By Alex Adekunle James
This is a tribute to the Distinguished on the occasion of his 60th birthday.
The words that’ll slip naturally onto the lips of anyone who knows and attempts to describe Senator Ojudu would be a simple, pleasant, dogged, honourable, witty, sociable, a political encyclopedia, a family man and one of the finest writers you’ll ever come across.
I have never seen a love for country so deep as what Senator Ojudu’s struggles portrays, especially during his fight against Military rule in Nigeria. Just listening to his story always sets fire in my soul.
Most inspiring for me was the event that led to his capture when he was jailed by the Abacha government for 9 months and kept in solitary confinement for publishing an article that exposed the deep corruption by the military administration.
Immediately after publishing the article, one would have thanked God for his escape, as he was in another African country for a conference and was warned and begged to leave for the United States from there and not to return to Nigeria because he had been declared wanted.
Sen. Ojudu, in the face of impossible odds displayed dazzling courage and insisted on returning to Nigeria, especially because he was a proverbial shepherd that couldn’t leave his sheep scattered. He needed to provide the much needed, at that time, leadership for his fellow activists/Journalists to keep them afloat.
He was picked up just at the boarder, suffered great ordeal, yet kept his spirit high. After his release at the death of Abacha, one would have thought that was the end of activism for Sen. Ojudu, but it was just the beginning.
Another trait of the Sen Ojudu that blows my mind was something his father was also famous for; the noble and selfless act of being in the background while deciding and pulling his weight around enthroning competent and honest leaders and dethroning clueless and dishonest ones.
When an Oba was to be appointed, Sen. Ojudu’s father’s voice was one of the most influential in deciding who the next king would be. Even though he was not a kingmaker in any official capacity, nor was he on the council of chiefs. His endorsement was highly sought after and was a huge determinant of who became Oba.
For instance, there was a particularly memorable incident. When the village was going to pick a successor to Oba Aladesanmi, the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti in the early 80s, there were two candidates. One was qualified but not educated while the other was a lawyer who was popular in the town. Sen. Ojudu’s dad campaigned vehemently for the lawyer who happened to be his friend. He rallied the youth, women and children, evangelizing the lawyer as though he was the Christ who would deliver them from all their problems. The lawyer won the throne and the other family never forgave the Ojudu family for ruining his chance till date.
We have seen Senator Ojudu walk in that path over the decades, as seen in how he organized the impeachment of Fayose, how he brought the current governor, Fayemi into politics, among other instances.
Most of all for me is how passionate Sen. Ojudu is about the next generation of Nigerians getting it right to gain entry into the political space.
There have been great efforts in recent times, some of which you’ll see and hear pretty soon, to bring the Nigerian youth demography out of their political misery and bridge the gap between their good intentions and actual win into office.
On this note, I wish a pillar of Nigeria’s democracy, a Kingmaker and a living legend a very happy 60th birthday.
May the rest of your life be the best of your life, Sir.