Rivers State Government plans to celebrate Miss Ngozi Mary Kekwaaru, 32, a staff of Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos who, during her duty last week, found and returned $70,000 (about N50 million) left behind by a guest after checking out of the room.
Another celebration lined up is by the Chairman of her local government council, Emouha LGA of Rivers State, who will also host their daughter to honour her integrity. Interestingly, there has been kudos, special treatment and warm wishes for Ngozi after the remarkable display of honesty.
The customer, who wishes to remain anonymous, accidentally left behind a bag in one of Eko Hotels’ suites. The hotel management was said to have promptly initiated the process of returning the money to its rightful owner. It is learnt that the guest was contacted and the money was returned in full. The hotel management said this act of goodwill had not only restored the guest’s faith in humanity but also highlighted Eko Hotels’ commitment to ethical conduct and customer service.
The General Manager, Eko Hotels & Suites, Danny Kioupouroglo said, “The incident is a testament to the honesty and integrity of our staff. At Eko Hotels and Suites, we pride ourselves on our commitment to ethical conduct and exceptional customer service. We believe that our staff are our greatest asset, and this incident is a testament to that belief.” That Ngozi returned the money and her exemplary integrity speaks for her and the training imbued in her.
Her whole family is in Rivers State waiting for Ngozi’s homecoming. After graduating from University of Port Harcourt where she obtained a degree in Arts, Foreign Language/Literature in 2015, she came to Lagos in search of a better life. She worked for a few companies including a hotel in Ikeja where she was in the customer service department. But she didn’t get a good paid employment for some time before joining Eko Hotels. S
he was making clothes for herself and her friends, people approached her to make clothes and wigs for them. She hasn’t been in Eko Hotels for long, she joined Eko Hotels on December 15, 2022. Just a few days away from the time she stumbled on the money and when music star Davido tweeted on Ngozi’s exemplary act, the good girl received a pat on the back.
Ngozi’s colleagues, Church, family and friends, have also celebrated her following the story trending in the social media. Apart from Davido’s Twitter exposure, it is gathered that Labour Party Presidential Candidate, Mr. Peter Obi reacted immediately when someone tagged him in Ngozi’s ‘honesty pays’ story. “Obi quickly posted it on his Instagram page and even tweeted.”
As at Wednesday, we learnt she’s to receive an outstanding award from Eko Hotels & Suites management (her employers) to reward her act of integrity. Already, the girl who works in the Guests Service Department of the hotel made the cover of the current edition of the hotel’s Newsletter. It’s obvious Nigerians indeed recognise good deeds. There has been special treatment by everybody, including her bankers (Fidelity Bank PlC.
At present, Ngozi is looking forward to a warm welcome at home (Rivers State).
On how she felt when you found the huge amount of money, she said: “How I felt? I don’t even know how I can explain it.”
Ngozi recalled that a duty call came and she went to prepare the guestroom in line with the hotel’s policy (the standard routine is for a hotel to prepare the guest room immediately a guest checks out). While preparing the room, Ngozi stumbled into a cellophane bag in the safe (guests are advised to keep their valuables in the safe in the guestroom). “I was shocked when I saw $100 bills inside that polythene bag in that safe. I had goose pimples.”
She quickly reported the incident to her superiors. Asked if it hard for you to hand over the money, she said: “Why? Is it my money? The money didn’t belong to me. I reported the incident. I was only doing my work.”
Ngozi said she didn’t even think about what happened until the incident started trending in the social media. She maintains: “I was doing my work.”
On hearing about Ngozi’s ethical action, Davido tweeted and was able to contact Ngozi.
“Davido spoke to me. I have not met Davido before or anybody that knows him. I spoke to him on the phone (WhatsApp call). Davido fulfilled his promise to me on Sunday. He sent three men to deliver the ‘promise’ ($10,000) the next day, Monday. And I prayed for him (Davido). One of the men said Davido asked them to tell me to use the money wisely.”
Davido had praised the Eko Hotels staff in their telephone conversation. According to her, Davido said, “In this time and season when things are hard and somebody can actually see that kind of money ($70,000). And you were able to return the money to the owner.”
She replied: “I’m excited. You can notice my voice has cracked. I have been singing and I have been praying and thanking God for the blessing coming to me just for doing the right thing.” What prepared her for this kind of deed? The graduate of Foreign Languages/Literature (she majored in French Language), said training is key: “In Eko Hotels, we have an induction. You’re taught the “dos and don’ts” of the job. Mrs. Dada taught us the importance of integrity, transparency and empathy. If you have empathy, you’ll definitely do the right thing. My mother and father (Dad is late) did a lot on our upbringing. My mum said when we were kids that we should not take anything that doesn’t belong to us.
She taught us contentment and of course you know what the Bible says about good deeds and gains.”
Sadly, the incident was twisted by some people. Ngozi said her senior brother, Menakai, who is a lecturer at University of Port Harcourt called her and asked “What’s going on, Ngozi? I read news about you.” And he said with an air of pride, “you did the right thing.” Immediately her brother dropped the phone, their mother who is a retired matron at Female Hotels, University of Port Harcourt also called Ngozi. “I’m impressed,” says Ngozi’s mother after listening to her story.” She said, “If she had read something otherwise she would have dealt with me herself. My mother is so proud of me.”
Ngozi listed her mother and other leading figures as her role models. She admires great women like Professor Dora Akuyili (late) and President of World Bank, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. “I also like my director here, Mrs. Iyadunni Gwadebo. She’s hardworking. When she set a goal, she makes sure she achieves it and even surpasses them.”
What next? Ngozi is full of praise for the hotel management loves her job. In fact, she’s passionate about the work culture at Eko Hotels.
“I’m seven-month-old in Eko Hotels. Eko Hotels is a safe place for staff, guests and anybody. As you know our food is good. We have seven restaurants (she likes fine dining). The staff members are well taken care of. We have staff bus. And we are provided breakfast, lunch and dinner depending on what shift you are,” she noted.
Asked how much she would invest in her family and education, she replied: “That’s personal. Well, I have put the money in a fixed deposit in a bank. I have a junior brother. I hope to assist my family with part of the money. It’s good for people to see the reward of integrity. I tell people don’t just do what other people are doing. Be yourself and do the right thing. They should make efforts.”