The life of Olusogo Odusote was snatched from us by the surprising hands of death that chilling morning of July 25, 2015. Sogo, as we call him, was one of the eight people who died in the careless chlorine gas leak at the Laminga, Jos, waterworks on that fateful day. We recall the memories of a great life every day since Sogo passed on.
My last moments with Sogo was on July 14, 2015, on a farmland where I was working in Vom, near Jos. On that day, I had picked Sogo from the University of Jos Campus to the farm site in Vom where I wanted to take the advantaged of that rare occasion of our being in Jos at the same time to show him the work I was doing on the farm. Sogo was a lecturer in Physics at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State, and was putting finishing touches to his PhD dissertation in his work on the effect of tin mining and attendant radioactivity in the process of mining on the environment at UniJos. Driving across the city, and passing through the Rayfields area of Jos, Sogo keenly showed me spots where he had taken samples for his research analyses and the suggestions he had made for the remediation and mitigation of negative effects of the mining processes on the environment. We soon parted after Sogo saw the farm I had taken him to that day. Unknown to me, that was the last of him I was going to see on this side of eternity. I had travelled abroad immediately after that encounter only to be told while away that Sogo had passed on, some few days after, in that unfortunate incident at the waterworks.
In a sense, Sogo died as a warrior. He was an ardent enthusiast for a sustainable environment. This informed the choice of his PhD research quest. Unfortunately, he died in circumstances that showed how we mishandle the environment as a people and how we often disrespect the sanctity of human lives. If Sogo had had the slightest imagination that he was sleeping near a death trap called a waterworks installation, he would have proffered steps to deal with the challenges therein. He would not have rested until he was sure that the dangers of death were removed from this waterworks that should otherwise provide living water. Sogo was such a practical man. He would construct contrivances to solve problems often. When he could not get some equipment to carry out part of the analyses required in his PhD research, he got into the market and on scrap heaps to assemble components that he coupled together to get his results.
Sogo leaves us with many lessons about life and death. At his burial rites, one man who observed proceedings and was taken by the achievements of a relatively short life (56 years) could not help but ask what more were to be expected if he had lived double that age. Indeed, it is not about how long we live but how well. Also, it may not be easily recalled now that the Jos chlorine leakage was one of the early human life catastrophes that this current government faced after its inception in May 2015. There were committees set up both at the state and national levels to look into the matter. No report was made public on this ugly incident since. Could government have been so careless about human lives? The death of any Nigerian due to an avoidable cause is the reduction of every other living Nigerian in a very spiteful manner that must be resisted. The continuing spates of careless deaths around the city of Jos since Sogo died there and the attendant human displacements are far from what Sogo’s life ideals were all about. He would have agreed that a displacement of any Nigerian due to violence must be seen as, at least, a negative shift in the wellbeing of every other Nigerian anywhere else. It is striking that we remember Sogo three years after, just at about the same time a team of young footballers and their coach who got trapped in a cave in Thailand were so graciously rescued in a country that vividly demonstrated her value for human lives. It is an opportunity to sound another wake up call for Nigeria to value the lives of her citizens, as Sogo did, in more meaningful ways.
Three years have gone so quickly after Sogo’s death but the lessons of a life so well and so constructively lived remain. I am personally reminded by Sogo’s life to live everyday remaining in my life with purpose and considerations for value addition. Sogo was my immediate junior brother, therefore, I realise that every day I live now is simply in extra time!
We are thankful for Sogo’s family that God has kept so well since he passed on. We appreciate the courage and fortitude God has given Sogo’s wife, Pat, and his children as they carry on with life after his passing. Our prayer is that God’s grace on them will not wane.
Sogo was such a gem, such a gift. We appreciate the opportunity of sharing his life. We treasure the examples of his character. We will, at God’s time, meet again to part no more.
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