Musa Ibrahim: Honouring A Poor Student Who Returned Lost Phone
There is a thin line of demarcation between success and failure. If only you know when and where one would encounter a life-changing experience, humans would probably be more positive in their thoughts, utterances and doings.
Musa Ibrahim is an obscured 19-year-old Senior Secondary School 3 student of Abe Technical Secondary School, Odo-Ona Elewe, Off Alao-Akala Expressway, Ibadan. He is also an apprentice, learning upholstery around the vicinity.
Musa is a street boy, toughened by the visiccitudes of life. Though young, he carries on his shoulder the burden of an adult, looking for survival in a crazy, wild world. An indigent student, he depends solely on himself to survive. He has a vagabond father who is not there to cater for him. With his mother dead, his was a story of lack, hunger and depravity.
Not too bright as a student, Musa is barely literate as he finds it difficult to speak simple English. He is rascally and well known in his school as a truant who is always at loggerhead with the school authority. As gathered, hardly would a week pass by, with him escaping various forms of punishment from the school principal, Mrs Aderonke Toye.
However, when he set out on one of his usual outings that fateful evening of Sunday, 28 March, 2021, little did Musa knew that he is a child of destiny who cannot remain in obscurity forever. He was definitely unprepared for what is now gradually changing the course of his life.
It was an encounter with Mrs Adebisi Akinrinola (a research officer with the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Ibadan) that is beginning to alter his orientation and possibly turn around his fortune.
Speaking with Newscoven.ng, last Friday, on what could be termed a divine intervention in his life, Musa said: I met mummy (Mrs Akinrinola) penultimate Monday morning when I returned her lost phone to her.
“I saw the phone, on Sunday, on the ground at ST Apata, Iyana Odo-Ona Elewe. Some people around me at the scene where I discovered the phone advised that I should wipe all the information on the phone and switch it off. They advised me to sell it.”
He said he initially yielded to the temptation to keep the phone to himself. He further said he replaced one of the SIMs in the dual-sim phone with his own, adding that it was when he was scrolling through the contents therein that he had a change of heart, convinced that the owner was using the phone for business.
“When I went through the contents in the phone, I thought it was being used for charms. I didn’t know that what were therein were for herbal concoctions and soap making. So, I decided not to take to the advice of the people, knowing that the phone is a business line,” Musa said.
A poor boy who could hardly afford to feed himself, Musa said it did not occur to him to sell the phone and use the money to take care of himself. When he was contacted by the owner, he said, after several calls, he eventually picked the call and told the woman to come and collect her phone.
“It didn’t occur to me that it was an avenue for me to make money. Actually, something happened between me and the man I am living with and he seized my phone for about three days. I know how I felt during that period; I was not happy throughout the period that my phone was with him.
“I now related it to what happened to the owner of the phone. That was why I said “eri okan gan lo je ki n gbe call yin ma” (“it is my conscience that made me to pick your call ma”). I thought, how would I feel if I am the one that lost my own phone? That is why I returned the phone to its owner.
“If I should sell the phone, I will eventually spend the money and if I decide to keep it and convert it to my personal use, it will eventually get spoil one day. So, what is my gain in keeping another person’s phone and subjecting her to pains and agonies?,” he asked.
When asked what he is doing to survive, Musa said: “I have one boss who I told my story. His name is Ibrahim and people also call him IB. We are always together. Several times I will sleep in his house and help him to do house chores. He has been helping me; many times, he gives me money for me to survive. There are times he gives me up to N1,000.
“There are times I call my parents. Actually, I don’t like calling them because they don’t have anything on them. My father is a hustler in Lagos, while my mother is late. I live with my father’s elder brother.
“My boss is into upholstery work. I am learning the job under him and, at the same time, I am going to school. I will go to school in the morning and return to the workshop in the afternoon.
“There are times the school will be boring to me. At such time, I will go to the workshop, if we have work to do. I will be at the workshop after school hours from 2pm.”
