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16 Dec Written by  Japheth Omojuwa

The Ife Ojikutu That Never Was

On Wednesday the 11th of December, I lost a very dear friend of mine, Ife Ojikutu. Her Twitter handle was @RoyalAmebo. We became friends in September when out of nowhere she offered to let me watch a Premier League football match via Skype with her. I followed her and thanked her for the gesture. I was then taken aback when she said she didn’t watch football herself. She said she just needed something to get my attention. That in itself was not a new thing as I had come to get used to such levels of desperation from people on social media.

I was impressed by her kindness but, of course turned down her gesture. I didn’t watch the match over Skype with her because I just felt it would never be right to put anyone through two hours of skyping a football match they’d not watch themselves. Despite not taking up the offer, her kindness made a lasting impression.

We became friends on Twitter. She was obsessed with me and she never hid it, and she expressed that virtually everyday. At first it was scary and unbelievable, then I got used to it. She’d take on everyone who came at me on twitter and would encourage me over and over again. She really was an inspiration. I finally got sucked in when she said she had kidney issues and often lived in pain. That was the moment my foolishness entered the point of no return. My empathy was in full swing for her. This was especially because this person radiated a lot of energy and positivity on her timeline.

I was inspired by the fact that someone in so much pain could make a lot of people laugh despite her own problems. When the “go and die” incident between Governor Oshiomhole and the Edo widow came up, she encouraged me to do something for the widow and promised a N100, 000 donation. I was touched. I am sold out for kindness myself but kind people often inspire me. By this time, my fear was not to betray my values as a young person and end up betraying my young Nigerian believer. I needed to send the donations to the Edo widow so started pressing my dear friend. She promised to pay in two days.

Two days later I came on Twitter and I saw “RIP @RoyalAmebo” and shock gripped me. I made phone calls to mutual friends and discovered her brother had sent an email to one of them confirming her death. She died in Maryland, United States. Ife’s death shook everyone and people poured their emotions into eulogizing her. Whatever plans Ife had was working.

Then I got a call from one of my closest friends and ally. His call was simple enough, “Japh, I need to tell you something and I hope you don’t take it wrongly. Can you take yourself away from your emotions and take a second look at this your friendship with the dead Ife Ojikutu?”

It was as though these words had a magical effect on me. I started seeing all the gaps I should have seen all along. The person had practically begged to be my PA in Lagos for my November engagement. It just happened that she left Lagos two days before my arrival for an emergency treatment. She wept when she discovered she would not be around while I was in Lagos. I shrugged it off. I was too busy living my life, traveling around, writing articles and being a gentleman to realize that this person who was so obsessed with me was too good to be true. I just kept seeing gaps that would have ordinarily alerted me to what was obviously an attempt to get me sucked in and become great friends with this person.

It turned out that Ife Ojikutu never died. That’s because she never existed. She was the creation of a sociopath or possibly a con wo(man). While she never asked me for money, there is a chance she – the character – must have duped others. Most Nigerians, being their hypocritical selves, will deny that she fooled them too. Those ones are only fools in denial. I am not ashamed to say I was fooled. It takes admitting this fact to truly pick all the lessons in this experience. I was a big fool. I am not invincible.

Whoever created the Ife Ojikutu character is a genius. S/he worked me out and had me sucked in. At first I was sad, then angry but now I am just glad for the many lessons learnt. I have never been afraid of losing or failing at anything, I just make sure I never to fail twice. As for Ife Ojikutu, our script has only just begun. This is not the end, I promise you.