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I Can’t Believe My Husband is Dead

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Bola Ayodele, widow of the late Professor Jerome Taula Ayodele who was killed in the BUK, speaks to Newswatch on the last moment of the deceased. Excerpts:

Newswatch: For how long have you been married to your late husband?

We got married in 1975 and had three boys and one girl. Two of them are in Chicago in the United States, while two are in Lagos.


Newswatch: Are they all graduates?

Bola: They are all graduates and Masters degree holders.


Newswatch: What do you do for a living?

Bola: Well I was working in an insurance company and retired in 2010.


Newswatch: How would you describe the moments you shared with your late husband?

Bola: Definitely, the University salary was very poor then, so we started poultry, in fact, we trained our children from poultry income. He was a very caring father, he trained his children very well, cared for them and he loved his children. He loved his family; in fact, we have never left ourselves more than 10 days. Even if he travelled to Abuja, usually he wanted to come back that same day to meet his family.


Newswatch: Was there any time both of you had problems or challenges?

Bola: Well there is no marriage without challenges, but we understood ourselves. If we had been together for about 37 years, definitely it shows we understood each other. Even you and your child quarrel, don’t you? Not to talk of somebody that both of you are from different backgrounds.


Newswatch: How would you describe him as a lecturer?

Bola: He was a workaholic. In fact, he would do his job and even neglect his family. When it was time for him to go for lecture you wouldn’t stop him, nothing would stop him. He was always at work; even on a Sunday my husband would go to work.


Newswatch: What happened on that fateful Sunday?

Bola: In fact, Mass was to start 8 o’clock. The next thing after the sign of the cross, we started hearing gun shots from behind. Before you know it, the gun shot was heard more and more and everybody started running out. I was inside, I lay down. In fact I was almost the last person on the ground floor, so I now went out. As I rushed out, I saw a gunman in front of me, so I lay flat on the ground. I now saw a boy calling him from somewhere nearby and that diverted his attention. Luckily for me, I ran and entered one security post. So, I was there until the security agents came.


Newswatch: Did you attend the service together?

Bola: Yes we went to church together on that Sunday. We were at the same place. I was in the choir stand and that’s why we didn’t sit together.


Newswatch: How did you know he was dead?

Bola: It was when I came out of hiding that one man saw me and said Ah, your daddy is down there on the ground over there. So by the time I rushed to meet him, he was dead. But as I touched him, I felt his pulse was still okay and I felt he was in a coma. I quickly rushed him to Armed Forces Specialist Hospital with the help of somebody I don’t know but who provided his bus. S,o on getting to the hospital, the doctors said he was unable to make it. I called him, tapped him, he said nothing. He didn’t respond.


Newswatch: Did he ever tell you anything that indicated that he was going to die before that day?

Bola: Even on that Sunday, I gave him breakfast because usually I go to church 30 minutes before him because of choir practice. I left him inside the living rooms. Even in the church, I didn’t see him until after the attack and I only saw his dead body. That was the last discussion I had with him. We never knew it was going to happen, though we had been praying because they have attempted to attack churches in the past. So, we have been conscious of it, but we never thought that it was going to happen on that day.


Newswatch: Can you remember some of the happy moments which you shared with him?

Bola: Many of them. I celebrated my birthday on the 23rd of April and he even gave me money as my birthday present. He hugged me and wished me happy birthday and many more of it. That is the last one that is so current. Like when my first son wedded in Chicago, he was very happy even though I couldn’t go because the American embassy refused to give me visa.


Newswatch: How did you feel when the doctors confirmed him dead?

Bola: My brother, this is somebody I have lived with for 37 years. In fact now, it is still like a dream. It got to a stage that I started telling people that he was in coma and people started praying for me. Even in the village, they were expecting that he would come back to life.


Newswatch: How would you react to the efforts of government to curb Boko Haram?

Bola: First and foremost, there is no peace in Nigeria. To me, whatever anybody must have done to me, I leave it to God. Let God judge, I have said God forgive them, my prayer for them is repentance. Let there be peace in this country between both Muslims and Christians. Because some people are saying it’s religious, but I cannot understand because no religion will ask somebody to go and kill somebody who has blood like you. There is no security in Nigeria because we don’t have laws, we don’t love ourselves. In the past, on this campus here, you didn’t ask somebody before you eat his or her food, but now people are hiding from others. Something bad will happen to you and your neighbour will not even come out to say sorry to you. There is no law which says you should attack somebody where they are worshipping.


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