Babs AjayiFriday, December 6, 2013
Gatineau, Quebec, Canada




aba Omojola! Baba Omojola! The name comes up every time and everywhere during the heady days of military dictatorship and horrible governance. He was an enigma; facially unknown to most of us and to most of the errand boys in the various juntas' state security services, but his deeds and activities fairly documented and never went unnoticed. Baba Omojola became a wanted man, a marked man by the various security agencies of the military government. Many situated him in Ibadan. Some said he was based in Kaduna. Others met him in Kano and assumed he resided there. Baba Omojola was the man who worked for all of us and remained in the services of the Nigerian people without earning a kobo from his services to us; his tireless work and devotion to the struggle to make life better, easier, liveable, and profitable went on till the very end of his life. He was in action when he answered the final home call. Service to mankind was his thing. He lived it round the clock the very same way some make the lives of Nigerians miserable round the clock.

Baba Omojola was at the end of the pole pulling it towards the people, trying to secure some respite and benefits for the Nigerian people as the thieves and looters in uniform and agbada pull the pole towards themselves and budget billions for food, limousines and foreign trips. I know what Baba Omojola would have done with the one billion naira food budget of Goodluck Jonathan's Aso Rock. Baba would have asked that the billion be used to update the operation theatre in a few teaching hospitals or used to equip the libraries of a few universities. Most brilliant minds like Baba Omojola, who earned a first class degree in Economics from the London School of Economics in 1961, readily opted for lives and careers in high-flying jobs in financial services or oil and gas in the multinational companies, but he chose a modest life and spent his time working for the socio-economic and political freedom of a nation and its people. He was the quintessential face of a struggle to make a difference, a positive difference to the well being of a denied, depraved, dehumanized, and brutalized people.

The names of the great and authentic heroes of Nigeria and its people must be preserved. The memories of these fearless and unusual men and women must be kept very close to our hearts for what they represent - selfless, hope, change, promise, and a new order. It is our duty to inform our youths about the exemplary character, great contributions, personal sacrifices, exposure of self to danger for the sake of the people and the nation, devotion and dedication to the advancement of our society, relegation of personal dreams and life and thrusting our collective dream for national development to the forefront, and consistently prepared and ready - and on the front line - to fight for the rights of the people and to demand improvements for everyone, this in the face of military brutality, arrests, harassments, torture, detentions, confinements, extra-judicial trials, and intimidations.

We would have failed to play our own small parts/roles to let the name and selfless deeds of Gani Fawehinmi, the senior advocate of the masses, Tai Solarin, the humanist and relentless fighter for fairness and equity, Bekololari Ransome-Kuti, the meticulous and tenacious strategist and defender of human rights and democracy, Ola Oni, the relentless crusader for economic justice, Eskor Toyo, the defender of workers' rights, Chima Ubani, the fearless soldier of democracy, Frank Ovie Kokori, the anti-military and progressive labour leader, and Comrade Babarinde (Baba) Omojola, the fighter from all fronts die uncelebrated and unheralded. How could we let the name of Alao Aka-Bashorun, the defender of legal and constitutional rights go unnoticed, or the name of Festus Iyayi, the devoted and consummate defender of education and unionism go uncelebrated? The bold struggle of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the iconoclast and anti-military fighter must live on and his legacy preserved. As we mourn the passage of Professor Festus Iyayi and celebrate his life with several activities lined up at the University of Benin and final burial in Ugbegun, we realize that the struggle Baba Omojola and Festus Iyayi devoted their lives to and died fighting is far from over. Today, we are faced with a small group of thieves and looters who offer nothing to the people but grab everything for themselves. This cabal is hindering development, obstructing democracy, gathering all national assets for itself and using fronts to buy up national treasures including the fully refurbished oil refineries planned to be sold next year. The struggle is not over yet. Baba Omojola, Professor Iyayi and the other heroes of the struggle have brought us this far. Now we need to pick up where they left off.