I Escaped Death Three Times – 80-Year-Old Retired Nigerian Accountant Tells Incredible Story

80-year-old retired accountant Pa Jimmy Orisabinueni shares his life’s journey and adventures with TOBI AWORINDE

Pa Jimmy Orisabinueni

Power Can you tell us about yourself?

My name is Jimmy Tophas Adejimi Orisabinueni.

You said you were born on July 5, 1940. How was your childhood?

I am the only child and third child of my mother. But my father had another wife. My mother was the youngest wife. He had two older sisters; both have now passed away. The last one passed away last year. He was over 80 years old.

Would you say you had a happy childhood?

In fact, I was very happy as a child because my mother was at her father’s house; I know when my father took her to his own home. But as the first child, everyone took care of me. I was happy when I was young, but at the same time, although my mother’s younger sister did not have a child, she took me in. They even called her my mother. I accompanied her to a place in the then Midwest region. I spent some time with her. But my father soon said that I should start going to school; that’s when I came back. Unfortunately for my father, and I like this, he would have asked me to go work as a fisherman, but since I was my mother’s only son, he did not say so. He said my (half) brother and I should go to school. We were more or less the same age.

So did your father like to fish?

If he was. I’m from Ilaje, where, if you had a son, you must teach him to fish. That’s why many men my age (from Ilaje) did not go to school. But my father said I had to go. I started school in Ugbonla in Ese Odo (Ogun state). My father hadn’t built his own house then, so I was with him. kabiyesi (king) of that place. the kabiyesi he was my sister’s husband. I was, more or less, like his son. I finished primary school at Ugbonla primary school and went to modern Ugbonla secondary school.

While I was in elementary school, my brother and I went to a place called Ibale during midterms. We also went with my sister’s husband, who passed away last year. The three of us went into the sea; we cast a net during the night. In the morning the waves grew so we had to go. We picked up the net and started to head home in the boat when the wave capsized the boat upside down. The three of us were separated in the water. We wanted to go around the ship, but found that the anchor had sunk and hit the bottom of the sea. Back then we were young, less than 20 years old, so we had to go into the water to get the anchor. Then we were able to go around the boat. The boat was broken in the front, until the middle, so we used our clothes to tie the boat.

Did you do all this while swimming?

Yes, we were swimming everywhere. We tied up the boat, tucked the net inside, and sailed to shore.

Weren’t you scared?

When we were young, we did it out of exuberance. But it was about six months after we learned that someone died during that time. They called that place Sumoge. And that guy was in high school. So, I didn’t take it seriously. But later, when my brother brought up the subject, I was scared and grateful that I survived.

You said you knew when your father came to take your mother home as a wife. Was that the norm at the time?

No. Unfortunately, he was young, so I don’t know the cause. But I knew when my father took her; I went with them. For some reason, I was so interested in my mother’s father. When I arrived that day, I was not comfortable. My father did not refuse. I said I had to go back (to my maternal grandparents’ house). They allowed me to return because I was interested in my mother’s sister. She took care of me when I was her daughter.

How old were you when your father took your mother?

I must have been over eight years old because I remember being baptized by UNA (United Native Africa) Church.

Why were you enrolled in Ugbonla Elementary School?

My father was a member of the Church of Cherubim and Seraphim of Zion, Ugbonla. Also, Ugbonla was part of our house, in addition to the village of Orisabinueni. In those days, there were no vehicles entering Ugbonla. But now, the vehicles have accessed through Olusegun Agagu’s regime, when he was governor of Ondo state.

What were your favorite subjects in school?

My favorite subject was arithmetic. Unfortunately, he wasn’t good at math, but he knew arithmetic. I also liked English, geography and history. He was not good at literature.

Do you remember the year you enrolled in elementary school?

I was enrolled between 1955 and 1960, during the Awolowo free primary education program (Obafemi).

Did you go to high school right after?

No! I went to Ugbonla modern high school in Ugbonla because I was sick when I got out of primary school so I couldn’t go (immediately).

What ailment did you have?

The disease has just arrived and people thought he was going to die. My skin was so pale and I couldn’t breathe comfortably. But they told me it was a sleeping sickness. In fact, if a mosquito bit me, instead of blood, water would come out of the bite. It lasted about a year. So, they gave me agbo (herbs); They didn’t take me to the hospital.

What was it like to go to school in those days?

Going to school at that time was very interesting, but what happened is that I was much older when I went to school, so people made fun of me. When we went to school, they started to like me because I was teaching them what they didn’t know. They were surprised. When we went on vacation, we were very happy. And we had a junior director. One time, he gave us a recitation and the whole class got beaten up. I just didn’t get hit. The children respected me.

Were you a beneficiary of any school feeding program at that time?

