Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Tribute: Comrade Baba Olumide Omojola (1938 – 2013)

Late Baba Omojola

By Nelson Ekujumi

Born on July 13, 1938 and named ADEWOLE BABARINDE OMOJOLA AJIBOLA but known as BABA (OLUWIDE) OMOJOLA - his operational name in the course of revolutionary duties in Africa and his activism in the social movement in Nigeria. Baba Oluwide was educated at Ilesa Grammar School, Osun State (1952 – 56); London School of Economics (LSE) (1958 – 61) and Central School of Planning and Statistics, Warsaw, Poland (1969 – 70), Comrade Baba Omojola set a scholarship record as the most brilliant student in (LSE) with a 1st Class Degree in Economics in 1961 - a record that endured for more than four decades and was only recently equalled by his own son - Akinola - who also graduated from (LSE).

Baba Omojola was a man of many parts. He was a foremost patriot, nationalist, man of peace, Human Right and Labour Activist, writer, educationist, economist, humanist, Africanist, bridge builder, socialist, grassroots mobilizer, lover of youths and progress, Encyclopedia of African culture and tradition, family man, etc, who devoted his time and resources to the cause of a prosperous, democratic and just society, till he breathed his last.

Baba Omojola early in life charted his path of service to humanity by actively participating in several Nationalist struggles which culminated in Nigeria’s independence from the colonialist. He collaborated extensively with patriots and nationalists of generations ahead of him and those of successive generations, among whom were: Obafemi Awolowo, Michael Imoudu, Wahab Goodluck, Dapo Fatogun, Eskor Toyo, Edwin Madunagu, Tayo Akpata, Rita Lori Ogbebor, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Aminu Kano, Hajiya Gambo Sawaba, S. G. Ikoku, Raji Abdalla, Kola Balogun, Mokwugo Okoye, Anthony Enahoro, Alao Aka-Bashorun, Tai Solarin, M. E. Kolagbodi, Ola-Oni, Balarabe Musa, Abubakar Rimi, General KKM Kassonghov, Abayomi Ferreira, M. T. Akobo, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Alfred Ilenre, Gani Fawehinmi, Beko Ransome-Kuti, Ambassador Otunla, S. O Wey, M. D. Yusuf, Femi Falana, Keziah Awosika, etc.

Comrade Baba as a man of many parts was a one time political adviser to the PRP Kano State Government of Abubakar Rimi in 1979 – 83. His focus on the socialist transformation of the society, led him into engagement and collaboration with diverse people and organizations in Nigeria and across the world.

Baba Oluwide Omojola was also a leading light in the emancipation of Nigerians from the shackles of military despots during which time he was illegally detained and hounded severally with other pro democratic activists like late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Beko Ransome Kuti, Anthony Enahoro, Femi Falana, Femi Aborishade, Ayo Opadokun, etc by the Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha juntas. Baba Omojola is famously remembered as one of the KUJE 5 political prisoners comprising others like Beko Ransome Kuti, Gani Fawehinmi, Femi Falana and Segun Maiyegun whose trial by the military junta of IBB broke the myth of masses fear of the military and galvanized social and political activism against the Khaki interlopers.

Baba Omojola was a strong advocate of true federalism and democracy which was one of the reasons why he joined ranks with progressive forces of like minds such as late Chief Anthony Enahoro, Beko Ransome Kuti, Wole Soyinka and others to midwife the Pro National Conference (PRONACO) of ethnic nationalities whose draft constitution he vigorously propagated till he answered the ultimate call of his maker.

Baba Omojola was a torch bearer and rallying point of several ethnic nationalist groups, with particular emphasis on the Yoruba nation self identity which he championed and ensured that there was harmony and collaboration with other ethnic nationality groups to proffer solutions to the myriad of problems besetting the Nigerian state.

Comrade Baba was an organization man who belonged to several organizations and groups visioned towards societal reformation and restructuring of Nigeria via a Sovereign National Conference (SNC). Baba was a key and silent organiser and strategist at various levels of organization including Zikist Movement (1953), Youth Universal Liberation Army (YULA), Movement for Popular Democracy in Nigeria (MPD) 1976, People's Redemption Party (PRP), Socialist Revolutionary Vanguard (SRV), National Consultative Forum NCF (that organized the 1990 National Conference that was aborted by the IBB dictatorship), Campaign for Democracy (CD), National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), Socialist Conferences in Nigeria between 1960s - 2000s, All-Nigerian Socialist Alliance (ANSA), Pro-National Conference Organizations (PRONACO), Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), June 12 Coalition of Democratic Formations, Action Group, etc.

