INTERVIEW: Wife, children think I’m crazy offering Ekweremadu’s daughter kidney – Journalist

Kaduna-based journalist and publisher of Daily Newstime, John Adi, recently attracted public attention when he publicly made an ...


Kaduna-based journalist and publisher of Daily Newstime, John Adi, recently attracted public attention when he publicly made an offer to donate a kidney to the ailing daughter of a former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu. In this interview with ISRAEL BULUS, Adi responds to some of the questions thrown up in the public space by his offer

Tell us a bit about your background.

My name is John Femi Adi. I am the immediate-past Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Kaduna State Council. I am currently the Managing Editor of an online media platform called Daily Newstime. I am also a farmer. I recently had a brief stint as an aspirant, who vied for Kogi West Senatorial seat. Funding was the obstacle that sent me out of the race. I am currently farming and doing part-time field journalism.

For how long have you been a journalist?

started my journalism career with Daily Independent Newspaper in 2005 as a reporter in Kaduna after I graduated from the Department of Mass Communication, Kaduna State Polytechnic in 2002, as one of the best students. I later joined The NEWS Magazine as a State Senior Correspondent between 2007 and 2016 when I left to start my own media outfit called Daily Newstime.

Are you married; do you have children?

Yes, I am married with two beautiful kids – a girl and a boy.

You were recently in the news for opting to donate a kidney to the ailing daughter of former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.  What informed that decision?

Well, as a journalist, who has concern for public issues, I had followed that story from day one. It is very painful that a serving senator and former Deputy Senate President could be in such a problem, because he’s trying to save the life of his dear daughter. For me, that Senator Ekweremadu had to go into detention for this purpose is a serious embarrassment to this country. Most embarrassing is that it was in the United Kingdom that a former Deputy Senate President of our country is in prison custody over the allegation that he was trying to harvest someone’s organ. I followed that story with keen interest until the point where the wife was eventually released on bail and he (Ekweremadu) is still in detention till now, for whatever misconstrued issues. However, the daughter thereafter came out and made a passionate appeal to Nigerians to help her. It was at this point that I said to myself, “You mean in the entire South-East region and the entire senatorial district that Senator Ekweremadu came from, there is no one willing to help donate a kidney to save this girl’s life?” As a journalist, whose primary assignment is to report issues such as this, I was deeply challenged beyond writing stories about the issue; I moved to volunteer to help. The first question I asked myself was: “Is it that we’ve lost our sense of humanity or we’re afraid to die?”  I immediately called my doctor and asked him to tell me about one’s chances of survival if one donates a kidney.

And he said every human being has two kidneys and can survive with one inasmuch as he or she follows prescribed medical advice and guidelines. At this point, I made up my mind to help, especially considering her passionate appeal for help. Secondly, I had a deep thought about the Biblical injunction that says ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’.  In this case, we’re talking about daughter of a serving leader and lawmaker, despite the fact that he came from the East. The name ‘National Assembly’ is not Igbo National Assembly. So, I felt Ekweremadu is my senator and my former Deputy Senate President making laws that affect my life and the entire Nigerians.  My Bible also tells me that all commandments have been collapsed into two to guide the world today, which is to love God and to love your neighbour. If we claim to serve and love God that we can’t see, the purpose of Christianity is defeated if it’s not reflected in how we relate with our fellow human beings. I love the girl and love what her father has done and he’s still doing for this great country. 

Thus, I decided to show unconditional love to save a life by donating one of my kidneys.

As a public figure, I understand the implications of donating a kidney to anyone. It will definitely change the negative mentality about helping people. I am ready at anytime to donate my kidney if the compatibility test is conducted and confirmed okay, I will go ahead and do the needful. Though I see that there were lots of comments after the story was published in The PUNCH and several other newspapers and online platforms, with some persons kicking against my offer while some others commended my guts, I have resolved to help and I don’t care as long as I am doing it in the interest of God and for the sake of humanity. We are supposed to be our brothers’ keepers at all times, especially when the person involved is the  daughter of our leader and it’s considered a payback time for what he has done for this country. There is no monetary inducement attached to it. My motivation is that if I have two kidneys, I can give one to someone in need  if I know I will live thereafter; after all, if I die today, it is not for a criminal act, but an act of saving a soul. There is nothing more worthwhile and gratifying than making sacrifices for the sake of God and humanity.

Do you think you can really convince members of the public who believe that your gesture is motivated by financial gains?

There is no financial gain attached to my gesture. For crying out loud, I am a contented human being, who has worked and invested in real estate and farming. At least, if I die today, my children have what to fall back on. Paying school fees and feeding will never be a problem. With all sense of humility, I am not poor to the point of donating my kidney to survive or eke out a living. The act is just a cause to help someone in line with the tenets of my faith as a Christian.

