By OFFOR CALLISTUS, Abuja –
Former Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture, Chief Okeifufe Frank Nweke Jnr, has reminisced the nostalgic moment he escaped being a victim of a plane crash that occured in 2004.
Chief Nweke Jrn disclosed this on Tuesday during the public presentation of Dr. Omoniyi Ibietan’s book on Cyber Politics, held in Abuja.
*HOW IT HAPPENED?*
“I want to appreciate Mr. Azubuike Ishiekwene, Editor-in-Chief of Leadership Newspaper and his dear wife in absentia for a very emotional reason that I’m standing here today.
“In 2004, precisely 19 years from today, by the grace of God but through the instrument of this man [Azubuike] sitting here and his dear wife.
“The only reason I’m alive today, so far was because some times in 2004, I was visiting Lagos and I had an appointment with Azubuike. That appointment was for Saturday because I believed that I’ll be rounding up my visit to Lagos on Sunday the following day. So, I left my hotel in Lagos and went to his (Azubuike’s) house to keep to that appointment but not on the time we agreed. I went earlier and I got there but he (Azubuike) was not there.
“And I said: “bros, I dey your house oh!!! And he replied: “You have started. This wasn’t the time we agreed. There’s no way I could be home now because I wasn’t expecting you at this time”.
“So I had to leave his home and go to visit another friend of mine nearby, who unfortunately has passed on.
*THE TURN OF EVENT*
“I eventually returned when he called me and I said: “I’m now home.” When I got there, I said: “bros, I dey go airport oh!!! And he replied: “That was not what we discussed. Madam has prepared good food for you.
I said: ” O boy, please…. just help me convince her”… And Azuk replied: “If I put hand inside this matter, when you leave, everything will be on my head. So if you manage to convince her, I don’t have much use for you, you can be going.
“I tried in vain to convince his wife that I had to catch my flight.
“This Omoniyi (NCC’s Head of Media Relations) sitting here and a couple of other members of staff were already at the airport waiting for me. Because of my visit, she has carefully asked me what I could like to have and I said I could love to eat Amala. And she prepared it with other assorted things.
“She said: “Oga, I have made what you requested and I even told my neighbors that the Minister is coming to visit us. You have to eat this food, I won’t be happy if you don’t eat it.”
“In those days, the traffic was very bad…this was in 2004 and if you want to make any flight in Lagos, you needed to actually set out early. …….and to cut the story short, she convinced me and I stayed back. And she said: “Even the people at Lagos airport, don’t they eat Amala? Why don’t they come? And they all came to Azubuike’s house. We finished eating and drinking and we went back to our hotel to check in because we had already checked out.
“It was around 9 o’clock in the night. At first, I thought I was dreaming, because I was hearing this massive bang on the door of my hotel room and I was told that the President (Chief Olusegun Obasanjo) was trying to reach me at that time and he said I must call him immediately.
*HOW I GOT TO KNOW ABOUT THE PLANE CRASH*
“The Amala I ate had knocked me off sleeping. When I got up, I called the president and he said: “Frank, where are you? And I said: “I’m in Lagos,” and he said to me: “There has been a plane crash…and I was told you were on that flight.”
“The reason why I was not on the plane was because his (Azubuike’s) wife insisted that I should eat Amala…..And since then, we haven’t seen each other in a while..but I remembered all the time.
“I paid my respect to him and his wife because they are the instrument God used in saving my life and so, well, God saves! Amala saves too... So Azu….it’s always good to see you,” he said, smiling.