No, but during the Awolowo era, we were given free whiteboards and exercise books. They didn’t give us free food, but we didn’t pay school fees. Today, there are too many people in the classes. If you go to public schools now, in some classes, it would be around 100 with just one teacher. Back then, people weren’t willing to go to school. Before you could go to school, your hand could have passed over your head and touched your ear. But at the same time, some guys were not willing to go; today, they regret it.

What kinds of extracurricular activities did you participate in?

I did not play sports because, one day, I was playing soccer; Someone tackled me and the contact area had a huge swelling. Since then, I have not been interested. My only interest was reading. Also, I didn’t know how to play so many sports, but ‘long step and jump’ was the one I did a little bit and got some prizes.

Did you have a girlfriend at school?

I had a girlfriend; she is still alive. My wife and I exchange phone calls with her sometimes. She has her own family. Some of his children are in the United States.

Do you have any memories with your ex girlfriend?

Back then, when you had a girlfriend, you just played. There was nothing immoral; that’s why my wife knows her.

What memories do you have of your college days?

After modern school, I attended Western College of Commerce in Yaba. One day, there was a football game at the school. Instead of following my colleagues, I went to a British library in front of a popular cinema, Casino, near Panti in Yaba. I read in the library often. Around 7pm, there was a power outage, so I went home. I was living in Ebute Meta then. On the way home, I saw a tanker truck parked. Where the third continental bridge is now, there was a gas station. I was in the area when I heard a loud explosion. As it was around the civil war, we had been taught that when you hear an explosion, you must take refuge in a gutter. Everyone at Ebute Meta went out to find out what had happened. I did not go out. But the next morning, I heard some people had their heads cut off in Road Park, where the (tanker) explosion happened. That was the third time I escaped death when I was young.

How did you know you wanted to be an accountant?

I was 20 years old, and since my father was older, my mother told me to sign up. My mother did not know Lagos. I had to find a school myself. Western College of Commerce deals with business issues. They taught us accounting and that’s how I developed an interest in accounting. Not that he knew anyone who was an accountant.

When I attended the University of Lagos, it was difficult for me to follow accounting due to mathematics. I was surprised when they said, ‘Plus A equals 2A.’ He was not even aware of that. Before leaving Western College, I had my business certificate in accounting and commerce. With that, I got a job immediately I got out of school. I went to the job office in Ilupeju and the day I was sent to Vono Nigeria Ltd in Mushin was the same day I worked as an account clerk. I went to Vitafoam before then, so I didn’t spend more than three months at Vono. I said to the person who was my superior: ‘I have a request at Vitafoam.’ He said, ‘Why don’t you go there if the salary is higher?’ The salary was higher, so I went to Vitafoam.

How much was the salary?

It was around £ 8.

You worked at Dresser Nigeria Ltd….

Yes, it was an American oil services company. I left Vitafoam for another company, whose pay was not good. Then I worked at the Ministry of Health. That time, my friend, Lateef Olumide, was at Dresser, located in the Western House. We were classmates and good friends. He told me there was a vacancy at Dresser and that I should apply. So, I applied as an account assistant. It was there that I became an accountant. I used to work in Inventory (Unit) so I would travel to Warri, Port Harcourt, etc. I worked there until I retired in 1993.

Which countries have you visited?

I went to Liberia in 1988 and they gave us a transportation allowance of N100. I exchanged it for $ 200. The exchange rate was $ 2 per naira! I was crying when (the military dictator, Gen Ibrahim) Babangida declared (would be) N5 to the dollar. Little did he know it would be worse.

How did you meet your wife?

We met at Western College. I was his oldest. We decided to get married, but since he is from Ilesa, he was concerned that his mother would not approve. But I insisted; he told his mother, who accepted (my proposal). He wasn’t rich because he had just finished high school. If it weren’t for his older brother and mother, we wouldn’t have gotten married, and we’ve been married for over 40 years. I have five children, although one has passed away. I also have five grandchildren.

How do you keep fit?

I exercise indoors when I wake up. It was even when I started getting older that I was told to exercise. It’s only been three years since I started exercising.

What kind of food do you eat?

Like any kind of food. When I was young, I ate garri and guguru. But I don’t eat garri when I’m old. I have not tried garri in the last five years. They told me it contains too much starch. They even told me not to eat iyan (mashed yam), so I eat wheat, which I don’t like very much. When I was young, I didn’t drink alcohol or smoke because after trying it (cigarette) at night, in the morning, my mouth turns sour. Also, if you had a bottle of beer, you wouldn’t be able to eat anything. That’s why I refused to drink beer, in addition to being a born-again Christian.

What is your favorite food?

It used to be eba and fresh fish. But now I eat beans every day in the morning and at night. But now not as eba. I prefer fish to meat (veal). Sometimes for a month we may not have meat; what we eat is fresh fish.

What are your hobbies?

I like to read the bible and the newspapers

Source: The PUNCH