This whole episode started when Kiki Osinbajo called me that evening. I rushed through my meal and finally picked the call the second time it rang. You see, there’s this thing with our conversations that just makes us keep talking on and on such that we never get fed up of it. From one issue to another and before you say Jack, we would have talked for almost an hour. So, now you understand the reason why I had to finish the meal before answering the call.
As usual, we went on and on with the gist and after some time of whining her about the political life, discussing some other pressing issues like the project we’re both working on, and giving reports of how far we had gone individually in pursuit of career fulfilment, she finally brought up the issue of her Popsy’s birthday. Her Popsy needs no introduction. If you couldn’t recognize her surname alone, I don’t know what to do with you. The exciting thing about her father’s birthday coming up in our discussion was that I had been given a special VIP invite to attend the special family and friends worship session at their home. Not only that, I was attending not as a photographer but as a guest. To say that I was excited is an understatement, I was extremely elated.
As much as I’m a regular friend of the family, I had only met Prof. Osinbajo a few times and it was understandable – his busy schedule. The first time we met one on one was when we both shared the stage to speak at one United Nations Symposium in 2015 and the other was when I had to photograph his grandson’s 1st birthday in 2016 but at those times, I couldn’t really say we met because we didn’t exchange much words. Just a few pleasantries here and there. So, now you know why this was such a big deal for me.
Right there on the phone, I had began to plan my clothing and flight arrangements as the Abuja airport had been scheduled for closure on Tuesday and all other logistics. Interestingly, Kiki had made arrangements for my accommodation at their house. That lady is just bae!
After a few minutes of her whining me about my new haircut (which I don’t want to talk about now), the loss of my phone and some other random things, we ended the call and I began my planning in earnest.
I arrived Abuja on Monday and I could literally feel the excitement in the air. There was so much buzz internally about it. I could literally feel 60 myself. Maybe it was because I’m practically a part of the family or maybe not!
Wednesday came so fast and we all gathered in the morning at the living room as planned. The worship was really tight! Unscripted and very real. You could check a few clips on kiki osinbajo’s IG handle @kikiosinbajo. I couldn’t do any updates cuz I was super electrified with the session. I just decided to enjoy and savour the moment while it lasted.
After about 45 minutes, Grandma (Prof’s mother) took centre stage. First, with her surprise cake and her many Yoruba choruses of thanksgiving to God and then she prayed for her son. In a couple of minutes, Prof himself admonished us all and it was all done, he had some other things to do. Prof left us in the living room whilst the rest of us continued in the celebration.
I could tell my heart skipped like 5 beats.
He called me again and this time was so sure it was Prof that called me. I wanted to enter the ground. I didn’t even know that he knew my name.
Was I expecting it?
How I walked down the stairs I can’t remember. All I can recollect now is that I met him down the stairs and errr.. I remember stealing glances at Kiki. She could see my nervousness clearly and was just having a good time smiling.
He held my hands and we walked into his room. He explained how that he had always saw the need to engage me in a discussion after we shared the stage at The UN symposium. Since my glasses were on, it was easy to dodge his eyes a couple of times. I was clearly shy. I looked around the room. It was massive. If this could be the other room, Buari talked about I think I want to remain in the other room abeg. It was a combination of both class and taste.
One word from him and I was back to reality.
He started by encouraging me not to give up on Nigeria. He shared some secrets of some of the things he currently envisions about Nigeria and our position globally. He clearly stated that it was of essence that I don’t give up on Nigeria and also carry this message to as many people as I could and ensure that they believe in the nation and do all that they can in their capacity to move Nigeria forward.
He also told me to build capacity now that I have the chance to do so. Reading books, listening to people of value, strengthening my relationship with God, Spending more time working rather than having fun are just a few ways of building capacity and ensuring that I am fully prepared for the future. He specifically said something about a transfer of the mantle of leadership to the youths and how that many of us young people who are clamouring for positions of leadership still aren’t fully prepared for what’s coming ahead hence the need for us to go back to our closets and grow deep.
He told me leadership isn’t always about the number one person. At this point, he smiled and then expressed his pleasure at how much work I was doing in this respect. He said he had read about 3 of my articles where I talked extensively on this and how it was necessary to rub this mindset into the heart of every young person. At this point, I glanced up into his eyes, my mouth hanging agape in wonder. That Osinbajo reads my blog posts came as a surprise to me. That meant that I was of course doing something right.
He told me to value my wife. He explained how valuable this instruction is if I would hold it very dear to me. He said people never know that the strength his wife possess has carried him thus far in his life. He stated clearly that it’s important to choose very wisely as that decision could make or mar ones destiny.
He also told me to respect the people ahead of me. To cherish, value and honor them with all of my heart.
He enlightened me on the need to pour all of my being into whatever my hand finds to do and be very diligent and skilled at it.
He moved on to share some other things but space wouldn’t allow me to share. He stretched out his hand and reached out for mine, closed his eyes and began to pray. I felt strength, freshness and peace all around me as he did this.
It was at this point during the prayer that I heard faint footsteps of movement which later became louder and louder till I finally opened my eyes.
It was my big sister leaving home for work and her movements in the house woke me from my sleep!
You see, this might just be one of my dreams but I still won’t forget what Prof. told me in the room. I’d hold them very firm to my heart and work hard to see these virtues at work in my own life
It doesn’t matter what anyone says, I met prof yesterday.
PS: It would also be nice if you took a cue or two from what prof. told me during his 60th birthday because of a truth, they are values I have learnt from his life.
Bolu Akindele is a young creative generalist with an incredible passion for excellence amongst young people. He shares his thoughts on twitter @boluakindele