An archivist, editor of several journals in popular struggle and custodian of the most extensive materials on labour struggle and social movement in Nigeria from which he authored - Part 1 of the Imoudu Biography - a political history of Nigeria 1939 – 50, Yoruba Social Science Terms 2013. He was the editor, Mass Line – a Marxists cadre journal. Comrade Baba Omojola also translated the Communist Manifesto into the Yoruba language.

Baba Omojola was one among his contemporaries whose contribution to democratic struggle is legendary and defies borders. Comrade Baba was an essential link with Fidel Castro and Ernesto Che Guevara in the African liberation struggles in Algeria, Congo-Zaire and Southern Africa. He was also a revolutionary confidant and combatant to Ahmed Ben Bella who became the first President of Algeria after the defeat of French colonialism, a revolutionary worker with Winnie Mandela following the establishment of the Mandela House in London as a coordinating centre of the international phase of the African National Congress (ANC) struggle against Apartheid South Africa.

Baba Oluwide Omojola who functioned as the revolutionary confidant-courier between Kwame Nkrumah and Nigerian Labour Leader No 1 - Michael Imoudu, was a foremost African political economist. He was distinguished as a Member of Honourable Society of the Inner Temple of England 1962, Fellow of the Royal Economic Society of England 1963, Research Fellow of the United Nations Research Institute for Developing countries 1969, Member of the Economic Commission of Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organization, Cairo 1970, Consultant/Specialist of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Addis Ababa, 1975, a life Member of the Nigerian Economic Society since 1984, listed in the Data Bank of Social Scientists as a member of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Dakar in 1983, etc.

A veteran of numerous and decisive underground revolutionary struggles on the African scene, Comrade Baba played host and provided cover for most African freedom fighters who were in Nigeria clandestinely at one time or the other in the 1960s to early 80s, including Thabo Mbeki who later became the 2nd President of independent South Africa. He was one of the few Africans who actively participated in the liberation struggle against then anti Apartheid regime in Southern Africa. He endured detention and physical injuries to leave his footprints in the sand of time as a liberator for Africans.

On the home front, Baba Omojola was a Rock of Gibraltar behind the Nigerian student’s movement which he guided and mentored for revolutionary change. He provided financial, emotional and material relief to distressed Nigerians especially expelled or rusticated student activists of various levels. He was a teacher and mentor to late Chima Ubani amongst several others.

Baba Omojola was a comrade per excellence who gave his all to societal cause wherever and whenever the clarion call arose not minding the risk to his personal safety and health, which was why, even at 75 years of age, Baba’s commitment to the peoples cause was incomparable hence he still found out time to be in Akure against all odds to make his presentation at the National Conference Advisory Committee zonal meeting, after which he moved on to higher service. Oh, what a great man!

Until his passage, Comrade Baba Omojola was the chairman Econsultants (Overseas) limited, a firm of integrated economic and industrial engineers which is listed as planners in the Directory of African Consulting Organization by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa since 1975.

Comrade Baba Oluwide Omojola is survived by his wife - Dr. Iyabode Cole-Ajibola and three children -Eyinade Ajibola, Akinola Ajibola and Morenike Ajibola and numerous other children and grandchildren. Baba Oluwide Omojola was a devout traditionalist, who worshipped at Indigene Faith of Africa (Ijo Orunmila Ato).

As we celebrate the life and times of this great son of Mama Africa, here’s wishing that the Almighty will grant the immediate and extended family, the human right community, relations, friends and well wishers the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss and we also pray that God in his infinite mercy gives us the grace to carry on from where Comrade Baba Oluwide Omojola left, by rededicating ourselves to a life of selfless service to humanity for a peaceful and prosperous world.

Adieu Baba Oluwide Omojola, sleep well till we meet to part no more!

Sun re o Baba, ma je okunrun, ma je ekolo, ohun ti won ba nje ni ajule orun ni ko ba won je!

Aluta Continua, Victoria Ascerta!

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