Exclusive report from Dr James Raphael
The World Wrapper Man – Amb Adjarho David Obaro landed in Onitsha by 4.00am, today October 5, 2019. He rounded up an adventure of about 650km, he started on September 18, 2019 when he set forth from Lagos to Onitsha in a partnership race with the Nigeria Copyright Commission NCC as they celebrated their 30 years of protecting creativity in Nigeria, with the theme: “CHANGING THE NARRATIVE”. In the last 17 days, he has been on the road running with a 36 yard wrapper folded into 18 yards for easy usage. His original weight as at departure time was 94 kilogram without his luggage and 107 kilogram with his luggage. He left Lagos with 52 items mostly his toiletries, balms, drugs and searchlights. He took off from NCC office in Costain at about midday and had a brief stopover at the National Stadium where he addressed the crowd about the danger of piracy and the need for Nigerians to stop piracy, after then the race continued even with the heavy rain. That was the point I pulled out with my 14 year old son, Ikemsinachukwu James, who is his official photographer for the race.
On October 5, 2019, he ran alongside thousands of international athletes and local charity runners in the first IAAF and AIMS certified first international marathon in the South-East Nigeria;the Onitsha City Marathon. The Onitsha City Marathon is organised by the Onitsha Business School.
The World wrapper concept started in the 1980s when he went to represent his father at the University of Benin. It was an Urhobo day event. At that event, he discovered that most Urhobo men were dressed in their traditional wrapper attire. He fell in love with it and then began to dress like them. After a while he eventually read about Chief Festus Okotie-Ebo and saw photos of him with his bright, long, exceptional and colourful wrappers. This singularly threw a challenge to himself that he will broke Okotie’s Ebo record with the longest wrappers in the world tied to his waist.
In the year 2003, he made it to the Guinness World Records as the man with the longest wrapper on earth with his 38 yards long wrapper, the Unity Wrapper. Though the Guinness Book of Records did not publish it in their book but they acknowledged him and noted in a letter, that they had the right to publish or not to publish in the world records. This led him into marathon crusades wearing different wrappers at different world meets for charity, to help the less-privileged in the society. He started participating and running in races all over the world: mostly long-distance marathon races. For example, in 2010 at the Bucharest international marathon, he ran with his wrapper. This is not his first run and it won’t be his last run, he did a 900km race, Lagos to Makurdi, in Benue State in 2018, drumming support for flood victims in the State.
The 900km race was scheduled for 25 days at an average of 40km/day and he took off from the FRSC Office Old toll Gate, Lagos. It was targeted at One Million steps that will be sold for One US Dollar (350 Naira) per step to economically empower as many IDPs as possible in order to make them self-dependent and useful to the society after their stay in the camp.
The Lagos-Onitsha marathon Race
On September 15, my 14 year old son ran to the sitting room to show a message from World Wrapper man that he wants my son to be his official photographer for his run from Lagos to Onitsha. I asked him if he will love to run with him and he said “YES”. I contacted my friend,the World Wrapper man who was one of the guests at the then recently concluded 100 Photo exhibition of my son and asked for details of the run. He explained to me that he will love my son to cover the take-off, but that since he will be in school, I can represent him. I thanked him and on the 18th September. I took permission for him from school and in his school uniform we landed at the Nigeria Copyright commission office at Constain.
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The young man in his school uniform joined other Media crew from the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Channels TV and NCC Media team in a Federal Road Safety van driving and recording the World Wrapper man, as he departed Lagos to Onitsha. I pulled my son out of the race as we approached Maryland and I discovered that I had lost my phone and a purse with my ATM card as I ran along. The rest is now history.
The Race Began here.
From September 18th,I started a countdown for the Amb Adjhrho David Obaro.The Journey ws tough and rough but he never gave up and in my own small way I stood by him. His first night was spent at OPIC, his second night he tried to spend the night at RCCG camp but he was denied access, as the security man said his wrapper was an inappropriate dressing, so he ran and covered more mileage and spent the around the FRSC office area. His third night was at the Noble Hotel, Ogundalu, which is at the back of United High School Ikene. His fourth night was at Ijebu Ode. On the fifth day, he has his first major security challenge when the security men at Tai Solarin University along Ijebu road, stopped him from taking pictures outside their gate and took his phone. All his efforts to explain to them that all he wanted was to use the university gate as landmark to describe his location as he was running, failed.
