By Magnus Abe
Sunday was the 24th of May 2020, I turned 55. What a day it turned out to be. Even before 12 midnight family and friends started calling in and sending messages and prayers full of love and good wishes.
My plan for my birthday was simple, sleep early which I did, wake up early in the morning, go to my private sitting room and spend the day on my couch and on my phone. I wanted to personally respond to every text, reply every post and answer every call.
I got up and followed my plan, determined to surprise my friends and well wishers with my resolve to respond personally to everyone.
Alas, that was not to be, just as I tried to settle down to deal with my calls and goodwill messages my phone crashed, it just simply went off and like Humpty Dumpty there was nothing I could do to revive my old iPhone, in the end I gave up on the phone; or the phone gave up on me (depending on whose side you are on).
Later in the day a friend gave me a new iPhone, but I could not get around to setting it up till much later in the night. So if I missed your call, or skipped your post or did not respond to your text, it was that phone.
It was for that reason that I could not join my family members in our surprise zoom call (Sorry folks, but surprises in the zoom world will always be 50/50).
Later I saw a few angry text messages from friends who desperately tried to reach me just to say happy birthday and could not.
I practiced my new 55 year mature attitude on them by first sending them a text to say “never condemn a man without first hearing from him” before calling them to talk about my phone wahala. They just ended up loving me more.
As acceptable as my apology may be I did miss that personal touch, having given up even a modest gathering in obedience to NCDC rules, the virtual party would have been a real fun part of my day, listening to all those voices trying to sing happy birthday to me, both the croaking baritones of my freinds and the Nightingales out there like my daughter’s nine year old friend Adaeze who still insisted on singing to me this morning.
We give God the glory, without the phone my day changed, a special friend, a mentor and a big brother invited us over and celebrated my beloved wife and I, very NCDC compliant.
It was by all accounts a beautiful and memorable day with my children bringing me hand made cards, my wife giving me a hug practically every ten minutes, Cutting my cakes over and over.
It was a memorable day on a totally Coro compliant budget, even without the phone, my day was fulfilling.
The absence of my phone changed the trajectory of my day instead of being a couch potato, I became an active vibrant birthday boy. It proves that things can happen but we still have a choice. We choose how we react.
A lot of Nigerians were asking me about politics, let me assure everyone that I remain irrevocably committed to a united and inclusive Nigeria, built by Nigerians.
Like I always say, great nations and great cities are not created or made, rather they are built by the sweat, sacrifice, hard work, and cooperation of their citizens.
Nigerians can do the same. No matter what happens, no matter what the naysayers say, my resolve is that we have a country and it is our responsibility to make it our own paradise on earth.
We cannot afford to do otherwise. If we fail, it will simply be because we could not find enough believers to build Nigeria . Every other reason for failure is a lie. We should never give up on our country or give in to naysayers. If others can do it and are still working hard to build their country so can we.
I did not get a chance to say happy birthday to my special birthday mates, my own sister in law Mrs Eva Abe, the wife of the Governor of Rivers State Hon Justice Suzette Wike, my brother Hon George Tolofari, my Oga Mr Francis Bruce, and all other friends with whom I share this special day.
You all know that I never forget our special bond, Sunday was no exception as you were all in my prayers.
Like I said, things can happen to you in life but no matter what happens you still hold the ace because, las las you get to decide how you chose to react.
Over the past 54 years a lot of things have happened to me but I chose to accept every experience as a blessing, and I have been blessed and enriched by that choice.
I am grateful to the Almighty God not just for the privilege of life, but for the special privilege of love.
I am grateful to my wife, my children, family members, friends, political associates, traditional rulers, religious leaders, political opponents, your outpouring of goodwill was indeed overwhelming.
I feel particularly loved and appreciated, I have nothing to give you all in return except to say thank you.
I thank you for the time and resources you expended, the newspapers adverts, the radio jingles, posts and encomiums so generously displayed, I am forever indebted.
It is my hope and prayer that the good God that never sleeps, the one to whom all mankind turns in their hour of need, will send each and everyone of you someone to bring you that special joy, the same way he has used you to bring joy to my family and I. Stay blessed and stay safe.
- Senator Magnus Ngei Abe represented Rivers South East in the Senate.