“If my wife was not on duty on Thursday, June 14, 2018, certainly she would have been home, as a football fan, watching the opening ceremony of the World Cup, and, probably she would have been affected by the thunder that struck my house. If my househelp was not in the kitchen behind the main building, cooking with firewood- if she was cooking with gas in the main building kitchen, she would probably have died too of shock or the shrapnels from the blast that shook the sitting room.”
Stunned Okon Nnaetuk sends this sad story to Straightnews box. The footage is the miraculous escape of his family members from a natural disaster that visited his house unannounced, yet he and his family were absent. The thunder struck, made mince meat of some of his property and N600,000 has been piped out to replace the damaged items.
Though Accountancy is his first love, journalism is his second. “If I were not trained as accountant, I would have become a journalist. I read and write a lot. I have many websites I have been reading. I love the profession. When I retire from the civil service, I will be writing for London Financial Times,” the ANAN-qualified accountant reveals.
Beating a cub reporter, Nnaetuk succinctly puts the craft of second love-journalism into action thus “Thursday, June 14, in the office I received a call from home in Utu Abak that thunder had struck my house. I returned to find a crater in the verandah of my house. The impact of the thunder has shattered the hard core and burrowed through the floor, sending fragments of the tiles as missiles to pierce the ceilings and the roof, blasting the walls and the pipes carrying the electric cables.
“Good thing is the circuit breaker tripped off and the burning cables didn’t extend to the roof. All my television sets in the sitting room and the rooms are gone. I lost all the decoders- DSTV, Starsat, and Strong. The damage is extensive.”
The football lover says “I was thrown into shock and trauma but this morning I realised all those material things can be replaced. I have engaged technicians to repair the damaged portions of the roof and walls. I have acquired a new DSTV decoder and a TV screen so my people can watch the ongoing world cup.”
Married to Elizabeth, a staff nurse, Akwa Ibom-born Nnatuk from Etim Ekpo reminisces “Then I think to myself and thank God, what if my wife was dead, what if my househelp, someone else’s daughter, had been smoked to death. The impact was such that the two front tyres of my Camry car parked by the side of my house were blown out. What if it had landed on the car and set it ablaze. The dent it made on the driver’s side of the car will remain for some time to serve as a reminder that God works in a mysterious way.”
A lover of God, he recalls “Bible admonishes that in everything we should give thanks to God. Some sympathizers who have visited me have suggested it is not ordinary, that I should go out and find what and who is responsible. I thank God one of the sympathizers is Prof I. T. Eshiet. As a scientist and an expert in Chemistry, he has educated me and advised me on what to do.
“Another visitor who is well versed in Astro Physics has explained the phenomenon and advised me to install thunder arrestor and relay the earth installation of the electrification of the building. But I know that wise men still have the need for God. I pray that God guide and direct me in my decision and action.”
Elated Nnaetuk remarks “My greatest joy is that no life was lost. When my wife was a nurse at Health Centre, Ikot Ukpong Obio Ese in Oruk Anam, she brought a girl who has been living with us. We sponsored her to primary and secondary schools and she has finished and is nowin the higher institution. If anything had happened to her, what would we have told her parents?”
On lessons in life, he believes “Life is not a bed of roses. I believe that God will give me the courage to surmount any difficulty I may have. Much as we believe in God, let us also cherish scientific issues. When you put up a building, you should be well versed with the facilities that should be fixed in the house, quality of materials and earthing, and must install thunder arrestor.”
He is uncomfortable with the ebbing moral values in the society. “In those days, we used to read about such people as Ray Ekpu, Nelson Etukudoh and emulated them. We read and made sure our public opinions were published in the newspapers. These days, children are not interested in reading.”
As a father of two promising children- the son is a chemical engineer and the daughter is a student of Medicine and Surgery, he, however, regrets “These are the days the children should read more because there are many devices to connect them to many websites. But our children use the devices in watching films, playing computer games. They are misinformed.
“A young man would want to think that to be seen as being strong, you have to join secret cult instead of reading to improve himself as a hardworking person. It is advisable for us to make our children to read and discover more about nature, working of the society and about government. Do you know many people do not know about the workings of government? People should know that government has powers, rights and obligations of the citizens and rules. Some children just think you have to wait for government to feed them.”
He is not complacent to the dwindling moral values in the society. As a product of public schools, he thinks the present-day teachers are not dedicated to duty hence the falling standard of education in the society. “You have secondary teachers on grade levels 14, 15, 16 and more in public schools compared to private secondary schools where there are many retired teachers but committed to duty.”
Nnaetuk is a brilliant chap. In his school certificate examinations, he shone like a star by bagging Grade One with aggregate 16. “The problem is that there is no dedication in public schools. For example, if a public school reopens today, it takes two or three weeks before the students will return to the schools. In the private schools, day one is day. If you have 14 weeks to cover, you must do so without complaint.
“In some secondary schools, you have teachers trading on oil palm, palm kernel and other commodities during school hours. In our days, auxiliary teachers who taught us did well and some us passed out in good grades. These days, our children are taught by graduate teachers, yet the children do not want to read,” he laments.
As a lover of nature, he finds the high-fenced compounds that blocks gaseous exchange between man and plants nauseating. According to him, “someone will build a compound but tiles everywhere forgetting that there is gaseous exchange between man and plant. High fence does not pay. Make it four coatings or iron nailing to allow air to pass into the compound. You have to plant grass so that there will gaseous exchange instead of building a house like a prison yard- no air, no grass.”
Sedentary lifestyle among some people readily draws his ire. Nnaetuk bemoans “Sedentary lifestyle is a big problem in the society today. Someone will leave his house in the morning after staying in an air-conditioned room will enter air-conditioned car to air-conditioned house. We should always keep our cars and trek to church or any other place. Sedentary lifestyle causes health problem among some people.” He advises “We should engage in physical exercise.”