I spoke to the security men on the phone and they explained that they have never seen a man running with a wrapper again. So I told them to goggle about him. They delayed him to close to an hour before he was let go. The fifth night was spent in the open at the Ijebu Ode Toll gate area. The next night was spent at FAO Travellers Inn, Ijebu Ode. Although He did not run for that day, as he was so sick that he kept on vomiting and sending me all the photos, I was worried sick myself but I kept on assuring him that he will be fine. He was taken to the General hospital in Ijebu Ode, and the doctor attended to him and gave him some medications. The next day he was as fit as a horse and he left for the road, running into Itele, in Ijebu-East LGA. By noon of the same day he left Itele and made a stopover at the Atoyo Produce Control Post on the Lagos- Benin Express way. Also remembering that In 2015,World Wrapper Man was attacked in the village of Itele by a ritualist while he ran Lagos to Abuja 787km in 22days.When the night came, he spent the night somewhere close to Omowood Industry Limited Office in Km 92, Sagamu-Benin Expressway.
On the 9th day,he took off by 5.30am where he spent the night, running through the village of Oniparagha with the optimism that he may approach Ore. His race was a beautiful one with so much solidarity from the Police at check points and passersby who stopped him to take pictures. On an occasion, a police man gave him N500 to buy water. Good news all along as this kept him motivated until at about 6.48 pm,when he called me and placed the phone on speaker for me to follow up on an attack on him by some young men in the community of Omotosho.
According to their spokesman who spoke with me through speaker phone, they want to know who gave him the right to run into their community with a wrapper, why I tried to explain to him or rather them of the marathon race, I also told them that if they felt not secured with his presence, they should take him to their kabiyesi (King) or the nearest Police station. Their spokesman who claimed to be a Prince of the community told me that the Kabiyesi will not welcome him. They agreed to take him to the Police station. On their way, they informed him that the police DO, who they described as DPO; was somewhere relaxing and they took him to the relaxation place. He worked him out and told him to take a vehicle to the next major town ORE, all Amb attempt to explain to the DO did not work as he insisted.
7.20 pm, he called me to inform me that the DO of the nearest police station in Omotosho community denied him from staying in Omotosho town and insisted he should take a car to Ore, and that he made an attempt to show him his letter for the marathon but the DO refused to read it. At that point I had only one option left to ask for help and I came on Facebook and solicited for help asking anyone that has a link to the Omotosho Police station to help us talk to the DO.
Our worry was, that it was late, about 7.pm and it was dark and Amb Adjarho could site the young men who were accompanying him to the station before they saw the DO. I advised him not to move into the darkness as that may be an opportunity for them to attack him and that was when I called for help here on Facebook. The response was awesome, my inbox, my phone lines, comments and reactions. Phone contacts of the IG, the PPRO, The CP Ondo state, CP Lagos, Office of the Governor’s Security team, Office of the wife of the Governor, DPO Akure, AC Abeokuta Command, DPO Ore where all sent to me as I tried to reach out to all of them. There was SP Akin who was very helpful, he contacted ORE DPO and the same time Bar Oluwatoyin Ndidi Taiwo Ojo was also on the neck of the same ORE DPO. In fact the Bar went further to speak to the ORE DPO to help us plead with his other colleagues to be on the lookout for the world wrapper man as he continues his journey.
Help Came through.
Help eventually came, Nigerians who love what he is doing rallied round to curtail the situation on ground. The World Wrapper man was eventually taken in by the same DO Police officer who initially rejected him after he got a call from the DPO of Ore Police Station, gave him maximum protection for the night. The DO assured me of his safety when I spoke to him on the phone and tendered an apology for his initially reaction.
