Yesterday with Bolaji Abdullahi; the revelation and the new path


With Tajudeen Habeeb

For a while, I intentionally breached the spate of communication between me and my mentor—this, to allow him some time for his personal life and family.
During this period, I had series of requests from people wanting to meet with him. I screened and chose his prospective guests based on importance and priority. I only got involved with developmental issues especially those that had to do with youths, and shied away from politics.
Yayi, the author of a book titled “How to get your customer back”, in January, provided me with an avenue to, on a personal ground, request his (my mentor’s) presence at the launching of his book. Unfortunately, it fell into a time he had scheduled to embark on lesser hajj “humrah”, hence couldn’t attend the event. Yayi, can I promise you he will receive your book whenever he is in Ilorin?
That, however, was the beginning of a continuous communication for the year 2020. After series of discussions, accusing me of becoming a “big man”, hence not communicating with him, my mentor sent me an invitation, wherein he was invited to a programme organized by the correspondence chapel at NUJ secretariat Ilorin. I knew that was a yes! Anything journalism is a priority, so I noted the date.
A day I had earmarked for being a part of his entourage as a guest speaker at the Kwara correspondence chapel event, turned out to be another learning day. I got his text early in the morning, “Habeeb, I am in town, show up by 12:30 pm, the programme is scheduled for 4 pm.” Why 12:30? I mumbled.
At 12:30pm, at his compound were representatives of the Ilorin Emirate Youth Development Association led by their president.
They came on a commendation visit to present him with a certificate of credence for his support towards the development of the Emirate youths. Over time, I’ve known my mentor to be a conservative being–anything unworthy is a no-no for him. He wasn’t/isn’t your typical Nigerian politician with the syndrome of ‘anything goes’. One must be able to defend whatever he or she brings to him, and in strong terms, measure its impact. I wondered what brought them together.
At the heat hour of the 2019 general elections, while looking for his contributions in the community as a tool for marketing, his focus was always his impact on governance/policies and never contributions to personal lives nor communities as many politicians use to do. Maybe he didn’t have any, I use to think. So, how come IYDA deemed him worthy of their certificate of credence? Of course, I am never a fan of unmerited awards.
For a man I thought I knew in-and-out, I was puzzled by IYDA’s revelation. They were right on their award, I was wrong. In their presentation, IYDA highlighted his contributions to Ilorin community through the association. They disclosed that Mallam singlehandedly sponsored their first empowerment programme in 2014, as well as facilitated the distribution of telecoms tools, phones and other accessories as start-up business.
They revealed that during the recession when there was need to help people out with food, he sponsored the distribution of food items to the less privileged. IYDA added that at Okekura prison services, when it was obvious there was a problem of water, he singlehandedly facilitated water extension to ease the affairs of the prisoners through the association when contacted.
These and many more were their reasons for the certificate. All of these, even when we talk for hours and discuss many things, he never mentioned to me.
While responding, he told everybody present that he didn’t do all they listed for the purpose of commendation. He cited a verse of the Quran that says, “So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it” to end his acceptance speech. He beseeched the association to continue thinking about how to develop the community.
How can a man be like this? How can a politician be like this? An average politician can be desperate and see every act of kindness as a means to gain political points and sympathy. Why can’t this man tell all these stories when we can use them for his political journey?
Of course, at that time, some of the things against him were the thoughts that he wasn’t a downtrodden person. I kept on wondering what’s the point?
But, it later occurred to me as the new learning path, the intent of separating politics from Allah’s commandment for kindness. He had said doing good to the people was a commandment and can’t be attached to politics. That’s a path an honourable man must take. And that represents a new revelation and a new path.
Unilorin FM on the same day presented him with an award in commemoration of their 10 years operational anniversary, for his contribution to journalism and human capital development in the country. We then ended the day at the NUJ secretariat as scheduled.
Yesterday was another day, as usual, another learning day with Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi.
May I congratulate you, sir, on your well-deserved recognition. May the good Lord continue to strengthen you.
Habeeb, is an Omoluabi, writes from Ilorin.

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