…His bride, whose wedding dress he had gone to buy, also dumped him
By Molly Kilete
His ambition when he enlisted in the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) was to rise to the pinnacle of his career. He had high hopes and dreams to excel in the force, after his training at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) and commissioned as an officer in September, 2007. He was then posted to Makurdi, Benue State where he served for about three months before being transferred to Abuja.
For young Dauda Philip Midala, a graduate of Medical Laboratory Science from the University of Maiduguri and an indigene of Adamawa State, life as an officer went on smoothly in Abuja until he began to make plans to get married.
His dream of rising to the peak of his career was shattered after an accident that resulted in a spinal cord injury. He had travelled to Kano along with his elder sister to buy wedding clothes for his bride- to -be and was on his way back to Abuja, when the fatal accident occurred.
He was rushed to the Aminu Kano Specialist Hospital, which later moved him to Dala Hospital where it was discovered that he had a spinal cord injury. Ironically, the woman he had gone to shop for abandoned him six months later, when she realised that he will live on wheelchair for the rest of his life.
Luckily, upon his discharge from the hospital, the NAF did not abandon him as he was allowed to continue with his job as a laboratory scientist and head of the unit at the 108, NAF hospital and as the Officer Commanding. He served in the hospital until 2014, when he was retired from service on medical ground. But Midala did not give up after his retirement from service as he quickly set up a private medical laboratory centre in Kuje area of Abuja, with about six employees on his payroll.
In this interview with Abuja Metro, Philip, who has long accepted his fate, speaks about his life on wheelchair.
Life in the Air Force
My life in the NAF was very interesting and I wished that It could have been so for the rest of my life, for me to serve in my nation in the NAF as a Medical Laboratory Scientist. But, unfortunately that dream was cut short.
I enlisted into the force on March 25, 2007 and passed out from the NDA on September 29, 2007. I was posted to the NAF command in Makurdi, Benue State, where I served before I was posted to Abuja be head the NAF Hospital which is now known as 108 NAF Hospital, as a Medical Laboratory scientist and the Officer Commanding.
I was in that office up till 2014, before I was retired based on medical condition due to an accident I had about seven years ago that affected my spine.
I really thank God for sparing my life and I thank the NAF for taking care of me all this while after the accident. They have been like brother, family and very helpful to me and I feel happy that all through my accident and in my condition, they did not abandon me in my situation. They kept me in the service up till the time of my retirement in December 2014. I know that God is going to do great things in the remaining life that he has given to me.
Coping with life outside NAF.
God has been very good to me because for now, I have been able to open a diagnostic centre which is located at Kuje Area Council, named Phil Med Diagnostic Centre, where I carried my medical knowledge at the NAF, to continue as a laboratory scientist and to serve humanity and the populace of Kuje Area Council.
I feel happy and I thank God for seeing me through in the business so far. I know that with time, everything would be okay because having been on a wheelchair for so long has never made me to one day ask God,’ why me in this situation?’.
I was able to think outside the box because I am educated and I have to utilize my knowledge that I acquired in school. That is why, I was able to move on and establishthe diagnostic centre at Kuje.
Right now, I am an employer of labour with six staff working for me as I speak to you. And I feel happy that these people depend on me to survive despite the fact that I am on wheelchair. So, to cut a long story short, my challenges did not make me to think that this is the end of the road for me. If anything, my challenges have even made me to work harder, struggle to survive and think the way I never thought before and I give God the glory for everything.
How the accident happened
Actually, the accident occurred on September 13, 2008 on my way to Kano. I was preparing for my wedding, so I travelled to Kano to get some materials for my bride at the time. So, on my way back, about 40 kilometres drive from Kano State, I had an accident. I ran into a stationary trailer which was parked on the expressway. I had thought that the trailer was moving, I did not know that it parked and I was moving at a moderate speed between 60 and 80 kilometres per hour. I was with my elder sister in the car when we ran into the parked trailer.
I was rushed to the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital and from there to Dala. That was where it was discovered that I have a spinal cord injury which has paralysed my hands and legs. That is why I am on wheelchair.
My bride abandoned me
She decided to leave me without any reason because what she gave as her reason for quitting the relationship was baseless. It was just a little misunderstanding and she decided to call it quit and I was trying to find out what really happened. I tried many times to reconcile, but it became too difficult for me so I had to accept my fate and move on. That was just about six months after, the accident happened while we were planning for the wedding.
My advice to people in my situation
Well, it is all about the state of the mind of the individual because right from the day that I discovered that I had a spinal cord injury (being a medical personnel I know what it takes for someone to have such injury), I made up my mind that I was not going to be discouraged and lose hope despite the fact that I am in the military where regiment is needed in one way or the other. At least 70 per cent of the military day- to- day activities is about regiment, but that did not deter me carrying out my duty as the head of the department where I worked. I was able to head that department and trained soldiers and many other people. My condition did not make me come to work late even for one day, I was not feeling lazy about work neither did I feel I am not being appreciated. I had told myself that that I should go and serve my country, soldiers and people in general and members of the community that usually attend our hospital for their medical investigation.
