Stories of a rise from grass to grace, to many people, may be a case of a happy ending in movies and works of fiction. But for Ebube Essien-Garricks, that popular saying is now just as real as the air she breathes.
The 27-year-old student of the Rivers State College of Health Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, is N64m richer. She emerged the winner of a Cessna 182T aircraft in the MTN Ultimate Wonder promo after a draw held in Lagos on November 13.
Expectedly, Essien-Garricks is still excited about the outcome of the lottery she says she could not remember taking part in.
“I was surprised when I was called by a family friend that I had won because I thought it was not real,” she says. “Before then, I had never played any game concerning MTN. Ironically my SIM card was blocked at the time. I had a code on my phone which I forgot and in the process of trying to decode it, my line was blocked.”
She adds that her family friend’s number was the last contact she made before her line was disconnected and so she was contacted through him.
“When he told me, I just told him to forget about it that it was the handiwork of 419 people. But later a lady called me from MTN to confirm it. I then asked her to unblock my line to convince me. She did so and it was at that point that I realised my fortune,” she says.
The unassuming young lady, who hails from Akinima in Ahoada West, Rivers State, is a 300-level student of radiography. She discloses that she had never dreamt of owning so much money in her lifetime, coming from a modest family background of eight children, where she is the seventh.
For her, however, winning N64m could only be a divine act, perhaps a manifestation of her full name, Ebubeomiso, meaning ‘the glory of God’.
She says, “I have never fainted in my life before, so when they called the amount I did not faint. I just became thirsty, I kept asking for water and I kept smiling, again and again. I thought I was dreaming but with the kind of people I have been shaking hands with, people hugging me, asking to take photographs with me, I think it’s an act of God. I can imagine how many numbers they played and mine was singled out, just like that.”
In these times, when owning a private jet is becoming the norm in Nigeria, some people may wonder why Essien-Garricks opted for cash equivalent instead of the airplane.
“If I took the plane, where would I park it?” she asks rhetorically. “I just told them it was the cash I really wanted and nothing else. I was not persuaded to take cash. If it is something I worked for, I would argue but I never laboured for it. They said either the plane or the cash equivalent and I chose the cash.”
However, Essien-Garricks is not in a hurry to spend the money. She will let it ‘breathe some fresh air in the bank’ while she completes her education, she says.
Prior to her winning the lottery, she says, she planned to work as a radiographer after school but with the change of status comes her change of plans. “Now I will buy machines and work for myself. I will be an employer of labour,” she states.
She also plans to give her aging parents and siblings a ‘new life’. “My family needs a new level. This money is for them, not me only. God just wants to use me to bless the family so everybody has a share in it,” she enthuses.
When the news of her winning the lottery broke online, some comments about ‘the lucky guy’ in her life came up — with some people advising whoever she is in a relationship with not to let go. But Essien-Garricks says she is single and when she is ready for marriage, she would not go for anyone who is interested in her money.
“I know what love is,” she notes. “People are calling to ask my parents if I am married, some others are giving them promises. Even on the Internet, I don’t have a Facebook account but someone has opened one in my name. If anyone is coming because of my money, I promise the person that he will not get a dime because I will make sure he doesn’t.”
On the current Nigerian Communications Commission’s ban of promos and lotteries from network providers, Essien-Garricks appeals that government should lift the ban and checkmate them.
“The fact is that lives are being changed through this. The most important thing is, if they promise, they should fulfil it,” she says.