This act of kindness started with a phone call.
Stephen Olugbenga was a second-year student at the Federal University of Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti state, Nigeria, when he got a call that changed his life. He was told that he would never have to worry about his school fees again.
Before then, Olugbenga, an orphan, had been surviving through the benevolence of his church members, who wanted to see him excel.
Even while in secondary school, he had dropped out of school due to a lack of funds, and it took the intervention of his Sunday school teacher, Mrs Satol, who rallied support from other church members for him to complete secondary school and later get admission into the university.
Olugbenga, who worships at the Redeemed Christian church of God, still needed to crowdfund to raise his 100-level school fees.
Then, a miracle happened.
Sometime in 2018, Mrs Satol texted Olugbenga to say that one of the persons who donated for his 100l school fees was interested in paying his fees through school.
“She had texted me, but I didn’t see it- because we rarely had light in my school environs. We go days without light. However, when she was able to reach me, she told me about Colonel A.A Johnson”
It sounded too good to be true in Olugbenga’s ears. A stranger was going to pay all his fees, and he needed not to worry about them any longer.
Olugbenga called Colonel A. A Johnson, then a Major, and he confirmed everything.
“He told me that he was going to pay my fees from 200l to 400l school fees.
He also said that I should let him know my needs, particularly in academics. He said that if I needed money for handouts, projects, or assignments that I should reach out to him,”
After the call ended, Olugbenga was filled with so many emotions he couldn’t say anything for a while.
But even with the Colonel’s commitment, Olugbenga initially struggled to reach out and make demands. Once, he was in dire need of 7,000 Naira for a class project, and it tool his last will for him to reach Colonel Johnson to remind him of his promise.
“What was I going to say? It felt so awkward to call someone I barely knew for money. I didn’t want to at first, but when I had no option- I called him,”
Colonel Johnson sent the 7,000 naira to Olugbenga that day and began giving him a monthly stipend of 5,000 to 10,000 naira.
It warmed Olugbenga’s heart that someone he hadn’t met would care for him so much. “The 5000 to 10,000 naira was a lot of money. It did a lot for me in school then. At a point, I could tell when Daddy would send me pocket money. He would send it on the 1st or 2nd of a new month. I just needed to be patient. Other times, all I had to do was wish Daddy a happy new month, and my account would get credited,” Olugbenga said.
They finally met in 2019.
Olugbenga and Colonel Johnson met when he was in his 300l level. It was in April.
“We bonded and spoke often on the phone. One day, he told me that his sons would be celebrating their birthday. He asked that I come, and I was too excited to decline. I was going to be meeting him for the very first time.”
Olugbenga baked a cake and travelled from Ekiti to Lagos.
“By the time I got to Ojo barracks in Lagos, the cake’s design had scattered- it pained me because I held it carefully on my laps throughout the road journey. Anyway, I got to the barracks at night and called him. He came in his jeep and took me home”
Olugbenga met Colonel Johnson’s family and was welcomed with open arms. He further affirms that his clothes and properties are in the Colonel’s house.
“Wherever I go in this world, on my return, that is my home. It’s the only home I know…” Olugbenga said.