By Olusoga Owoeye
Senator Babafemi Ojudu is many things to many people. To his journalist friends he is a mentor, to the military dictatorship he fought against, he is a trouble maker, to his comrades in the struggle he is a bold and master tactician, to conservative politicians, Ojudu is a difficult character to work with, to his fellow progressive he is a strategist who understand the game. To me Babafemi Ojudu is an unbending ideologue, a bold and calculating strategist, a deep and intelligent man, a thinker and patriotic Nigerian.
Here is a man who practiced journalism for 30 years when journalists were the moulders of public opinion and the defenders of public good. He was at the barricade at the peak of the battle against brutal military dictatorship and was the founder and progenitor of guerilla journalism in Nigeria.
Babafemi Ojudu was in the thick of every ‘conspiracy’ against dictatorship and bad governance in Nigeria and almost paid with his life but for divine intervention.
For this proud Ekiti man, loyalty and integrity is a daily uniform, he breathes it and lives it. One of the profound qualities I admire in his leadership at the Ekiti Rebirth Organisation is his love for intellectual debate and unmistakable thirst for clear direction in decision making.
Babafemi Ojudu is an unusual politician and journeying with him in politics is quite easy because you know where he stands on all issues. He has a well defined boundary and won’t shift unless you advance a more powerful and convincing argument.
To him politics is nothing without the delivery of good governance to the masses of our people and you can see that in the way and manner our organization, ERO, ran its gubernatorial campaign during the 2018 election cycle in Ekiti. We presented the most clear agenda to our people and refused to play the traditional politics of brigandage. We were the only political group in Ekiti without enforcers and thugs. We took so many different positions influenced by the Lead Compatriot and pulled out of the race when it was discovered that the buccaneers have gone ahead to ambush the people.
Ojudu is man of modest desire, ambitious but reflective. In one of our regular discussions about the direction of Nigeria and our party, one day, in 2020, I had asked him a question and his answer was
“That will require snitching on Asiwaju and no ambition will make me do that”.
His loyalty to his leader Tinubu and his boss Yemi Osinbajo and his unarguable belief in the possibilities of the Nigerian nation is a quality that many of us his friends and followers admire greatly in him.
In the course of writing this piece, I saw a Press Release by Otunba Kunle Olajide, the Secretary of the Yoruba Council of Elders YCE where he said ‘Igboho does not represent Yoruba’ and I quickly remember how he (Babafemi Ojudu) called to share with me a Release titled “Sunday Igboho I knew” he was about to make in the early days of this so called secessionist agenda.
I read through it and we agreed it should go public after some fine tuning. Within 1 hour of that public statement it has had over 200 shares on his Facebook page. One thing I recognized was that at the point where we agreed it can go public, he knew it was a big risk and we highlighted it but instead of doing what other politicians in his position would have done, we agreed to send it out.
We both agreed that it is in the best interest of our people and Nigeria to take a position at that moment. While the Release had a wide acceptance among the majority of our people who commended his boldness, some were angry and felt offended. Secessionist sympathizers were raging but what they could not attack was the inherent truth and the indestructible facts that were presented.
It was a week of uncertainty for most of our leaders in the SW but Ojudu read the future and decide to deep a knife into the balloon of political banditry masquerading as ethnic nationalism. Today, when I look back I knew only a man of rare courage could take such a dangerous step at the risk of his own politics. But we all agreed that truth shall prevail.
And today, every reasonable Yoruba have seen what he saw then and are now able to make statements.
That is Babafemi Ojudu for you.
On behalf of the entire family of the Ekiti Rebirth Organization, I wish you a happy birthday and more years of service to our country Nigeria and the good people of Ekiti.