Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri: An Ode to a Nightingale

Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri: An Ode to a Nightingale 3By Valentine Uche Chukwuma 

I have met a lot of Nigerians over the last two years through social media, majority of whom are very passionate about the current state of our nation. While differences exist in politics and perspectives, these Nigerians many of whom are under 40 all love their country in their own way. I have been exposed to all kinds of Nigerians; from those with rare levels of intelligence, to those with burning passion when it comes to discourses about the issues of the day. The desire for a better nation, the commitment to fighting for a better future for our children, the ideas on how to move the nation forward, and the “courage” to contribute their own quota to advancing the national dialogue defines the characters of these Nigerians.

Courage is a rare trait. People who have dealt with me personally would tell you that I am fearless, but way too cerebral to engage in certain actions that would define “rare courage”. Cerebral not in the sense of intelligence, but in terms of always weighing consequences. If I think it’s too dangerous or not worth it, then I will not be doing it any time soon. I am not a model for courage, especially when the obvious risks outweigh the benefits. Knowing this about myself gives me a great sense of admiration and appreciation for those who have shown exemplary courage that should serve as a model for ours and future generations of Nigerians.

Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri is one of the finest Nigerians of our generation. I have tremendous respect for her, and great admiration for her courage. She should have been given a medal representing the highest civilian honor recognizing rare courage and patriotism by our Commander in Chief, as well as all kinds of journalistic awards by our media executives in appreciation for what she did.

For those who do not know what she did, let me give a brief synopsis.

This young Nigerian, at a time when people were running out of Maiduguri because of Boko Haram, and there was an information blackout because journalists were not reporting from the city, left her husband and children and departed for Maiduguri alone, accompanied only by her camera man. As I later found out, she traveled to Maiduguri by bus and by taxi because no public buses were going into the town at the time. People along the way including bus drivers told her she was crazy for going into that town. She was only able to find one taxi driver who agreed to drive her to Maiduguri. Talk about courage.

Her mission was simple. To tell the stories of victims of the Boko Haram crisis living in Maiduguri. She visited Gomari, London Chiki, Kaleri, and Budum areas of Maiduguri town and reported the perspectives of residents of those areas. One of her visits is captured here.

The courage she exhibited by going into that city to report, at a time when even the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan; Former Heads of State Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Yakubu Gowon; Governors, Senators and House of Representative members from the other 35 States of the federation; and even Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and even our famous investigative journalists had not visited that city is something worthy of admiration and commendation.

I saw one of Victoria’s video’s in Maiduguri before we became friends and remember telling myself that this woman is courageous. I would never try this even though I grew up in that city, know it like the back of my hand, understand the culture and speak the language.

Even after we became friends and spent a lot of time discussing the state of our nation and the challenges of Igbo’s in relation to our leadership, I still did not realize she was the lady in that video.

Last Friday, I was watching a Boko Haram video on Youtube and that video popped up again on the side, and of course I watched it. At that moment I realized she was the one, and immediately told her how impressed I was with her courage.

99% of those I have met on social media who profess their love for Nigeria and Nigerians including myself would never dare walk into Maiduguri to report anything happening there. On that level alone, what she did is impressive.

When you also consider the fact that this young Igbo woman who did not speak the language, had never been there before and of course did not understand the culture, went into Maiduguri without security at a time when her fellow Igbo’s and fellow Nigerian citizens were running out of that town, you can only but admire that courage.

I decided to share her story because I believe that people like this are our real heroes, and not those who come on social media to talk from morning to night about how they love Nigeria more than everyone else, without any actions to back their verbosity.

She is a hero and a model of courage, patriotism and good citizenship.

I am proud to have her as a friend and sister.

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