A security guard and employee of Technocrime Securities attached to the United Bank of Africa (UBA), Oba Akran Branch, Lagos, Muhammed Ibrahim Ogbanago, did something striking recently. He found a sum of $10,000 close to the gate of the bank he worked with and returned it.
Mr Ogbanago earns N30,000 per month and the money he found is equivalent to what he will earn in 10 years. But rather than pocket the money, he knew it belonged to someone else and returned it to the bank manager, who was pleasantly surprised by his honesty.
The Chief Executive Officer of UBA, Mr Tony Elumelu, would later commend the 29-year old Ogbanago. According to him, “When I heard about this story, I knew I had to meet the man, who despite facing rising petrol and transportation prices and ‘tomato Ebola’ returned such a huge sum of money without recourse to himself…” He also leveraged on the young man’s honesty to project his bank: “Muhammed Ibrahim Ogbanago is an exemplary ambassador of the UBA spirit and it was fulfilling to meet and reward him for his conduct.”
Mr Ogbanago’s character is exemplary in our country where the rank of role models is fast depleting. For a man “squatting” with his brothers, who is struggling to get married but remains handicapped by resources, to return such money is a hallmark of good upbringing, honesty and self-discipline. He is an ample example that Nigeria is not hopeless and that not all of us are thieves when no one is watching, contrary to a Nigerian proverb.
Speaking on his motivation, Mr Ogbanago, who hails from Kogi State, said, “By the grace of God, I am a honest and sincere Muslim. I believe that a good name is better than riches.” He is not perturbed that the expectation of many Nigerians about huge financial reward is not met because he did not return the money to be rewarded with cash. “I did not do it to be rewarded…I have a good name. That to me is more important than any financial reward. My God will bless me with my own riches. I am a devout Muslim. I would never touch another man’s money,” he added.
Believe me, this is a Nigerian that should be celebrated for exemplary behaviour. This is a Nigerian whose photograph should adorn posters and billboards, starting from the adverts of UBA, to showcase who a true Nigerian should be. This is a Nigerian who should be rallied around so that those who mock(ed) him for being honest will be put to shame. Honesty is still the best policy, despite the high cost of living.
On those who would have kept the money, this is what would have happened to the person who lost it, quoting Mr Ogbanago: “Later, the man who came to withdraw the money came looking for it. He prostrated on the ground for me and prayed for me on hearing what happened. He was only an employee asked to withdraw the money… The man was almost in tears saying he would have been locked up in Kirikiri had the money not been found. He added that the education of his three children in the University would have suffered a great deal. He told me he had no money to give me but prayed that his God would reward me.”
It would be a powerful message to the youth, who are vulnerable to being influenced by touts and thieves in politics and leeches and rascals in the entertainment industry if Mr Ogbanago is glorified. It is in the interest of the teeming young people who would be influenced by his story. Let the Elumelu Foundation sponsor his education to the University level; he already graduated from a College of Education. Let him be a living example of how it is good to be good as he eventually gains more than the worth of the money he returned.
Ultimately, Ogbanago’s philosophy is good and thoughtful. According to him, “I believe there are three routes to popularity. One is through political office, second is through criminality and the third is through good deeds. And I chose the third. I am happy and fulfilled seeing my name all over the internet, in the papers, on TV, hearing it on radio and it’s for a very good deed.”