CEO of IROKO TV Jason Njoku has recently shared an experience that reemphasised the need to get a Hygeia Healthcare plan for your family, staff and everyone that depends on you for support. It’s the smart thing to do.
Read the below story culled from Medium.com by Jason Njoku:
Trust in Nigeria… A grown man crying
Gabriel called me in tears. A grown man crying. This was new.
I hadn’t heard from him in years, hadn’t seen him in years either. Since my days in Festac in fact (I left Festac in 2011). He used to be a really supportive salesman for one of the big ISPs. So I knew him. I like him. At least, enough to pick up his phone call seven years later.
He was super upset. His daughter was in general hospital. She had a kidney failure (or something like that), he had exhausted his funds and was crying, no, pleading for my help.
Usually I would suspect fraud and shut this thing down. But
- A child
- Her name was ‘Michelle’ (coincidently my older sister’s name)
- A grown man was crying. Not begging.
As awkward as it was for me, I felt it would have been terrible for him. I asked him specifically what he needed, ‘anything you can manage is okay’, I asked and he shared his bank details with me.
Red flag #1 — It came instantly. As in, not some minutes later. Instantly, after I dropped the call, I got the sms with his bank details. No bother.
I was about to head out to MMA1 to pick up Mrs Njoku. Usually any kind of money we give or donate, we at least have a brief discussion about it. So when I picked her up, I mentioned it. She asked where his daughter was and how much was I thinking of giving? I told her I didn’t know. She said bills at General Hospital Ikeja weren’t that bad. I should send someone down there to get the bill directly. If it wasn’t too crazy, I should just settle the entire thing.
See, health is my biggest fear living in Nigeria. If there is a real health emergency here in Lagos I have this sense that it’s basically between God and I whether I answer the call.
Last week, Mary and I attended the burial of her long time friend and fellow Nollywood actress, Nora Ugo. The very first meal I bought for Mrs. Njoku (when I was still toasting) was for both Nora and her. She had a long term illness which even though evident to outsiders, she refused to share beyond her immediate family. The biggest regret for Mrs Njoku was could she have made a difference had she knew the extent or nature of the illness? It wasn’t a question of money. Nora and her family are close and quiet and kept it amongst themselves.
Just to understand the length of how much we care about health, unbeknownst to most, late last year after attending an Association of Movie Producers (AMP) meeting in Surulere, she saw folks in genuine need. Who looked like they too would require some type of health assistance in the near future. She, like so many others, are tired of the constant ‘we are sick, bring money to save us campaigns’ always going around former Nollywood industry people. Surely prevention is cheaper than cure.
IROKO has provided Hygeia health care to all her full time employees for years. Surely it wasn’t that expensive? She called me to ask if we could find a way to extend coverage for AMP Lagos members. The answer was simple. Yes.
It took a few months of political intrigue and administration, but she paid for healthcare for 105 people who are now currently benefiting from the HyLife plan. Left to her, she would never mention it. Philanthropy should be done without the parade.
So. Gabriel called me at a pretty fertile time. My Mugu radar was faulty. But we had just
- We lost someone close to Mrs Njoku and buried her last week
- Health (alongside Education) is our philanthropy of choice
Red flag #2 – Gabriel gave me 20+ missed calls yesterday afternoon. Not a big deal, a little intense perhaps, but as he was in desperation… He also sent me the below sms’s.
So I shared his number with Mrs Njoku and she sent one of her interns to General Hospital Ikeja to get the bill information. Before he left, I insisted he called Gabriel to let him know we were seriously working on it. The next day I got this feedback…
To say I was disappointed was an understatement. As someone who usually has the mind to silently support where I can. This will only take a usually cynical person that much further away from opening and embracing to all opportunities to help. Shame on Gabriel for trying to use his daughter (if she even exists) to extort money from someone, who at least held him in relatively high regard. I have tried to call him a couple of times for a good ol’ lashing. My number is, But alas.
My calls are no longer going through. But this is the norm in Nigeria. Most of the people of means I know are constantly bombarded with people asking for assistance. That’s not a big deal. Nigeria is really hard and if you don’t have a strong support network it is horrible, borderline unbearable. We have a culture of giving. Gabriel reinforces the worst of Nigerians. And that isn’t cool at all.
Navigating ‘Nigeria’ and all her extreme nuances is a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute chore. People need help in this country. Always. And there’s no sense of ‘State’ to support those in real need or hardship. I try to support people genuinely in need, be it with money or time, wherever humanly possible. I have a start-up and a young family, so neither resources are in abundance chez Njoku. In most societies, they work on the premise of ‘innocent until proven guilty’. In instances like Gabriel’s, my knee-jerk reaction is simply to never entertain the idea of financial support again. To blanket ban all such SMS’. Guilty until proven innocent, would be more applicable in Nigeria. But then there’s the work that Mrs. Njoku has done to support those genuinely in need, and I know that those she has helped are grateful. I guess it’s just a case of Navigating Nigeria. Case-by-case-by-case. It’s exhausting.
Culled from medium.com. Written by Jason Njoku