Musa’s school is tuition-free, being a public school, but he must pay to write this year’s WAEC and NECO examinations. When asked how and where he is going to get the money to pay the examination fees, he said: “My boss gave me part of the money for both WAEC and NECO examinations.
“I have paid just N5,000. But mummy (Mrs Akinrinola) has made some promises in that wise. She told me that we should go and see my school principal. But I am not keen about that because I am not on friendly terms with my principal.”
Newscoven.ng was curious and asked why a boy so young could be so bold to say he is not on friendly terms with his principal, a female and a mother.
Blunt and unpretentious, Musa said: “I do come to school late, most times. This is because I have to go to my boss in the morning to collect money for food before going to school. Many of these times, when the principal sees me, she will always give me severe punishments for coming late to school. This made me to keep a distance from the principal.”
When asked why he did not explain his plight to the principal, the boy displayed his independent-mindedness as he said: “I don’t like telling people my story. But I had to explain to my boss because I don’t have anywhere to go to or anybody else to turn to.”
Speaking further on why he obeyed his conscience and returned the phone to the owner, Musa said: “I just knew that the phone would be useful to the owner. Initially, I didn’t pick when they were calling the line several times. But I decided to pick after the fourth or fifth time because by then I have been convinced that the phone is very important to the owner.
“More so, I have checked the contents in the phone and I discovered that it is a business line. I now picked the call and assured them that the phone is safe with me and that I will give it to her.
“Even daddy (Mrs Akinrinola’s husband) doubted my sincerity. When he suggested that I should bring the phone to Dugbe, I made it known to him that I don’t have any money for transportation. So I told them to come and meet me in my school to collect the phone.”
Musa, an unassuming young boy with no tall ambition, said he was surprised by the turn of events and the attendant attention that followed his decision to return the phone. He said he was not expecting any reward for returning the phone, noting that there was nothing extra-ordinary in his action.
“I didn’t ever think of such a thing happening to me. I was surprised and I will forever remain grateful to Mummy Akinrinola. I learnt a very big lesson that being a thief is not a good thing. You must not take possession of what is not yours; if you come across such, just return it to the owner.
“All what I know is that I never expected that people would be calling me like this. In truth, I believe I didn’t do anything extra-ordinary by seeing a phone and giving it back to the owner. I did not know that they will be posting my photo on the Facebook or other places on the social media.
“I never thought anybody will be calling to ask for my account number. Those who have asking for my account number, I have been telling them that I don’t have one yet. Honestly, I never thought that what I did was anything a big deal,” he said.
Determined to become a successful furniture maker, Musa said, if a lump sum of money should come his way, he “will gather such a money and buy some working instruments for my upholstery works. One of the instruments, the industrial machine, is very expensive. I will make sure that I buy it first.”
Recalling what happened that fateful Sunday evening, Mrs Adebisi Akinrinola said she went to visit her parents at Iyana Cele, ST Apata Junction, Off Odo-Ona Road. She added that, because of the road, she normally park at the junction and then trek to the house.
“On this particular day, when I was going back home, I was about to enter the car when I had a call. I brought out the phone and answered the call. But as I entered into the car, I realised that some of the things I was carrying had poured into the car. So, I went to take a napkin from the booth to clean it up.
“By the time I was cleaning what poured, I didn’t know that I have placed the phone on my lap. So, as I got down to got down from the car to take the napkin from the booth, the phone had fallen off, without me knowing. It was a grassy area and so I couldn’t hear the sound when it fell. I just took the napkin, did the cleaning and I zoomed off.
“It takes me about 45 minutes to drive home. When I got to the house, I felt that my mother must have called me. That is how we normally do whenever I visit her: she would call to ask if I got to the house safely. So, I was thinking my mother must have called and that was when I realised that the phone was no longer with me,” she said.
Mrs Akinrinola said she and her husband searched for the phone everywhere, including inside the car. After a fruitless effort, she said her husband suggested that they should call her phone to be able to trace wherever it may be in the house.
