could help in that regard. He said the first thing that should be asked was: what was his pursuit that leads to him embarking on such a journey.

“I think his immediate environment has also influenced him”, he said. “You know the Benin people love to travel abroad through whatever means. He was actually quoted to have said that he thought the plane was going to the U.S. Something much deeper was driving him; because I do not think he was looking for fame and wealth. He is still 13. There could be an inbuilt something inside this young man that must be brought to the fore for the benefits of the country. This kind of strength is there on the streets. We have seen the area boys use it. They manifest it in diverse ways. Right here in Nigeria we don’t nurtured this kind of attitude. This kind of attitude is a very good attitude. A young man who have nothing at stake decided to risk his life for a purpose like that. This is the kind of people we need in this country if we must someday boast of what the developed world do that we currently don’t”, he said.

Sunnie Amojor, who happens to be a clergyman, however warned that government must be careful not to allow Daniel Ihekhina fall into the hands of waiting terrorists who are ever ready to recruit innocent and naïve young ones for fundamentalism. “The boy Daniel has shown strength of character permit me to say. Terrorists are looking for courageous young ones like that to brainwash and recruit to fight against the state. The plane would have been erased down had he been a terrorist. If government doesn’t do something, there are agents of darkness waiting to act. Nigerian are not aware of what government has decided to do with him”, he said.

The Press Secretary to the Edo State Governor, Kassim Afegbua told BusinessDay on the telephone that the Adams Oshiomole led administration in the state was doing all in its power to ensure the lad Daniel was given the needed support particularly in the area of his education.

“At the moment Daniel is in the best school in Edo state. He is in boarding school at the expense of Edo State Government. Aviation experts said at the time that it was a miracle for him to be alive. Him been alive alone is an indication that he is a special boy destined for greatness. If he wants to become a pilot he should be serious with his studies because a lot of geographical and related readings are required to be a pilot”, said Prince Kassim Afegbua.

While thanking the Edo state government for its effort to educated the lad, his mother Mrs. Evelyn Ihekhina told BusinessDay on the telephone that her son’s heroic act and the resultant attention it drew to the family was yet to improve the  living condition of her family.

She lamented that on the contrary, relatives have been going about peddling rumour that the state government had given her up to N60 million to take care of herself and her children. “This is what I want the whole world to know. Edo state government did not give me any money before people come and kill me for money that does not exist. My husband and I are not together again. I have been sleeping from house to house. Even when Daniel returns from boarding school he does have a place to sleep. I tried to encourage him that things would get better. Sometime Daniel really feels like going back to Lagos because he said he was treated better there. He is only comfortable when he is in school. I am just hoping that government would find something for me to do so that I can be of help to him when he is away from school”, said 39 years old Evelyn Ihekhina.

NATHANIEL AKHIGBE