By Azuh Arinze

It was undoubtedly the loudest sound I had heard in my 50 years of existence. In fact, the only thing that could come close was the bomb explosion that rocked Ikeja, Lagos Cantonment on January 27, 2002. The next thing, our car flipped over, landed on its side, and the air bags deployed immediately. Smoke enveloped the whole surrounding. I heard my friend and brother, Olumide Iyanda, screaming and asking a staccato of questions, with blood gushing out of his mouth. Prior, I had read somewhere that cars involved in such accidents sometimes end up catching fire due to fuel spill. Instantly, I began hitting one of the doors till it opened. I managed to crawl out. I also assisted Olumide to do same while a few good Samaritans were extending help to our driver who was also reeling and writhing in pain.

As we made to get Olumide to sit down by the roadside first, he asked for his phone and power bank. I dashed to the car to fish them out, alongside my own phone and iPad.

I noticed that Olumide was still bleeding and began to panic, even though I tried to conceal it. And from nowhere, the Almighty God immediately sent us two angels in the persons of Amaka and Chinonso. Without any prompting, they brought water for Olumide to rinse his mouth and face. We also poured some of the water on his head to calm him down.

Amid all that, I heard people screaming “rush him to the hospital, rush him to the hospital…” Sadly, minutes passed and we still couldn’t get a cab or even a Keke to assist. And the two women, as if on cue, rushed out and in a twinkle of an eye, were back with their cars, almost at the same time. A “mild argument” arose over which of the cars to use. Eventually, both agreed to accompany us and that was how we landed at one hospital behind Salvation Ministry, along Onitsha-Owerri-Port Harcourt Road. The staffers or nurses were not too nice to us as they kept asking this and that questions instead of giving us the needed swift attention. Notwithstanding, they still assisted us by administering first aid, for which I am very grateful.

Olumide was thereafter put on drips, after some injections. I was also injected, but I refused to sleep even as sleep tried to wrestle me to the bed. Olumide, meanwhile, had immediately dozed off. Minutes later, a call came in from Mr. Dotun Oladipo whom we had told to wait for us at our hotel. In fact, oblivious of what laid ahead, we had confidently and categorically told him we would be picking him up from Immaculate Hotel, Owerri in 5 minutes!

But when 5 minutes was extending to almost 30 minutes, he called again to know what the cause of delay was and that was when I relayed to him the unpleasant news of what had just happened.

I asked him to inform my younger brother, Amatus, who also flew to Owerri with us for the 18th All Nigerian Editors Conference, taking place at the Concord Hotel. As God would have it, Amatus was right there with him, so he handed the phone to him. Immediately I broke the news, Amatus proved to me how much he loves and appreciates me; he broke down immediately. I asked him to put himself together, and make his way to the hospital. I had tried his phone earlier, but the call wasn’t connecting. So, I asked him to check his phone for the address of the hospital which I sent when I couldn’t reach him.

Minutes later, he landed at the hospital, still in tears. My eyes equally became misty as I assured him that all would be well. Before eventually succumbing to the overwhelming power of the injections, I handed over to him our wallets, phones, power bank, iPad and money. According to him, barely minutes later, I started snoring. Perhaps knowing full well that we were now in safe hands.

Intermittently, however, I would open my eyes and close them. Then Messrs Dotun Oladipo and Gabriel Akinadewo arrived, after Amatus had convinced me that we needed to inform and involve the Imo State Government and above all, the leadership of Nigerian Guild of Editors.

Soon, both were activated and in no time, Mr. Eze Anaba, editor of Vanguard Newspaper and an official of the Guild, alongside Oguwike Nwachukwu, Governor Hope Uzodinma’s chief press secretary and special adviser on media arrived with an ambulance and a pilot vehicle. After settling our bills and retrieving our medical records, we were moved to Imo State Specialist Hospital, Umuguma, where we spent the next 24 hours and were accorded better attention…

(To be continued)

– Azuh Arinze is the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine and author of the bestsellers, The CEO’s Bible, Success Is Not Served A La Carte, A Taste Of Success, etc

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