WHEN eight-year-old Elijah Success left home for lesson on August 7, 2020, his parents and siblings had no premonition he would not return home the lively and healthy boy he had always been.
The Primary II pupil was trekking back home when the unexpected happened – he was hit by a fast-moving commercial motorcycle, leaving his skull smashed and his body bruised.
The incident happened at Gidandaya, around Orozo, a suburb of Abuja. He was immediately taken to Karshi Hospital, where he was referred to Federal Medical Centre, Keffi, and then to Garki General Hospital, Abuja, before finally finding respite at the National Hospital, where the head was operated upon.
The damaged part of his skull was removed during the surgery, leaving only his scalp (skin of his head) to cover half of his head. He has been without half of his skull for five months, after the surgery was conducted.
A large and deep mark cuts across his head from one end to the other. The skin on affected part of his skull shakes intermittently each time he breathes. Success looks very sombre whenever he tries to talk, a sign that he is in pain. He is eager to play with other children, but he’s restrained by his disability. One of the limbs affected by the accident was paralyzed for weeks. But, now, he can stand for a few minutes and move his hand as well.
Elijah and Alice Achala, his parents, who both hail from Oju local government area of Benue state, said they already have spent over N2.5 million on the boy’s treatment, but can no longer bear the cost, particularly now that another surgery is imminent.
His poor, distraught father, a security guard who earns N25,000 monthly, lamented that he was in debt. He said that he and his wife have borrowed a lot of money from neighbours, friends and relations, many of who are now asking for the loan repayment. He said he owed N900,000 in the course of saving the boy’s lives.
His other children could no longer go to school, and he has not paid his house rent in a year, he told The ICIR.
What further compelled Achala to cry out for public assistance over his family’s travails is that he was sacked last November by the company he had worked with as a security guard.
He said he had gone to bury his father in the village that month, and was replaced by another guard. And all his appeals to his employers fell on deaf ears, he said.
His wife corroborated his claims. Mrs Achala told The ICIR that her family lives on neighbour’s charity.
“As a mother, it’s not been easy for me at all. My husband has been sacked from his place of work. I’m only surviving through the people around me. Sometimes, they will come with ‘mudu’ (a small bowl for measuring foodstuffs) of garri (cassava flake), rice and beans. That’s how we’ve been living. There are three children with me. None of them goes to school, except the orphan that is in senior secondary school,” she explained.
According to the father, Success needs weekly physiotherapy because the accident paralyzed his arm and leg on the side of his head that was affected by the accident. So, they have been able to make the paralyzed parts function a bit, through physiotherapy; which he said his family could no longer afford.
Forty-one-year-old Achala said: “My condition is very bad now. That is why I’m calling on people everywhere for help. I don’t want to lose him. He has endured much pain, and since he is alive today, I have assurance that he will survive this. All I just need is money to do this surgery. The national hospital has kept the skull with them and asked me to look for money so they fix it back.”
Unlike many other victims of crashes on Nigerian roads, the motorcyclist who hit Success stopped and helped him to the hospital. But, he has only made N18,000 contribution to his treatment since, the boy’s father told The ICIR.
He said his family was at the hospital for over a month during the first surgery before they were released to go look for money for the second lap.
Asked by The ICIR to tell how much he needed for the operation, he said the hospital did not tell him how much it would cost him, adding that the hospital told him to pay initial sum of N200,000 naira for theatre.
Achala expressed his family’s readiness to appreciate any hospital or team of experts who will be willing to collaborate with the hospital to carry out the surgery.
“All I want is to do the surgery in a way that will bring no further indebtedness to my family and ensure the safety and good health of the boy. And, I will be happy if I could get assistance to pay the N900,000 my family owes in the course of the past treatments,” the father pleaded.
He said he owed the hospital and could no longer afford the cost of checkups. He said he is not sure if the cost of the second surgery would be more than the first.
To avoid further complications, Success has been kept at home by his parents since he was discharged by the hospital, his father told our reporter.