“My husband called but the phone was switched off. He said could it be that the battery has gone down. I told him no, it was well charged in the afternoon. So, when it was switched off, it then dawned on me that it must have been stolen.
“In fact, I ran into the toilet; I didn’t even know where the stomach upset came from. I have two SIMs in the phone, but I have been using the MTN line since immediately after GSM was introduced into the country.
“It was such a devastating imagination to have lost the phone. Also, there are so many things, information and contacts on the phone. I just prayed that God should just touch the heart of whoever is in possession of the phone.
“It was around 7-7:30pm. I also called my sister. She left her house and went to the place with her husband to search for the phone at around 8-8:30pm. They called me back to say they could not find it.
“After about one and half hours, my husband called the phone again and it rang and we were so happy, but he (Musa) did not pick it. It rang again, he did not pick it and the third time, he cut it off. I said, ‘God, have mercy’.
“At about the fourth or fifth time, he now picked it. We have heard stories, so it was not strange that he picked it. Many have done like that; they will pick the call and even tell you to come and pick your phone at a particular place. But they will disappoint at the end of the day.
“My husband was on the phone, conversing with him. Then, he gave me the phone. I talked with Musa and I asked if he was sure that he would not disappoint us.
“He now said: ‘Mummy, eri okan gan lo je ki ngbe. Ma da phone yin pada fun yin. E wa gba phone yin ni school mi ni aaro ola’ (Mummy, it is my conscience that made me to pick the call. I will return your phone to you. Come and pick your phone in my school the following morning).
“The following morning, he was the first person to call around 7am to ask when are we coming. My husband said ‘this is really serious’. So, we just left what we were doing. Without taking our bath, we got into the car and went to his school.
“We waited for him; he said he was going to collect feeding allowance from somebody. He came at after 8am and, alas, he just handed over the phone to us. It was really amazing and surprising,” she said.
The grateful Mrs Akinrinola added: “That very night, before Musa eventually spoke with us, I was making a lot of contacts on some groups about how to block my bank accounts and some other things.
“All what I was told and what were posted on WhatsApp did not work. So, you can imagine the stress. They said I should first do a police report before I can start the processing and coupled with the ongoing BVN and NIN palaver.
“I really thank God that He touched his heart. Musa has a responsive conscience. God was able to use him. You know, he could be a reprobate mind; a mind that will not respond to any plea; a man that does not fear God.
“Listening to his story and condition, he has every reasons to sell the phone and use the money to help himself. Rather, when we saw him, he just said: “E sa fun mi ni N200 ki n lo fi jeun” (Just give me N200 to go and eat). Of course, we gave him much more.
“There and then, I vow that, though I don’t have much, I am going to make him known to the whole world; that I am going to use the power of the social media to make sure that people appreciate him on my behalf.”
To show her appreciation of Musa’s act of honesty, she said: “I posted Musa’s photo and phone number on the Facebook and a lot of people have been contacting him, appreciating him for what he did.
“My church women group, the Convenant Women Nigeria, New Convenant Church, has gone to his school. The group promised to pay the balance of his examinations fees and I want to believe that God will do much more.
“Now that he is even telling us that he lives by grace, I want to believe that Nigerians will rise to help him. The Lord will bless him. Truth, righteousness, responsive conscience will exalt his life and he will never remain the same again. He is going to be a model and a good example to other youths.
“Since he has said what he wanted to do, I have friends that can be of help. I pray that his result is good. He can go to a vocational school to learn more about carpentry and upholstery. We are trusting God that He will perfect it.”
On Tuesday, Newscoven.ng and two other journalists were at Abe Technical Secondary School where Mrs Adeola Oduwole, a retired principal from the Oyo State Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM), presented the sum of N35,000, on behalf of the Convenant Women Nigeria, New Convenant Church, to the school principal, Mrs Aderonke Toye, to make up the payment of the WAEC and NECO examination fees for Musa.
