- How Jos bomb blast blighted neurosurgeon’s promising life
By Vera Wisdom-Bassey
His is the kind of story Nollywood blockbusters are made of. Except that Dr. Kehinde Valentine Cole’s tragic saga is real, as real as you can touch and feel. Brilliant and efficient, the young medical doctor was working to make a reputation for himself as a neurosurgeon, having earlier bagged a First class degree in that arm of medical field from the prestigious University of Ibadan, when suddenly the sky clouded and crashed, blurring his once promising world.
He was working as a surgeon at Jafet Hospital, Jos, Plateau State capital, when the twin bomb explosions that claimed many lives rocked the city in 2013.
Although he survived, Cole lost his sight and temporarily lost his memory due to the impact of the blasts. He consequently became a tramp, begging for a living on the streets, as he lost contact with his twin sister, Taiwo Valentina Cole, who was the only remaining member of his immediate family and link to other relatives who raised him, having lost his mother at birth and his father while he was nine years old.
Although he was temporarily rescued from the streets and offered a home by a young female student, hope of regaining his sight through miracle which brought him to Lagos was dashed when he fell into the hands of “One Chance robbers”, who cleaned him out of his meagre possessions and left stranded.
However, he has received succour from a popular Lagos-based Pentecostal Christian ministry, which has raised hope of finding a cure for his blindness.
Cole, in an encounter with Saturday Sun, casts his mind back to the fateful day that turned his fortune south. According to him, the incident occurred around 3:00pm. “I remember the first one happened at a terminus market in the morning near a teaching
hospital, while the second one happened at the hospital where I worked as a surgeon and also as the medical director.
“I came out from the surgery room at Jafet Hospital in Jos where I worked as a surgeon and was going to get my things, so that I can leave the hospital, because of the first bomb blast that happened earlier in the day. People were afraid and were trying to leave the environment for safety, but unfortunately, I didn’t make it out in one piece. Rather, I lost my sight after another blast that claimed the lives of many people as well as that of the owner of the hospital. My residence was not far from the clinic. As I came down and was about making a U-turn to my quarters, the last thing I remembered was hearing a loud sound and I lost consciousness,” he said.
When Dr. Cole regained consciousness, he discovered that he had a bloody vision, which progressively grew dark and darker. He was blind!
Following doctors’ diagnosis, it was discovered that his cornea had melted and optic nerves damaged.
He also suffered temporary memory loss (amnesia), as he could not remember who he was or anything about his past.
But hard days were ahead of him yet. “I left the hospital, having nowhere to go. I took to the streets and turned to a beggar. I was living on the streets of Jos, begging for one year. I came across some beggars too and I joined them in begging from place to place, just to get money to feed, and where to lay my head at night,” Dr. Cole recalled.
However, one day, while in the company of his fellow beggars, a young lady he called Philip Mark Comfort came and said she had noticed he was always singing. Dr. Cole replied that singing was the only thing he did to keep himself happy. As she was interested in knowing more about him, he narrated his story to her.
Moved by the story and his condition, Comfort came one day in January 2015 and took him to her home, had his bushy and unkempt hair shaved and put him up in an uncompleted building in front of her house, which, she had prepared. She also gave him mosquito nets, a blanket to protect him from the cold weather and a pillow.
Together with her mother, a teacher, the young lady, who just secured admission into the Federal College of Education Panshin in Jos, took care of Cole. Whenever, her daughter left for school, Comfort’s mother spent time chatting with Cole and when he took ill, she brought in a nurse to treat him.
“If not for Comfort, I don’t know what would have happened to me. I had no money to feed, but out of what she was given for her upkeep in school, she took care of me, we lived there together till I came down to Lagos,” the neurosurgeon said in gratitude.
But, then, he said the 200 level English student returned from school one day crying.
“When I asked her what made her so upset, she said her friends were mocking her that she was harbouring a blind man. They told her that out of all the handsome guys around, it was a blind man she was interested in.”
On April 13, this year, Cole decided to leave Jos and come down to meet a popular Lagos -based preacher, whose messages, he said, he had been listening to on radio, to see if he could be healed through a miracle.
He told Comfort, who borrowed him N1,500 for his fare and accompanied him to the Young Shall Grow Park, where she further went around soliciting monetary assistance for him to supplement the fare. Seeing this, one of the managers of the transport company offered Cole a free seat in the bus and even paid for his food.
On arriving Lagos, he alighted at Maza Maza motor park and the bus conductor helped to put him in another bus heading for The Lord’s Chosen Church headquarters at Ijesha bus stop, the address he gave as his destination.
“The conductor handed me over to two guys and I entered their bus,” Dr. Cole said. However, he was in for a shocker. “The journey lasted for almost an hour and we stopped, I alighted from the bus and one of them snatched my bag. It was then it dawned on me that they didn’t want to help, but only to rob me. I was hearing waves of the beach. Instead of taking me to The Lord’s Chosen Church in Ijesha, they took me to the beach at Maroko,” the blind man said.
Confused, hungry and tired, Dr. Cole kept asking passersby for help. At last a man stopped and asked him what the problem was. He narrated his story to him and the fellow promised to take him to the church the next day.
Although, after his last experience with the robbers, he was scared to trust strangers, he followed the fellow to his home at Ghetto, a Hausa community in Maroko.
“The next morning, we boarded a bus to Costain and when we got to the bus-stop, he said he cannot proceed because some customers were coming to see him, so, he put me in another bus heading for Ijesha,” said Dr. Cole.
When he got to the church, he was welcomed by a young man, who took him to the altar, where according to him, he received a glint that his sight could be restored.
His words: “While I was still rolling on the altar, a spark of light flashed. I did not take it serious. I tried to lift my head and the first thing I saw were three bulbs in one place. I could see rays of light by the window. I was ecstatic that I could see light again for first time in four years. I started shouting, I can see, I can see.”
His friend, Comfort, was informed of the development on phone. But, she could not believe it until she came down to Lagos and saw Cole, who was discovered to be suffering from eye cataract.
Cole, who said he was unaware he had the eye condition, believes God will heal him permanently.
He seeks help to enable him medically treat the ailment. He also said he needed a job to enable him take care of himself.
Dr. Cole is calling on well-meaning Nigerians to assist him.