Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, said that Nigeria’s challenges are the handiwork of forces within the system.
How do you feel at 56?
I feel good. I am happy and thank God for keeping me alive. Never knew I could live this long. I have gone through a lot, very dangerous situations in the 56 years I have been here.
So, what is your life philosophy?
Do things that make for justice and equity. Fight for those high ideals that enable progress for humanity. Shun material things. Don’t chase after money and be contented with what you have. Work towards being an oloro, not olola . I hope you understand the difference.
How would you describe those years you used the pen to fight military dictatorship?
Very interesting and dangerous at the same time. It was also a very challenging period of my life. We lived as if everyday was the last. We did a lot of things that put our lives and those of our families in danger. We were idealists, revolutionaries in a way. We were fearless and were determined to succeed.
Now that you are a presidential adviser and governorship aspirant, would you say your view of politics has changed from what it was as a journalist/ political activist?
I don’t know about the governorship aspirant bit, but as a senator and Special Adviser, I have seen government and governance up close and I am more familiar with the challenges Nigerian leaders face, which you cannot appreciate if you are not within the system. There are many forces within the system that do not want Nigeria to work, that do not want our people to live like the rest of humanity. Whatever good idea you bring about to solve the myriad of problems facing our people, these forces will act as stumbling blocks. They frustrate simple solutions to problems out of selfishness and self centeredness.
What is your advice to the people of Ekiti State and those aspiring to govern the state?
My advice to voters is that they must go for people of ideas and ideals.
They must not choose because someone has thrown money at them on the street and buys beer for them. Those are momentary gains that will leave them the way they are if not worse than the way they were. The Yoruba are what they are today because they had an Awolowo who planned and clinically executed development policies.
He was very meticulous in his planning and clinical in his execution. That is the kind of person and persons we need in Ekiti to bring us out of the morass we have found ourselves. For the politicians they must not seek cheap popularity. While they need to court the voters, they must stay resolute and principled. Leaders chart the path for the people. They tread paths hitherto unpaved. An unpopular idea today may be the one many will embrace in future.
Awolowo lost an election earlier in his career. His idea of free education and increase in taxation to fund it was not loved initially, but look at where it has taken us today.
Tell us about a time when your judgment has been tested during a crisis.
I think on my feet and I am very intuitive. I think fast and act fast. On a number of occasions when I have been in danger, this has saved me. You will get to read much of that in my autobiography.
Do you see yourself as the next governor of Ekiti State, as is being speculated and what is your advice to young journalists and media entrepreneurs?
On the governor thing, you are the one saying that. I am contented for now working as Special Adviser. On my advice to media start ups and young journalists, I will say keep working at it. Be ethical. Eschew lies and fake news. Credibility matters a lot in journalism. When you lose it, you are not worth anything. You also need to realize early enough that if you are looking for money you are in the wrong profession.