An elated and proud Mrs Toye, who said she was not initially aware of the whole incident, was full of joy over the turn of events and the good fortune smiling on Musa.
“Musa Ibrahim is my student, a student of SS3. They are even doing their Mock Examination now. In actual fact, I didn’t even know that such thing is going on in my school. But one of my sisters, a colleague who has retired, just came to my school.
“She said: ‘My sister, you don’t even look at what is happening on the Facebook. There is a boy in your school that found an Android phone and returned it back to the owner’. She told me that she came purposely because of that boy. I told her I don’t know.
“Then, I called some of my teachers who were aware of the case and they told me that this is what Musa did and even the owner came to the school to collect the phone. The owner was asking Musa what she can give him. Musa said the owner should give him N200; that it was his conscience that made him to release the phone.
“I and that retired school principal, Mrs Adeola Oduwole, now called him and started asking him some questions. He does not even know the import of what he did.
“I learnt that his mother is dead and his father is not here in Ibadan; he is in Lagos. When we interrogated him, we got to know that Musa is even learning a job somewhere besides the school here,” she said.
The principal also corroborated Musa’s claim that he always come to school late as he needed to collect money from his boss for feeding.
“We learnt that he always come from the city down to Odo-Ona Elewe, but he will first of all go to his master to collect money that he will use to eat. After school hours, he will return to the workshop to learn the trade, furniture-making,” she said.
While she is not opposed to the idea of sending the boy to a higher institution after graduating from secondary school, Mrs Toye was of the view that more attention should be paid to his area of interest, furniture-making and upholstery.
“In the course of asking him questions, my colleague, Mrs Oduwole, said they want to give him scholarship and send him to a higher institution. I told her, ‘well, we are his teacher and counsellor. Psycologically, he is okay with the SS3 WAEC examination that he is going to sit for. If he has the WAEC and NECO results, he can go places. But let him face the trade that he is learning’.
“We also asked him and, from his response, we can see that he so loves to engage in that trade, more than going to any higher institution. He is particular about buying some equipment, including one industrial machine, for his furniture work.
“That was why I introduced my son, Ola, to him. He learnt furniture and he has a very big workshop now. I withdrew my son from school when he was in JSS3, having realised that he cannot cope.
“Coincidentally, where my son learnt that trade some four years ago is close to where Musa is learning the trade now. My son said he can help Musa whenever he has an upholstery work to do. So, I linked the two of them together; that anytime my son is having any work to do, he should be calling Musa to assist him,” she said.
The school principal however said Musa is a boy that the school authority had initially written off. “I can say that Musa is very fortunate. God just wants to help him. Maybe one of his parents did something good to somebody in the past and God now wants to reward Musa for what his parents did.
“Musa is not a good boy. Several times, I used to seize phones from him. I used to punish him because I use all measures for disciplining in my school.
“I do invite to my school members of the security patrol teams that our amiable Governor Seyi Makinde put in strategic places in the city: they will come here 12noon; they will be at 2:30pm and also every weekend.
“This is because our school is very exposed to all these hooligans and touts. So, ever since I have been in this school, I have not recorded any bad incident like student clashes.
“God is just ready to help Musa and once this opportunity goes away from him, I don’t think he regain it again. That is what I told him: that he should make good use of the opportunity; he should do what he wants to do.
“He should not lie about what he cannot do. But one thing about him is that he has the fear of God and that is why I am imploring you people that want to help Musa to please do.
“Musa needs help because I learnt that his father is irresponsible. I am sorry using that word, but I cannot help it when one or two persons are saying the same thing and the mother is late.
“So, if you want to help Musa Ibrahim, I wish you help him through his trade; he loves that job. I can see this when he was discussing with my son. I was told he has been learning the trade for two years now and he is supposed to spend four to five years learning the trade.
“So, I want to thank you people and God for this intervention in his life. It is God that is really ruling this school. Before I got here, I have heard a lot of nasty things which gave me sleepless nights; I will be wondering, how am I going to administer the school?
