Raheem Akingbolu writes that though the re-appointment of Senator Babafemi Ojudu, by President Muhammadu Buhari as Special Adviser on Political Affairs didn’t come to many as a surprise, it is also a positive positive signal to Nigerians who genuinely desire to serve the people
His life is that of an activist, journalist and lately politician, but Babafemi Ojudu’s career path has been broadly defined by hard work, bluntness and zero tolerance for ‘half-measure’. For Ojudu, no challenge is unsurmountable -not even the incursion of military into Nigeria politics, which he joined others to fight tooth and nail until 1999 when Nigeria returned to democratic rule after decades of military rule.
Of course, the attributes have also put him in trouble many times. Though undaunted because of his conviction in what he believes, Ojudu is one of the most misunderstood politicians around. Till date, many political watchers, especially in his home state, Ekiti, believe the former newspaper editor would have gone farther in politics and contributed more to national growth if he was not as blunt as he is. Unlike politicians who say what they can never do, Ojudu sees beyond his nose and presents to his people with what is real and possible.
As a senator, this Obafemi Awolowo University graduate was said to have held a meeting with some of his constituents in Ekiti Central one afternoon and promised to support them to grow in agriculture. His people who were expecting handouts murmured but Ojudu delivered the message. Though he later yielded and supported the politicians in various ways, he went ahead to establish two farms; one in Niger State and the other in Ekiti to demonstrate what he preached. Today, many Ekiti youths, who have seen the truth in his message, have gone back to farm.
Beyond this, those who know Senator Ojudu from his days in the university attest to his doggedness, hard work and loyalty. Given his commitment to duty while serving as Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters in the last administration, one can safely say he was assessed based on his dedication and commitment to duty. Beyond political issues, which he was hired to oversee, Ojudu’s face and voice was at strategic places to present the narrative of the Buhari administration as it is. The journalist in him came to the fore and remained aglow till after the election. If there is anything that stunned friends of the administration and unsettled the opposition, it was Ojudu’s quick adjustment to digital marketing and social media which he explored maximally.
While the campaign for the election lasted, many people insisted that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, was the star boy of the campaign and the chief mobilizer. It was at this time that the strength of Ojudu as a political activist was also noticed as he stood by his principal, day and night. It was not a surprise to many that the journalist turned politician was one of the few aides of the Vice President that were with him when the helicopter conveying the country’s No. 2-man crash-landed in the Kabba area of Kogi State at the peak of the campaign.
Before Ojudu’s reappointment was announced few, many thought he would be given a higher responsibility, considering his tenacity and commitment to duty. The announcement ended the speculation, President Buhari with members of his kitchen cabinet are believed to have been so touched by the performance of his erstwhile adviser that he extended the jurisdiction of the office to include community engagement.
That Ojudu will perform greatly in his new office is like stating the obvious if one considers his antecedent as a scholar and journalist, with a penchant for organising people. His social capability and network of friends and political associates will also a play role in re-establishing him as a mobilizer and stabilizer. As a graduate of English and Political Science, this former senator combines the deep knowledge of theory of language and politics which have continued to shape his writings and political engagement.
As a courageous journalist, it’s still on record that Ojudu, who started writing for African Concord magazine, resigned in 1992, in protest of a request by MKO Abiola, the publisher, to apologise to the then President Ibrahim Babangida. He refused to apologise over a piece critical of the military regime. In 1993, he and other former workers at the African Concord established The News magazine, with Ojudu as its first Managing Editor. With his clout and influence in the media, engaging the public will no doubt be an easy task.
As he’s set to begin a fresh journey in this administration, Ojudu should not forget that though the job appears beautiful to the eyes; it’s laced with high expectation, challenges and political maneuvering that makes the road rough.
Ojudu is one of the most misunderstood politicians around. Till date, many political watchers, especially in his home state, Ekiti, believe the former newspaper editor would have gone farther in politics and contributed more to national growth if he was not as blunt as he is