Opinionl: Ojudu: A Sun Tzu At 55
Pray, how does one write about a seemingly enigmatic and energetic person like Babafemi Ojudu without having to goof one’s lines? The name Ojudu rings so many bells. The frequency is as high in the media as it is among the nation's human rights activists. Ojudu is also not a rookie in politics; neither is he alien to the popular culture world nor is he an ignoramus in entrepreneurship.
In Ekiti where he was born, Ojudu is a factor, so is in Lagos where he plied his profession as a journalist and in Abuja where he was a member of the Senate's 7th Legislative Assembly. If one's network were to determine his or her net-worth, then one would be right to assume that Ojudu freely controls billions of dollars. But what Ojudu may have lacked in money, he has gained in courage. The book titled The Art of War by Sun Tzu remains the ultimate guide to combat strategy, the oldest military treatise in the world. It must have taught Ojudu how to appear weak when he is strong; and strong when he is weak.
Ojudu seems to have made a mantra of the saying in the classical book of Sun Tsu, the greatest military experts of ancient China, which is “know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a thousand battles without disaster.” At 55, Ojudu has fought several battles on several fronts enough to last him his lifetime. And he wins always. Today he is the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters.
The Art of War has been applied to many fields well outside of the military. Much of the text is about how to fight wars without actually having to do battle: it gives tips on how to outsmart one’s opponent so that physical battle is not necessary. As such, it has found application as a training guide for many competitive endeavors that do not involve actual combat. And if the number of wars Ojudu has fought and won are his measure of strength, then, he and Sun Tzu are metaphorically linked.
Here is the key as provided by Sun Tzu: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
Ojudu is not an extra-ordinary human being. His story reads like that of any grass-to-grace person of his generation. He was born on 27 March 1961 at Ado-Ekiti in Ekiti State. He attended Ado Grammar School in Ado-Ekiti between 1973 and 1977. In 1976 he won a scholarship jointly sponsored by activist lawyer, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi and Jùjú musician King Sunny Adé for indigent students of the state. He proceeded to the then University of Ife, Ile-Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, to study English where he took interest in journalism. While at university he joined the Association of Campus Journalists, reporting for COBRA, a Campus Journal. He and two friends founded a journal called The Parrot, which he edited until graduating in 1984.
A foremost journalist and former Managing Editor of the Independent Communications Network Limited, publishers of TheNews, PM News and Tempo was a senator between 2011 and 2015 on the platform of then Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, before the merger that transformed it into the All Progressives Congress, APC. At the Senate, he was the Vice chairman of the Committee on establishment and Public Service, a member of the Defence Committee and spokesman for the APC Senate Caucus. In all these committees, he had always being at the forefront of fight against padding of budgets, which President Muhammadu Buhari has now taken up with verve. In December 2014, he announced his desire not to seek reelection into the Senate but he has continued to play prominent roles in the activities of his party, the APC leading to the success of his party at the 2015 presidential polls.
Ojudu was one of the victims of the military brutality as a result of the courageous roles played by him and his colleagues during the brutal military regimes, notably the dark days of the Abacha government. This constantly pitched him against the military authorities and he was incarcerated several times, the climax of which was his nine month detention in a solitary cell at the State Security Service, SSS, cell at Awolowo Road Ikoyi, Lagos. Little wonder why, as a senator, he constantly fought against criminalizing of the soldiers being arrested for refusing to go to war with their bare handswhile some people in government salted away the money meant to procure weapons for them to fight.
He worked as a reporter on completing his National Youth Service with The Guardian while attending the University of Lagos between 1985 and 1986 where he studied for a master’s degree in Political Science. The presidential appointee moved to African Concord in 1987 as a Staff Writer and rose to become the Assistant Editor. In 1992 Ojudu resigned in protest of a request by the Publisher of Concord, the late business mogul, Chief M.K.O. Abiola to apologise to the then military President, Ibrahim Babangida over a piece critical of the military regime.
In 1993, Ojudu and some of his former colleagues established The News magazine, with Ojudu as its first Managing Editor. Gani Fawehinmi assisted in funding the newspaper with a contribution of N25,000. The first version of The News did not last long before it was banned by Babangida in 1993. Years later, when Babangida said he was in interested in running for president in the 2011 democratic elections, Ojudu said that the second coming of Babangida to rule the nation should be resisted by every Nigerian who wanted progress for the country. He said “He does not have anything good to offer us. We have suffered enough in his hands… He is a trickster. Look at how many journalists were killed during his time. Look at what he did to our colleagues (journalists)… Look at what happened to our institutions when he was around. He destroyed the system and he is now seeking to come back. ”
Ojudu was arrested, tortured and detained several times during the draconian days of the Sani Abacha regime. He was arrested and detained for three days at the notorious Shagisha prison in the outskirts of Lagos on 11 August 1996. The cause was an article in The News about Oil Minister Dan Etete which alleged that Etete was giving government contracts on behalf of the Nigerian State Oil Company to his family and friends. Later in 1996 Ojudu went to the USA for six months as a fellow at the School of Communications, Howard University, Washington, D.C. On his return in June 1997 he was appointed Group Managing Editor of Independent Communications Network Ltd., publishers of The News, P.M. News and Tempo. He was arrested on 17 November 1997 after returning from a conference in Kenya.
In July 1998 (after the death of Abacha) it was reported that Ojudu was suffering from typhoid fever and jaundice, both life-threatening, caused by the unsanitary conditions in which he was detained and denied access to medication. In addition to his Managing Editor work, both before and after the return to democracy, Ojudu has been a member or chairman of several organizations and committees involved in media and human rights.
In total, Ojudu spent 26 years in media practice before entering politics in 2010. He formally declared that he would run for the Senate in August 2010. He left his post as Group Managing Editor of Independent Communications Network to run for office. The 10 January, 2011 primaries for ACN candidate for the Ekiti Central Senatorial seat were held in three of the five local government areas that make up the Senatorial district, and Ojudu won in all three. In the April 2011 election for the Ekiti Central Senatorial seat, Ojudu polled 67,747 running on the ACN platform. Labour Party (LP) candidate and former Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose received 29,773 votes. Kayode Alufa of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) received 29,488 votes. The election, although contested at the courts later confirmed Babafemi Ojudu as the validly elected senator to represent the Ekiti Central Senatorial District in the Red Chambers of the National Assembly, where he offered his constituents quality representation until he voluntarily left at the expiration of the 7th legislative session.
Like the classical Sun Tzu, Ojudu's passion to mentor the youth in diverse fields, which include medicine, law, management and even politics, knows no limit. He would always argue that brain wins more wars than brawn and the best legacy to bequeath the youths in any nation is the intellect, with which they can fight and win. Ojudu is equally very passionate about anything Ekiti and it has been his belief since youthful days that the state is not lacking in the resources, human and material, to rank among the best.
So what is special about clocking 55 years for someone who has won numerous battles without jeopardy, one might want to ask? Well, Number 55 is comprised of two 5's, making 55 a powerful number as the energies and attributes of number 5 are doubled, amplified and reinforced. Number 55 carries the vibrations of adventure and versatility, curiosity, facing challenges, learning life lessons through experience, auspicious opportunities, idealism and activity, making positive life choices and important changes.
Number 55 as a message from one's angels tells that it is time to let go of the 'old' that is no longer positively serving one, and get ready for big changes to take place in one's life. Old doubts, fears and perceived obstacles must be released as one looks forward to wonderful new opportunities. This only goes to confirm all that Sun Tzu has said in The Art of War.
Written by Segun Dipe.