Busari Olawale Peter: When Nigeria Happens to You

By: Deji Yesufu

The number one reason why the number of deaths to Coronavirus was that astronomical in the Western World was because of the mass of elderly individuals that populate that part of the world. The civilized world has so much developed their medicine that the diseases that kill people quite easily in the past, do not do so anymore today. With COVID, however, it was a new terrain and the most vulnerable were the older people. In 2012, I was in Tunisia for an official training in the use of radiotherapy machines. Tunisia, which is not a first world nation and which still grapples with national challenges like Nigeria, was boasting of 80% recovery rate in breast cancer treatment and 85% for prostrate cancer. I’ll not bother to tell you the Nigerian statistics. Sufficient to say that they are at an abysmal level.

One day in 2015, my family and I had just arrived from Church and it had rained. I opened the gate, parked the car and returned to close it. The moment the two faces of the gate touched it each other, I was electrocuted. The gate held me for about three seconds – something that looked like an eternity. I gave out a hefty yell and by some stroke of luck and divine intervention, the gate let go of me. Apparently there had been poor conducting of the wires that brought power to the light bulbs on the gate. We had rented the house but didn’t realize that years of wear and tear had exposed some of the wires, and even though we were not using them as of that time, one of them had contacted the gate and brought about my shock. How I didn’t die that afternoon I cannot say. When I told someone the story, a friend residing in England, he said that Nigeria was a country where people die very easily.

That is what happened on Friday, 12th August, 2022. Busari Olawale Peter, we all fondly call him Pastor Busari, arrived at his POS business office at Apata, Ibadan. He arrived early at the shop as usual and was just about dropping his bag when two young men on motorcycle approached his shop. One of them brought out a gun and pointed it at him. The other one went to the money bag and helped himself to the cash there. Then they demanded he handed over a bag that contained his food. Pastor Busari quietly obeyed them. But just as they were leaving, he told them that they will be caught. Out of anger, the one with the gun shot our dear friend – point blank. And they sped off. By the time the good man was taken to the hospital, he was already dead. The story was reported by The Cable today. Nigeria happened to this dear man of God and we are here reporting it – until the next tragic event occurs again.

I never met Pastor Busari but our interactions on our Facebook community, appeared as if we knew each other from birth. Busari was a Christian – actually a convert from Islam, being a native of the heavily Islamic town of Ede, Osun State. One day in 2016, I stepped out of Kunle Ara Pharmacy, opposite UCH, and I saw a woman lying down helplessly in the just constructed gutters. I didn’t know what to do – so I shared the story on Facebook. The only person who contacted me privately on the story, showing willingness to help the lady, was Pastor Busari. I gave him all the information he needed and he headed straight to Mokola from his Apata base. The following day I called him to know how it all went. He said people from Vine Branch Church had seen my story and they had stepped in to save the lady. That was Pastor Busari. I will learn later that he often uses his lean income, he was not rich at all, to help widows and orphans. This is the man that Nigeria has happened to and Facebook is filled with grief stricken people – lamenting his passing.

What actually inspired this essay was not Busari’s death. I knew I would eventually come around to writing about this man. What gave me the final nudge to write was this piece by David Hundeyin, which he titled “When Nigeria Happens, Nothing will Protect You”. In it, Hundeyin told the story of how he developed a passion to see a better Nigeria. Nigeria happened to him. His millionaire father died helplessly in 2016, following a mild stroke. The ambulance that was supposed to convey him to the hospital didn’t make it to the house until a good two hours after they were contacted. His father had built a mansion, well over half a billion naira in worth. He had his own generating set to provide electricity; a functional borehole and security. But when Nigeria will happen to him, an ambulance that was meant to save his life couldn’t come early enough because they didn’t have fuel in it. The man was 66 years old.

It is stories like those of Busari that makes you wonder what you are doing in this country. I however often have to remind myself that God has been gracious enough to put me in a nation that is not, at present, at full fledge war. The country is not a failed state – yet. Second, Nigeria has given me a lot. When I think about how much people pay for tertiary education in other climes and I realize that I may not have spent up to N20,000 for tuition for my six years in the University, until conclusion in 2001, I realize that I have a duty to help salvage this country. Lastly, Nigeria for me is ministry. My calling is to first present a gospel to my country men about the saving message of Jesus Christ and then to help contribute to the development of this country. It is very clear to me that while Nigeria has her challenges, the countries we seek to flee to have theirs also.

In March 1967, Col. Emeka Ojukwu released soldiers that had been incarcerated in Eastern Nigeria. This was in fulfilment of an agreement reached at Aburi, Ghana, that since soldiers that carried out the July 29th, 1966 coup were still in government, soldiers incarcerated for the January 15th coup should be released also. Only Ojukwu followed through with that decision. One of those released by Ojukwu was Lt. Col. Victor Banjo. Banjo was Ojukwu’s good friend and being an elite graduate like Ojukwu, they appeared to understand each other well. Banjo went to stay with Ojukwu at the Enugu government house and was there until Ojukwu declared secession from Nigeria in May 1967 – an action that prompted Banjo leaving the government house in protest.

Sometimes later in March of 1967, Col. Banjo’s family flew to see their father in Enugu. They had not seen him since his arrest in January 17 the previous year. Of course they were so happy to see him. However there was an unresolved issue. Banjo’s wife asked him to come with them back to Lagos so they could together leave the country. Banjo refused. Banjo explained that he was certain that Nigeria was heading for war. He told his wife to take the children with her to her home country of Sierra Leone and live with her Dad there until the war was over. He told his dear wife that Nigeria needed him. I can understand Banjo’s thinking: everything that he had become, up to that point, was via the investment of Nigeria in him. He was a trained soldier and he was not going to be leaving this country at her time of greatest need. Banjo’s eldest son, in his tribute to his father, published on my Facebook page in 2017, said he can still remember how his mother wept uncontrollably. He was seven. Another of his sibling told me, in a private conversation with me, said that she felt that what was propelling her father then was unbridled courage. I think otherwise. When a nation is in trouble, it is men that rise to the occasion of saving it. That is what Victor Banjo did, even though it will cost him his life later that year in September.

So, I tell myself: Nigeria is not at war. We are only warring bad leadership and a people who have lost faith in the country. In the middle of the Nigerian Civil War, there were missionary activities going on in Eastern Nigeria. Why will I now flee Nigeria because of minor insecurities? We die here!

Let me end my essay with a tribute to Pastor Busari: you lived well and you died well. We wish you stayed with us longer but God knows better. Till we see at the feet of our Lord Jesus Christ, may God bless your memories in the heart of all those you helped. May God keep your wife and daughter, and may we see the Nigeria of our dreams. Rest well.

Posted by Deji Yesufu

One Comment

  1. So sad. May God rest his soul,bless his memory and keep all he left behind.


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