Eight years after he returned N18 million forgotten in his car by passengers, Taxi Driver and father of six, Mr. Imeh Usuah,received the national honour as a Member of the Federal Republic,he was also given plots of land in Abuja.
That one single act of honesty has changed his life and will no doubt inspire others to do same,reward or not. Thisday reproduced an exclusive interview they had with him back in 2012 which they titled “One Missing Hero at the National Honours Award’
Read full story below:
A dry and dusty road, decrepit house, cracked walls that played host to lizards all day long and squashy doors, his house was not hard to locate inside the community.Inside the house, free flowing mosquitoes made unbearable sound. Yes, the living room had seen better days and the rubber chairs in the living room were also ancient, but inside the house seated a national hero not known to many across the country.
On Monday, September 17, 2012, when President Goodluck Jonathan conferred national honours on deserving Nigerians, Mr. Imeh Usuah, an Abuja-based cab driver popularly known as Jaja was not recognised.
But Mr. Usuah is only a forgotten national hero who should be recognised for his act of integrity. In November 2007 Usuah improved the image of Nigeria after returning the sum of N18 million left in his car to the owner in Abuja.
�I was not nominated. I was not invited and I don’t even know those who are there,”
With a sense of pride and fulfilment, he recounted what happened in November 2007 and how the bag containing
the money was found and returned to the owner.
�It was one morning by 5.30 AM, in November, 2007, when British Airways (BA), landed at the international wing of the airport in Abuja. As usual, I positioned myself from metres away from the arrival wing waiting for passengers to come out so that I can get my customers and take them where ever they want to go inside town.
�In my waiting position I saw these two white men who came with the British airways. From distance I could observe that they were obviously tired from their look. They beckoned on me requesting for a drop at the Hilton Transcorp Hotel in Maitama area in Abuja.
�I didn’t waste time as I immediately put some of their bags into the boot of my cab and the remaining ones neatly arranged on the back seat and underneath the seats, and off I headed for the destination.
�I arrived at the hotel lounge within 45 minutes and dropped them with their luggage. I got paid N,4000 for my service and I zoomed off, but unknown to both of us there was a bag which contained this huge amount of money left behind tucked away underneath my seat.”
�I decided to take the cab for washing as my usual practice after the day’s work, and while I was removing the foot mats in a bent down position, I saw this brown suite case tucked underneath the driver’s seat. Immediately I remembered the passengers I had carried for the day and I started thinking of who really among them could have forgotten the suitcase. Instinctively I knew it was one of the many bags belonging to those chaps I took to Transcorp Hilton. Even though I didn’t open the suitcase, I sensed at that hour that it must at least contain some valuable items.
My immediate response was to inform our association chairman at that time, Mr. Alex Ekwueme Udom. I told him what happened and that I was returning the bag to the owners.”
He continued: �By the time I met these guys, the owners of the bag at the hotel, they were standing at the hotel lobby confused, dejected and frustrated. They couldn’t even recognise me as the cab driver that brought them from the airport and shockingly they didn’t know the number of taxi. But, I could recognise them.
�These people could not believe their eyes. Their confused state disappeared, and they were so happy that they went on their knees thanking me for returning the bag. They requested for my GSM numbers and in a twinkle of an eye, I disappeared from the scene,” he said.
�I did it to let people know, especially the foreigners that Nigerians are good and great people. I can go hungry for days, for as long as my integrity remains, hunger will disappear by itself.”
But, five years on, a man who showed foreigners that Nigerians are good and great people has been living a squalid life on a corner street in one of the satellite towns in Abuja, the capital city.
The lesson of a good and great Nigeria for the citizens in a
man that should be honoured for moral standard and
projection of good image of a nation is hidden away from
the people’s eyes.
Although, Usuah is not a man after gratification, one thing he will however not forget in a hurry was the way his two-bedroom apartment was demolished in Bassa village near the airport in April 2012 by the Department of Development control, an agency of Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA).
True, it was that apartment that once gave this unsung hero happiness.
�I am never a happy man seen all my life savings pulled down by the same people who failed to give us shelter,”
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