On Wednesday, January 19, 2022, driving from Ogba to Oregun, I passed Agidingbi Road and turned left beside the Mobil Petrol station, carefully looking out to ensure that I did not beat the traffic lights. Before I could blink, having checked that I was clear to go, there were three (3) Policemen in front of me telling me that I had indeed beaten the lights. Before I could say jack!!, one of them was in my car and the others were shouting take him to the task force office he must pay N150k fine. I was so overwhelmed with emotion, stupefied by the situation, and apprehensive for the injustice about to be done to me, that I just burst out crying. Okay okay, I wasn’t really crying. Hmmm…..you would think that the humiliating tears of this whimpering 55-year-old man with white, grey, brown, and black beards will move the policeman, fully kitted in a riot, or is it anti-riot gear, into compassion. No such luck. As we drove toward their task force office, God spoke to me and told me to change it for him…….wait a minute….I am getting there. I switched to tribal sentiments, having sensed that he was an Edo man, in fact from my Owan West LGA. I was right. Within 30 seconds, we were heading back to the point I was taken from, and we had become brothers. A minute or two later, I was free from the offense I was accused of but did not commit.
During the session with President Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR, on Saturday, January 22, 2022, two things he said stuck with me. I paraphrase…..“Nigeria does not need Tribesmen, Nigeria needs Statesmen”. As seemingly simple or innocuous as it sounds, it is a TRUTH and an indictment on us all. Nigeria is full of tribesmen. This is the bane of society and the country at large and therefore justice is so hard to find. No Justice, No Equity, No Peace, No Unity, No Progress.
I have vowed to myself to stop asking people for their state of origin and instead to ask for a state of residence. God help me. We should be able to vie for the office where we live and have invested our time energy and resources. At the very least, define the length of time to qualify to vie for a political or representative office.
The second thing that stuck with me was OBJ’s continued mention of the lack of continuity in governance at all levels. The resultant effect is the abundance of abandoned projects, strewn across the country. If we realize that some people are visioners and some are executors, then maybe we can coalesce and run with some people’s vision for Nigeria with a collective focus. We cannot all have our names on plaques for project commissioning.
If only we can stop and be more patriotic, knowing that there is no other country but this our beloved Nigeria. Not all of us have the privilege or convenience of dual citizenships.
Going through the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) over the 21st to 23rd January 2022 weekend, it was evident that The Man, I have to reference him in first letter caps, was born to lead and born to serve.
His meticulous preservation of records from yesteryears is commendable. How does someone keep over 7 million documents/records over a period of almost 85 years? It is simply mind-boggling and it shows someone who knew that he had a mission and was preparing for it.
I had previously been ambivalent about OBJ – successes, and failures….and there are lots of both in my humble opinion. I have however developed a deep and healthy respect for him….if only for his altruistic nationalist disposition as well as he never says die approach to life. He is the epitome of the expression WeMoovee. This is evidenced by the abundance of artifacts available for view at OOPL, which tells the story of his indomitable strength of character. In that little space in time, Nigeria is better for having Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
So, on the journey, I will summarise it this way.
- The most fantastically amazing group of people who brought colour, character, laughter, intellect and fun to the entire experience. This trip cannot be forgotten in a hurry.
- The tour of OOPL gave us a view of Baba’s past, his present, his legacy. He has bequeathed a national treasure for us all to cherish.
- The 2-hour interactive session with OBJ, gave us an insight into his essence. His wonderful persona – humble and almost shy, jocular, engaging, strong, articulate, clear in thought and still resolute in purpose.
- The networking session on Sunday was ice cream sundae. The purposeful interactions with other delegates focusing on professional engagements was awesome.
It is hard to single any one of the delegates out, so I will just say thank you to everyone. You were all a blessing to me.
Special thanks however will go to Vitalis Ortese; MD OOPL. You are still making wishes come true. If you know, you know!!!
I most definitely recommend a visit to OOPL to everyone. Very well worth the time spent there.