On this Note,we thank all who stood up for us that night, So numerous, as my line became a hotline. The next morning, the World Wrapper man was on the road again, in the rain but he kept on running and eventually he arrived Ore in the midst of heavy rainfall, he was drenched and was cold. He had stop over and had a bath in a stream along his way to Ore. He spent the night around Ore toll gate. Then next day, he spent the night at Agofure Petroleum Ltd in Otu Costain in Ondo State, they gave him a space there for the night at their car wash session. All these while,Amb DAVID Obaro has been spending nights with security (maiguard) men, sometimes in front of shops along the roads and at filling stations. On the 12th day, he landed in Edo State at about 3pm, he made a stopover at the Nigerian Police Station Ohosu, in Evbonogbon town, before heading towards Ugbogui where he eventually spent the night with a good Nigerian, after he stopped running at about 11 pm so he can get closer to Benin.
The next morning, his 13th day, he commenced the race by 5.00am running towards Benin. By 6.35am we spoke again when he was at Isoko Camp village. He ran late into the night before he stopped at the Old Toll Gate Benin. The morning of his 14th day, he was delayed a little because of the rain and when he felt the rain will not stop.He hit the road at 7.50 am, not minding the heavy rain.
On arrival at Benin city, he stopped over at Edegbe Motors, took photos with a driver that had noticed him on the road as he drove to and fro Lagos. After then he was joined by a PMAN member,Mr Muyi at Uselu market and he took him to Deep end Entertainment, where he got some refreshment and they both ran from TV road through 5 junction to new Benin market under the rain. They got to new Benin at 1:30pm in the rain and one of the music producer (Chi World Wide) offered to host him at his studio. The NCC representative arrived after 2pm with press crew from Edo Broadcasting Services who conducted their interview. His FB fan and friend Aigbokhaevbo Clementina, was on ground to welcome him too. They all ran with him from new Benin market heading to Ikpoba hills. He stopped over at Rainoil filling station and was received by the manager. He spent some time there to enable him charge his phones, power bank and torch light. With the heavy rain, he could not run deep into the night as he had earlier planned, so he spent the night at a relative.Mr Eferibaba at about 9.15 due to the bad rainy weather and its effect on him.
The next day, he ran late into the night, considering the time frame left, he stopped running at about 12.35am when he arrived the village Uvbe just before Abudu, so he spent the night at be. Uvbe Village in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo state. The home land of Queen Eghaghe, the mother of Prince Aiguobasinwin Ovonramwen (Eweka II) one time, Oba of Benin. That was the same day he had an interview with 9ja voices on Starr Channel radio United Kingdom.
By morning of the next day, he set out at about 5.40am not minding the rain, running towards Agbor in Delta State. At 9.07am, he was at the front of Lighthouse Polytechnic Office which is Km 32 to Asaba from Benin along the Expressway in Evbuonosa, Orhionmwon, Edo State.
By 1.20 pm, he was joined in the marathon run by Mr and Mrs Duru Chukwuemeka an old boy of Government College Ughellli. They drove from Onitsha to join him at Abudu. Abudu is situated in Orhionmw, Edo State. While Mrs Duru ran with him, the husband drove behind them. By 4.48 pm, he ran into Omumu Community in Agbor. He rested and by 9pm,he took off again running towards Umunede
His last lap, October 4TH 2019.By 1.49am, he was around Emoota Farms along the Asaba-Benin express road. By 02.05am, he was at Emuhu, IkaSouth, where he rested and continued in the morning hours.By noon, 12.05, he had a brief stopover at Ugo Resort were Prof Isito hosted him with some fresh coconut juice and they ran together inside the resort, before he departed.
By 4.48pm. he was in the Omumu Community in Agbor, running without looking backwards. He arrived Igbodo a town located in Ika North East LGA of Delta State by 11 pm and by 2.10 pm, he arrived in Onicha-Ugbo, a town in Aniocha North Local Government Area, Delta State. By 4.25pm after resting for a while, he left Onicha-Ugbo. At about 9pm, Mr and Mrs Duru Chukwuemeka joined him for a second time on the highway, they are driving behind him, so he uses their car light as guide, at about 12.35 am he was about 9 km to Onitsha at the junction of the Asaba International Airport
By 2.45am,he sighted the Onitsha River Niger bridge linking Asaba and Onitsha and that was the boost he needed most. He finally by the grace of God Almighty landed in Onitsha by 4.00 am and was received by Prof Segun of the Onitsha Business school, the organizers of the Onitsha city Marathon.
Exclusive Report Recorded By DrJames Raphael