So, I feel happy and I am encouraging those that found themselves in one challenge or the other not to give up. They should not think that the end has come for them. If it is an educated person, he should think of what to do. The fact that my hands and legs are paralysed did not stop me from working, even to sign some of my official documents. I was able to do that to make myself happy. So, I want to encourage those who may be in my condition or even worse, that has to do with physical disability, not to be deterred and not to feel lonely. There is hope for the hopeless.
Things I used to do that I can no longer do
Some of the things I loved doing the most were playing badminton and, driving. I will say I am a sportsman and was a national player in badminton. I played badminton to the national level. In fact, the day I gave out my racket to somebody since I can no longer play the game, I cried my hearts out in my room. And since them, each time I see people play badminton, I just remember the time that I used to play and the last time I played the game was in August, 2008. So, it is one of the things that really make me sad. The other thing is that I am the kind of person who would not wait for anybody to do things for me. I do everything by myself and before I will ask you for assistance in terms of strength, it is likely that I am not feeling well. But now, because of my present condition, I have to understand that we live for one another and as it has got to that stage, that 95 per cent of my life now depends on somebody. I cannot move my legs, I cannot walk, I cannot do many things that I used to do before the accident. So, sometimes, it is frustrating when you begin to think about all these things. But, I keep moving; I have refused to give up.
My friends did not abandon me
My friends, brothers and sisters have always been there for me and I want to thank them for that. And I thank God for being good to me by having them around me. They are the ones that have kept me this far and keep me moving because despite my condition, I want to say that I have become the breadwinner in my family. I make everybody happy because they too make me happy. So, I try my best to do the little I can to sponsor their education and support them in every way possible. I do so many things for them that they do not believe I am the one doing it despite my present condition.
The same thing for my friends. My friends still visit me from Kaduna, Lagos, Maiduguri, Yola, and from all over the country. They have not stopped visiting me to see how I am doing and I am really very happy with them and pray for God to continue to strengthen our relationship.
My training at NDA
It was very hectic and very interesting and I must say that, that is where I draw my strength from. It is a place where so many activities happen at the same time. It is a place where there is no pain, no gain; because when there is no pain in you, the gain in you will not come out. So, it is a place where you gather experience that will last you a lifetime and such experience has moulded me and made me tougher and able to adjust to the situation that I now find myself. That is what is helping me today that I do not even feel that I have been living on a wheelchair for seven years now.
How patients react when they see me on wheelchair
Majority of the patients that visit see me usually express shock to find that the man they are coming to consult is on a wheelchair. It did not just start here in my private practice. Even while I was still in the NAF, some senior officers when they come for their medical examination, if they want to travel abroad or go for UN operation and courses, usually express shock to see me because I will be the one to sign their medical forms. Some are proud to see me doing my job very well and that really made me happy and kept me going. But now that I am in the civil populace, a lot of people express shock openly seeing me consulting and treating people. There was a day a man saw me moving on the streets of Kuje and came down from the bike and offered me N50. I told him I am not a beggar. But at that point, I started asking myself certain questions – if really I looked like a beggar despite the way I dressed and kind of motorized wheelchair that I use. That experience made me understand the impression people have of people with disability.
Some patients purposely come to my lab just to see how I talk, consult and do my job on wheelchair and when they come they do not get disappointed and it really makes me happy that I am doing well in private practice.
Making my patients happy
One thing I do is make my patients happy because many of them come with very depressing issues like fertility and deadly diseases, but I take my time to counsel them and they will now come to realize that if a man on wheelchair could say these soothing words to them, then there is hope. I use myself as an example, telling them how I became paralysed and I advise them not to give up or visit herbalists and spiritualists for solution, but look up to God and at the end of the day, they are happy and I am happy too.
Any plan for marriage?
Yes, I need a wife, not a wife per se; but I need a woman that will love me the way I am. Then I need a woman that will encourage me in times of my depression in life. That is the kind of woman that I need because it is biblical as a Christian that you need to have a helper. So, I need a helper, a woman that will help me; a woman that will feel my pains even when I am silent. She will feel the pain before I will open my mouth. That is the kind of woman that I am looking for.
What turns you off?
If I ask somebody to do something for me and he does it anyhow or doing it as if I am disturbing him, it really puts me off and makes me begin to feel that if not for my condition, you will not treat me this way. I have made up my mind that I will never ask God, “why me?’ and I have always lived with that belief. So, whenever people treat me like that, I just conclude that is how God wants it to happen.
Things that make me happy
Being happy is one thing that I have conditioned my mind to. Each moment I wake up, I say my prayers and think of how to keep my life moving and sometimes, if I feel lonely, I will just call my friends and we go out to gardens and parks and even shopping and other unique places to relax. Such things make me happy because I feel I can also do what others are doing. I do not give room for boredom to take over me.