Onukaba Ojo Can’t Die

Tribute By Segun Adeyemi

”Where in the world are you” Ojo had asked in a text message to me during my recent quick break
That set the stage for our meeting the moment I touched down in Abuja.
We were together on Thursday March 2nd 2017. It was at our usual watering hole, Baytown Lounge, Abuja.

We packed so much into the three hours we spent together. In between some quick bites and quaffs, we talked business, family, whatever caught our fancy.

We do that anytime I could take a quick break from my frenetic pace. As it now seems, it would be our last meeting on this side of the divide.

Ojo (that’s what I call him) did not need to make that trip: To attend Obasanjo’s 80th birthday.
He told me he didn’t get an invitation, and I told him he didn’t need any, that it was his ‘Baba’s’ birthday.
A wry smile on his face, he said I was right, and quickly added: ”He (Obasanjo) won’t forgive me if I didn’t go”

There and then he decided he would go…..I feel a sense of guilt for not stopping him.
But that’s playing God. I shouldn’t! I know. But what can I say now?

I am grateful for all the time we spent together as friends and brothers Though we both practised as journalists in Nigeria, we became friends only in New York.

I was there as a Foreign Correspondent, he as a doctoral student at New York University.
We and other Nigerian journalists (Sonala Olumhense, Tunji Lardner Junior, Stanley Ogunedo and the only non-journalist Daniel Akerejah), who were ”stranded in New York by choice” – apologies to Yinka Adeyemi, another journalist then based in NY., formed what we called the ”Goat Club”.

Once a month, we would retire to Akerejah’s home in New Jersey, from where we headed to a farm to slaughter a goat, share it and head back to Akerejah’s home to eat, drink, dance and remember home sweet home.
It looks like eons ago now….So much for that.

In a world of treachery, disloyalty, dishonesty, indolence and hatred, you can’t find a more loyal, more honest, more hardworking and more loving fellow than Ojo. He was reliable, dependable and straightforward to a fault.

Yet he had more than enough of his own share of tragedy.
What an irony. No. Ojo is not dead. He can’t die. Good men don’t die.

@ Adeyemi is the Special Adviser to the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture.

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