In a wheelchair where he is confined after suffering stroke inside church while trying to pay his tithe, Olu Odeyemi, a Professor of Microbiology from the Obafemi Awolowo University is full of gratitude to God “for saving my life and not making my beautiful wife a widow.”
“I thank God for showing me mercy,” Professor Odeyemi says, as he reflects on his life’s journey and the incident that has changed his lifestyle, made him sedentary but full of hope, optimism and joie de vivre. He was 77 on Thursday and says: “I could have died. I know many of my colleagues who had stroke and never survived. I consider myself extremely lucky.”
So, how did he come about having stroke in the church? He narrates:
“The year was 2019. I can’t remember the exact date. I had travelled to Abuja for a meeting with the Vice President of Nigeria Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN). We have an N.G.O. to which I and about ten professors belong. The NGO. belongs to the Vice President and his wife. On that week, we had gotten to Abuja for a meeting at the VP’s office. We went by public transport and the roads were bad. So the journey itself was troublesome. The meeting ended on a Friday, so the following Saturday, we started the journey back to Osun State also in a public transport which was very discomforting for me. We could not even get air ticket to come by air.I was already too tired.
“On Saturday evening, we came back. And first thing Sunday morning, I dressed up to go to my church. Usually, I don’t miss church. At the conclusion of the service, we were to go and donate our tithes in front of the congregation. As I was putting my tithe inside the tithe box, I went down with the tithe enclosed in an envelope. It took one Reverend Sister there to take the envelope from my hand and put it in the box. The priests picked me up, took me to a private hospital. All through, I didn’t even know anything. They tried to give me first aid and after that I was taken to Wesley Guild Hospital, Ilesha. From there, I was taken to OAU. Teaching Hospital in Ile-Ife. From there, I was referred to First Cardiology Hospital in Lagos. They confirmed it was stroke and they tried to explain what led to it. The doctors thought I had overworked myself. That was the reason I had stroke. They are right. Since my early age, I have believed in hard work. Hard work to me is scriptural. The Bible says: “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.” To make it in life, you have to work hard so that you will have enough to give to other people. Hard work is an essential part of Christianity.
“When they finished treating me at the cardiology hospital, I started physiotherapy in a nearby Wellpath Physiotherapy, Lekki. The physiotherapy helped me. I am still on physiotherapy. The physiotherapist comes to my house three times in a week.
LIFE IN A WHEELCHAIR
“Life in a wheelchair is very terrible. It is the worst thing you will not wish for your enemy. You cannot dream, not to talk of actualising your dream. It is a very bad, depressing experience. I later learnt it is very common in Nigeria to have stroke. But not much has been written about it either in the media, medical books and journals. It’s such a shame. Stroke is also an old-age disease.
“In my present situation, I feel bad, particularly when I remember my students who I have been teaching to imbibe diligence. I have been training them to work hard if they want to excel. But now, I feel bad to say they should not work hard. This is an irony. For working hard, I am paying the price of hard work. But still, I know that this country cannot develop without hard work. In all facets of life, Nigerians need to work hard to solve our problems. I am paying the price of hard work but God still has hope in me. Because I am still bubbling with ideas. I still have a lot of things I want to do for people, for friends, for family, for community, for church, for Nigeria and the world at large.
“I have a farm I am unable to supervise effectively. I have a research outfit which I started after I returned from the U.S. by converting waste to gas, which is called biogas. And I was to follow up by generating gas so that people can come and buy and use it for their cooking in this era when gas is so expensive. But then, this stroke happened. We have the technology for converting waste to gas for Nigerians to use and which is far cheaper. But now I cannot do it. I am still praying to God to give me back my health so that I will continue what I started.
“I used to travel often. Almost every month, I travelled abroad. But now, I have not been able to. In my state, I still continue to write my books. I have been able to write almost ten books since I had stroke. I use the laptop, I use my hand, I use my brain, I use everything at my disposal.
“It’s so unfortunate that Nigeria has become a dangerous place. Nigeria is not a good place to live in. No electricity, no good medical facility, no security, the education system is not good enough.
Yeah, it is true that at secondary school, I was nicknamed Dangerous. The name was given to me by my Mathematics teachers in secondary school. I used to study well ahead of my colleagues and even ahead of the teacher. If I get hold of the textbook the teacher uses in teaching us, I will study the exercises beyond the areas he was taking us. When he is teaching us, I will interject some of the things I know that he has not taught us. So the teacher told the class one day that my system of learning is dangerous. And since that day, my classmates started calling me Dangerous.
“You ask me about my preferred presidential candidates for the forthcoming elections. I have no preferred candidate. I pray to God to give us the best among the candidates. Because what we are looking at as human beings is not what God is looking at.”