Call him an enigma, a trailblazer, or a great achiever, you may not be entirely wrong.
Sir Barrister Geoffrey Asadu is a lawyer with a difference. Ignoring his physical challenges of blindness he gained admission into University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus and came out with good grade. For more than two decades, he has been practising law and has not lost any case in the court of law. WITHIN NIGERIA spoke with him where he took our reporter down memory lane on his journey of life.
I was born on February 25, 1962. I hail from Isiakpu community, Nsukka local government area of Enugu state. One thing you should know is that I was not born blind. I was already six years old when all of a sudden I became blind. Before then, I was already dealing on yam tubers at Ogige main market to help my parents augment their source of income as they were not all that financially stable.
How the blindness came about
The blindness came as a result of severe headache that started in 1976 when I was fourteen years. The headache lasted for about three days. As the headache continued, I was taken to one Akulue hospital, Nsukka where I was administered with one drug by one Dr. Achufusi, the owner of the hospital(now late). I was given an injection by Dr. Achufusi for three days.
However, on the third morning, I was supposed to go to hospital but I was surprised to discover that I couldn’t see again. I became totally and automatically blind. I got up that morning but couldn’t find my sight on again. I groped and started shouting that I wasn’t seeing again. I was rushed to Bishop Shanahan Hospital, Nsukka, UNTH Enugu and Parklane Enugu. But no way. We even went as far as Kano state but all to no avail.
My sight couldn’t come back again till today. My father did everything he could to make me see again but it was no longer possible. When later I told Dr. Achufusi that many people were of the opinion that the injection he administered on me might have caused my blindness, he became so much worried and unease.
Life into blindness
Having discovered that I have become totally blind, I felt so much devastated. I almost lost hope in life. However, in 1979 I started my primary school at school for the blind, Oji River, then Anambra state.
At first, I was reluctant to go there but later, I had to go there. I did brail reading and writing. In 1981, I passed common entrance and was posted to Saint Teresa’s College, Nsukka where I did my WASSCE in 1986 with flying colours. I have been using brail machine,type writer and tape recorder all through my years and even now.
In 1987, I did JAMB and got admission into Faculty of Law University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus(UNEC). In any case, I deferred the admission because of my employment with Anambra state Social welfare. I started the study in 1988 and finished in 1992, had my Law school in Lagos in 1993 and finally called to bar.
Life as a blind lawyer and social welfare worker
It has not been easy. It is not supposed to be easy as a matter of fact. There has been a lot of challenges. But, I don’t have any regrets. I have not lost any case in the court since I started practising more than twenty five years now.I am feeling so much fulfilled. I don’t think there is anything I could have achieved better or more if I was not blind.
I am married with seven children, two of whom are now graduates. I have built two duplexes in my village here. I have private car, so to speak. Politically, I am also active. I am a member of PDP. Currently I am the President-General of Enugu state Education and Social Development workers Association. I rose from the level of Welfare Assistant to Director. So, it is has been challenging but I don’t feel shortchanged. I am fulfilled.
Challenges of physically challenged persons
Physically challenged persons pass through a lot of things. However, let me advise not to see their condition as an excuse to degrade themselves. It is not a certificate for them to start begging on the streets and engage in other undignified activities. Let them look into themselves and see what they can do for themselves. They should start small business or any craft rather than begging.
At the same time, I wish to appeal to the government at all levels to look into the problems and challenges of physically challenged persons. They should see them as people that need special attention in the society.
They should put them in their scheme of things like employment, empowerment and appointment. They should not neglect them. At the same time, NGOs, good spirited individuals and even churches can lend a helping hand to the physically challenged persons. So many of them are geniuses but because they don’t see anybody to give them a helping hand, they become useless in the society. I always wonder what I would have been if I didn’t get formal education. That’s what is happening to tens of thousands of physically challenged persons in our society.
Death of my wife
My wife died about two years ago. She was a civil servant, reaching the level of principal at Science, Technical and Vocational School Management Board, STVSMB, Enugu state. Life has not been easy for me since her death but I thank God for everything.