“But when you put God first in all your ways, everything will be like one is an expert or as if one employs juju. I am very happy about what is happening now.
“You know, it is one thing that will lead to one’s popularity and fame; it is one thing that will lead to one’s elevation and it is one thing that will lead to one’s downfall.
“I thank God that what happened to Musa did not lead to my fall. I am very happy because Musa is someone that has been written off; Musa is the least person that I ever thought would make this school popular positively.
“We have a lot of bad students here. Even when we were doing the data capturing for the WAEC Examination, we were worried that how can he be captured successfully, being a red-haired boy with a red face. But his photo and data came out pretty well, all at once. That was when the good luck started manifesting in him.
“So, I am very happy that I have a student who is trustworthy, honest and who is fearful. He was consistent in saying it that it was his conscience that made him to return the phone.
“If he had yielded to the advice he was given by his friends, maybe he would be at the Agodi Prisons by now because such a phone can be easily tracked and traced to whoever he decided to sell it to.
“Should such a thing happen, the name of the school will be dragged in the mud. We thank God that it was never like that. So, I am very happy for what Musa did by returning the phone to the owner and the owner now decided to do much for him,” she said.
Mrs Toye was also full of praises for the Oyo State governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, for having a special interest in the education sector in the state.
“On a final note, I want to thank Governor, Engineer Makinde. He has done very well for all the public schools in Oyo State, particularly for us the principals by giving us grants to run the schools. He also did well by giving us enough teachers for all the subjects.
“We have teachers for almost all the subjects we are offering in my school. Recently, the governor gave the students big note exercise books and he promised that he will see to the infrastructure of the school. He has already embarked on projects in some schools; providing chairs and equipment in laboratories.
“So, kudos to Engineer Makinde; he has done very well. I think, it is what he did for the students that made Musa to do what he did in respect of the phone. If he had sold the phone for N10,000 or N20,000, the money cannot be enough for the textbooks that the governor gave all the students. He gave them textbooks on Physics, Chemistry, Biology and then the Compendium that we normally use for the Intervention Classes,” she said.
Presenting the money to the school principal on behalf of her association, Mrs Oduwole said the sum of N35,000 was to make up for the N40,000 needed for both the WAEC and NECO examinations, as Musa had earlier paid N5,000 as deposit.
“When I read the story of Musa Ibrahim, I was delighted and so happy that, at this time, we can still see a boy that is talking of conscience. I know the principal of the school. When I heard that he does not want to take them to the principal, I told them that the principal is my sister and colleague.
“I came down, we discussed and I was told that he has not paid for his WAEC and NECO examinations; that he just paid N5,000. But the principal had balanced up for WAEC because it will soon close. I told her that she should not worry; that Convenant Women Nigeria will pay for both the WAEC and NECO.
“I was here Wednesday, last week and I promised bringing the money on Tuesday. I told my sister, Mrs Adebisi Akinrinola, that we should both come together to present the money. That is why we came here today (Tuesday).”
Mrs Oduwole also disclosed that she personally has interest in the growth and development of Musa. She promised that she would henceforth take more than a passing interest and closely monitor his activities.
Having read on the Facebook, last week, of the honest act of Musa, a British-Nigerian woman based in London got in touch with Newscoven.ng and made a payment of N30, 375 to assist him in his education and career advancement.
The woman, who pleaded anonymity in a private chat with Newscoven.ng, said: “If you are organising a monetary gift for the youngster on Lara Wise’s [Facebook] page, kindly let me know. I would like to add a small token. His decision to do good, in spite of his needs, is to be commended. We are living in dire times.
“I would like to remain anonymous, you know our people. I have children as well and hope that there will always be a good samaritan for them somewhere. I don’t have plenty, but I am grateful. I learnt philanthropy from the best…”
Indeed, God is beginning to manifest his power in the life Musa, the once-upon-a-time obscured boy but who fate brought to limelight, through his honesty, perseverance and obedience to the dictates of his conscience.