Two weeks after he was arrested and detained last August, Ricky Daniel Oikhena, the teenager who hid in the wheel compartment of an Arik Air flight from Benin to Lagos, cried out that he was tired of staying in custody and demanded to go home.
The 13-year stowaway, obviously, preferred to be reunited with members of his family, than remain in company of his hosts, the State Security Service (SSS).
In September, while fielding questions from newsmen at the Government House, Benin, Daniel expressed delight with the VIP treatment he was receiving but reiterated his desire to be with his relatives.
Speaking further, he stated that he did not know that he took a risk when he hid in an airplane’s wheel compartment.
“I will not do it again; I regret it,” he said in a calm tone.
“I want to go home, I am tired. I will be happy to train as an Engineer.”
He added that “Even on the return trip to Benin and at this present place, I am treated well with good food, but since school has resumed, I want to go home.”
His case which drew both national and international attention prompted the state chief Executive, Adams Oshiomhole, to act.
The governor, during the visit of Mr. George Uriesi, Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and his team said “Without meaning to encourage anyone else, we decided to support him by sending him to one of the top secondary schools in Edo State that is owned by the government.
“The reason for opting for a boarding school is that we think that they need to closely watch him which his parents could not do.
“He is an intelligent young man with uncommon challenges, but one that has a vision. We had him examined by people who should know and the result confirmed that he is normal.”
Aside the gesture by Edo government, some organisations and individuals also made monetary donation to Daniel, with offers to assist his family in possible ways.
But weeks after he resumed as a boarding house student at the Edo College, Benin, there is a concern: Daniel is battling an implication of the desperate action he took.
The teenager is now at the risk of going deaf as he usually hears strange loud noise.
A visit to him by Saturday Independent, reveals that Daniel persistently struggles with loud inner noise, especially in the night.
Upon the development, the school authority was been notified they responded swiftly by taking him to the state government-owned Stella Obasanjo Hospital.
But Daniel has also appealed to be relocated to another school where his identity would not be unknown.
According to him, this had become imperative because his seniors at Edo College were fond of taunting him with the stowaway incident.
On the other hand, his mother, Evelyn lamented pressures from her estranged husband and others who frequently requested for money since Governor Oshiomhole gave her N5million to take care of her kids and recover from the fire incident that saw her hairdressing salon razed six months ago.
Commenting on Daniel’s condition, Dr. Patrick Okundia, Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) consultant and Head of the Department at the hospital, said checks have been carried out.
“He was examined and we assessed his ear, nose and throat. We carried out several clinical tests on his ears. After that, the result showed that while there were some level of injuries on the nerve of the inner ear – the cochlear nerve.
“You must understand that there is what is called noise exposure on its own. Noise exposure can be divided into sudden blast or persistent exposure to a not too loud noise.
“This lad was in between. The noise from the engine of the plane on its own is deafening. To have been exposed to that for a persistent period of time, for more than 30 minutes, one would expect some level of irreversible damage to the inner ear. The management wants to see how we can either slow the process of damage or arrest it.
“But we may have challenge in reversing the already damaged ones. That is the situation we have with Daniel. He has been on medication. We have tried to apply some other maneuvers to improve the function of his ears.
“The best we have done was to prevent it from getting worse. But we have not been able to achieve complete reversal which to me looks very difficult. Most damages to nerves are irreversible. You cannot grow a new nerve once it is damaged. It’s a bit unfortunate but we still give thanks to God that he is alive.
“May be with persistent medication and with time some level of healing may take place. That could reduce the seriousness of the noise but as it is, the issue of noise in the ear has some other side effects in terms of psychological. It is also having some level of depression on him. We just pray that it doesn’t degenerate to any neurological, psychological problems for him.”
“The lesson learnt is that for every action there is always a reaction. He may have done the wrong thing and he may have been pardoned by the people and the government but nature has not completely forgiven him and so that irreversible damage is there.”
The medical practitioner also disclosed that in some cases where drugs are not able to take care of the noise in the ear, other supportive therapy like the ear maskers are used.
He said that in such instances, such patients are told to adapt to situations where an exogenous source creates the noise outside that would end up dampening the noise they hear inside.
Source: Daily Post