By Mohammed Abdullahi
Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi will clock 50 on August 12, which is still some few days away. But I have to send this early birthday wishes, knowing his ‘family’ has expanded to accommodate many people that have come to appreciate and look up to him as a role model, a mentor and a guardian.
Before the space becomes crowded with the expected barrage of facilitations, I decided to do this early so my tiny voice is not drawn out by the thunderous applause of the many souls that have come to be a part of his life.
No doubt, his rich and impactful life is a great influence and inspiration to those that fate has led towards him. He started out as the hero of a family, but now he has become the icon and legend of thousands of souls. This is a huge blessing for which the Abdullahi family is grateful and proud. In the knowledge that a great man belongs to many, I’m sure the family is happy to share Mallam Bolaji with others who have come to appreciate the blessing that he represents.
I have been told repeatedly of how, as a child, the cloud of evil threatened the celebrant’s life. As a young man struggling for survival, I was told of the many thorns that dotted his path. But the hands of destiny has led him this far, and he is now celebrating not just the number of years but a great life. Yet, he is still strong and looking forward to even a brighter future with hope. For this and more, I congratulate him.
Personally, Mallam Bolaji has taught me enduring lessons of perseverance, knowledge of self-worth, true humility, hard work and other great virtues. As a man who loves absolutely and forgives easily, I have learnt from him that God does not place one person in the judgment of others; and so Mallam finds it easy to understand that no human is infallible.
The story of how Mallam, through sheer intelligence and grit of hard work, moved from relative obscurity to outstanding national recognition; becoming one of the most read columnists and Editor of a major newspaper at just 34, moving up to become a Minister at 42, one of the youngest to accomplish that feat in Nigeria, is a popular one.
However, what defines the accomplishments of Mallam Bolaji is not his outstanding academic record or his early career achievements; it is his unblemished and incorruptible record of public service that has conferred on him the honor and glory of a lifetime.
All through his life, Mallam has tried to make others live by the same principles that define his own life. He has exemplified those things that he values, knowledge and character. He is an intellectual whose love for books in particular and knowledge in general is greatly astounding and infectious. Just like he did when he was still in search of success and breakthrough, he still reads so voraciously, sometimes devouring two or more books simultaneously, that you wonder why he still feels the need to learn so much when he already knows so much.
While most of his contemporaries make money the basis for their interventions in the life of those who look up to them for direction, especially young people; Mallam has consistently taught the need to arm oneself with the sort of competitive knowledge that opens doors of opportunities. Hence, as both a role model and mentor, living in a community that somehow defines generosity only in terms of how much money you could dole out; Mallam has remained refreshingly different by sharing with the many who seek to follow in his footsteps the very secret of his own success, knowledge.
There is just so much one could say and write about the fine life Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi has led so far. But his birthday is not an occasion for a long tribute; rather it presents an opportunity to thank God for an extraordinary life of impact and inspiration.
As he begins the journey of the next phase of his incredible life, here is wishing Omoluabi great health and peace of mind. May he continues to broaden the scope of possibilities, attain all his glorious dreams and aspirations; live long and well, and above all end it all at a point of absolute fulfillment.
Abdullahi, a public analyst, writes from Ilorin