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He is simply called Ogbanago, which literally means focused, forward looking and epitome of integrity. Although, his parents call him Ibrahim, he decided to opt for his grandfather’ s name Ogbanago. He has lived to relive the name in all facets of his life. And the opportunity came either to make money or to look into the future with his name intake. Ogbanago chose the latter and that singular decision has made him both local and international figure, especially on intergrity. Kogi State correspondent ATABOR JULIUS spotted him in Lokoja and spoke with the man who returned a missing $10,000 (N3.6m] to its owner recently. Excerpts.
Can you tell us about your self, and how you came to be celebrated over the $10,000 you returned to the owner?
“My name is Ogbanago Ibrahim, I’m an Igala by tribe , from Olamaboro Local Government Area of Kogi state. My parents are Muslims. I attended to Agaliga Comprehensive primary school. I later proceeded to Muslim College and Kogi State College of Education Ankpa.
‘My father is a disciplinarian, a retired soldier, and you know what it is to be a soldier. Soldiers are discipline personified. Am also a good Muslim, to be modest. I’m from a disciplined family. My great grand father’s name was Ogbanago, which is an Igala name. My father’s name is Ibrahim. I chose to bear Ogbanago and I think what even happened that day was a translation of the name, which means focused, forwarding looking person.
After my graduation, with futile attempts to get a job in the state, I proceeded to Lagos in search of green pastures. But before I left the village, my father warned me of three key things. One, he said, Ogbanago Ibrahim, as you are going to Lagos, you should stay away from what belongs to others and secondly, I should stay away from married women and thirdly not to witness falsely. These were the warnings my father gave me and ever since , I have been observing them , things have been working for me.
‘While in Lagos I secured a job with Techno Crime Security Company. I was posted to UBA, Oba Akran branch, Ikeja, Lagos. There something remarkable happened that has shaped my life since then.
As a security man and while at my duty post at Oba Akran branch of UBA, I found $10,000 close to the gate. I was on afternoon duty around 1pm. And this was in 2016. I found the money on my way from the banking hall. None of my colleagues was there; it was close to the main gate of the bank. To my surprised, it was a money, not just any money, but America dollars. After a little while, within myself I had lots of thoughts running through my mind.
However, as a good Muslim, the best choice was for me to return it to the branch operation manager, one Madam Fumi. When, I returned the money to her she was surprised, asking where I picked the money from and I said , I picked it from the gate. She said Ogbanago , is this not money? and I said yes it is money. She said I could go, and after some few minutes, the owner of the money came to the bank crying for the money.
‘The owner of the money wasn’t a foreigner, but a Nigerian. An Igbo man. He said that, he actually collected the money from the counter, but could not identify the place he lost the money. Immediately, he rushed into the bank the Operation Manager called his attention that a security man at the gate had found the money and had returned it to us here. The owner of the money was filled with surprises that somebody will found dollars of this amount and still return it.
Immediately you picked the money what specific thought came to your mind?
A lot of people have asked me this question. I had an interview with Sahara Reporters, on this and I told them the same thing I’m going to tell you. I have had an encounter with many people, but the one I have with a lady that has changed my world view about life remains ever green. There is this lady who works as a cleaner at the Airport, who picked lost money and returned it. So, from that moment I began to tell people that this is the kind of thing I would like doing, and they were like surprised, that picking money and returning it to the owner could be someone’s happiness. The man who lost the dollars was a messenger with a company. He pleaded with us not to make it public, so as to save his job, because, they will charge him for carelessness. He started crying, saying my brother I have nothing to give you, I am just a messenger. The money does not belong to me. The man said he has three children in the University and the moment anything happened to his work his children would be seriously affected.
I told him that I don’t need anything from him and only the person I need things from is Almighty God.
What of the Management of the Bank, what did they do for you?
They have done a lot for me.
How has your life been like since you returned the money?
Actually, it was a surprise thing, the first person that pull a call to me was the late Ejeh of Ankpa HRH Yakubu Ahmodu. His call was an honour which I cherish much. The incident has brought me in contact with people I least expected to meet in my life time. I equally received commendation from his royal majesty, HRM Micheal Idakwo Ameh Oboni , the Atta Igala.followed by who is who in Igala kingdom. The event was held at Transcorp Hilton Hotels Abuja to honour me. It was a memorable event that I was honoured in an event that Atah Igala was present. I must commend the Arise Igala magazine who were the first to publish my action. The roll call is endless, even the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu , Tony Elumelu , the Yoruba community at Oshodi Lagos, the place I reside were part of the retinue of persons who honoured and celebrated me.
One of the frontline Igala groups, Ufedo Foundation was not left out. The National Association of Nigeria students.( NANS) Kogi chapter equally paid respect to my exploit. My joy knows no bound that Ukomu Igala, the voice of Igala Kingdom is honouring me , and I consider it the greatest thing that has happened to me .
Even, while all these awards were being bestowed on me , my constituency, that is, the youth of my constituency, Omala /OLamaboro/ Ankpa federal Constituency are prodding me to represent them at the National Assembly come 2019. They are very serious about it; they are pushing, and they have resolved that if it is money , they are ready . They said the constituency needs somebody who will go there and return whatever belongs to them.
It seems all these honours bestowed on you came from NGOs and individuals, what of your state government and the federal government?
I have not even received a call from them.
Are you fulfilled with this singular act of yours?
I’m fulfilled and why I said , I’m fulfilled is that , I didn’t return the money for any gratification. I never did it because, if it were to be money, it is the same I picked and returned, so I never had it in mind that something would come out of my action. It was not in my thought.
Your message, if any to Nigerian youths?
On my social media wall and other media, I think , I have been talking to our youth, that life is not all about money. It is more about integrity. It is about who you are. It is about a legacy you are going to leave behind. Actually our youths should be constantly enlightened to know that life is not all about material acquisitions. Life is about your name and what people would say about you when you depart this world. I wish to advise them to look for ventures that will add values to their lives. Yes, money is good, but we should look for it in the right channels.
We should work to be our brothers keepers instead of engaging in criminal activities. They should approach well-meaning individuals when they are under challenges for helps rather than taking to crime.
I’m a good governance campaigner., I used my platform to educate the youth about value reorientation.