How did your wife and children receive the news of your offer to donate your kidney?

They all think I’m crazy and that I am going to die. If you go to the comment sections of PUNCH and other newspapers on the social media, you will see how some people called me an idiot, others said, “You want to help a rich man’s daughter, who is already rich, why not go and donate to the poor?” I kept laughing. But there are some who actually appreciated what I did. My family members felt deciding to donate a kidney means I want to die for somebody. But I told those who took time to listen to me that the issue of death shouldn’t be the case, since the focus is about saving a life. Jesus died at a very young age, so, if I die sacrificing for one soul, is there anything wrong about it? My wife asked me, “If you die, who will take care of your children?” I said, “No; the gesture is genuine from my heart and I will go through whatever process safely and even if I die in the process, it will be on record that I died to save a soul. Christianity is about sacrifice and I am ready for it.”

Some people insinuated that you’re nursing the ambition of marrying the lady. What is your reaction to that?

If I do that it means my gesture is on selfish grounds, but if there is a divine arrangement, so be it. But you know I am married. But the truth is that I am not doing it because I want to marry her. I know there will be a relationship that’s going to be established between me and the family.  I believe what will happen thereafter is agape love and this is going to cement the relationship between the North and the South; North-Central and South-East geopolitical zone, the Igbo and Yoruba in this country .This thing I am doing is more or less a unifying gesture, that someone from the North is helping someone from the East and my organ will be there for life; that’s the essence.

Has anyone tried to discourage you from donating your kidney?

Discouragement is an understatement; lots of people have called to scare me that my two (kidneys) might be removed, instead of one, while some said I would die. Even medical doctors have called to ask if I know the implications of what I want to do. Many others have called to tell to shun them (the Ekweremadus) and decline to help because no else is offering to donate their kidney to the lady. Some others advised me that if I must do it, I should demand heavy money but I said no. If you look at what I posted, there’s a high sense of spirituality involved and I won’t go back on it. I am a mature man and I should be able to take decisions and I have resolved to do that.

Have you been contacted by the Ekweremadus since you made the public offer to the lady?

Yes, about two persons called and claimed they are Senator Ekweremadu’s Personal Assistants and some of his friends overseas that saw my number in The PUNCH specifically called to thank me for accepting to donate my kidney. Even today (Thursday) someone sent me a WhatsApp message, urging me to hold onto my decision to help. He prayed for me and promised to get back after a family meeting.

Are you not afraid you can be affected in one way or the other in the process of trying to help?

Life itself is a risk; if you don’t take risks, you can’t move forward. Dangote is the richest man today in Africa because he took some risks. The money he invested in that business could have gone down the drain. Journalism itself that we’re practising today is a risk. Any story we write as journalists is for or against, yet I have survived about 17 years on the job. Once we’re compatible, one of my kidneys is going to that lady without delay.

But do you have enough information about kidney donation?

have read some articles and I am still reading. I know there are some dos and don’ts. The most important thing is to keep myself healthy. If you have one kidney, it means you don’t have a spare and I am conscious of this fact. I won’t go and do something that will later harm me and then I start running helter-skelter, looking for someone to donate a kidney to me.

Many Nigerians, who read Ms Ekweremadu’s plea for a kidney donor, argue that she doesn’t deserve being helped because her father is among the political elite who have failed to improve the country’s health care system. Do you think that is a fair statement to make?

It's in two ways; we have had government in the past and government in the present that have failed to ensure that the medical sector is properly taken care of. Ekweremadu is a lawmaker. We have three arms of government. We have the executive, which implements policies; and we have the lawmakers, who make laws. If laws are being made and the executive refuses to implement at the federal, state and local government levels, who do you blame? Go to the National Assembly and check archives, you will see lots of laws passed that have not been implemented. Do you then blame a lawmaker for the ineptitude on the part of the executive? I wouldn’t know if Ekweremadu has ever held any executive position; or whether he was ever a governor or a local government chairman, who would have handled the health sector. If he has, then I would say nemesis has caught up with him. But that is not the case. Even in the United States, there are some health issues you have to sort out outside your country.

So, if he’s on a medical tour to rescue his daughter’s life, there is nothing wrong in that. But this should serve as a lesson for him and others that we need to get some of these things on the ground. I want to believe if it was in Nigeria, Ekweremadu wouldn’t have been arrested even if that boy betrayed him. He left the shores of Nigeria and went to the UK thinking he was going to get the best and today he’s in prison for that. That is a lesson for everyone in position of authorities to ensure that things work in this country for the betterment of all.

Punch


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