On Tuesday August 26, 2020, I lost a brother, confidant, motivator and professional colleague. I could not recall the exact moment I met Olugbenga Ojo but he remembered and told the story so often that it virtually came back to me. Here is the story.
The year was 2000 and I was contesting for a leading office in our professional body, the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR). -Coincidentally, Gbenga was a good friend and ally of my then opponent and now brother and he had come from his resident chapter in Osun to ‘help straighten’ the very insolent me ‘challenging the establishment’. This was because I was relatively a new-comer in chapter activism and ‘politics’. He often said his opposition to the ‘upstart’ melted when on introduction to me, he noticed my ‘charm and confidence’ (his words, not mine). Unfortunately, I did not know this at the time, but I vaguely remember this warm and friendly ‘egbon’ who immediately started calling me ‘aburo mi atata’(my beloved younger brother in whom I am well pleased)
The next I remember was the news of Gbenga being involved in a serious car crash on his way to Abeokuta, Ogun State while serving as a member of the 2002 Annual General Meeting Planning Committee. The crash badly fractured his right leg and landed him in hospital for a protracted period. As a result of it, he could hardly walk without the aid of a walking stick until he passed on. I recollect his being very upset with me for not visiting him in the hospital and I was rather taken aback by this because to me we were not that close. But that afforded me my first glimpse into the person and personality of Gbenga Ojo.
If the roles were reversed, he will have ‘climbed the highest mountain’ to be by my side. This he would have done not just for me, but any other he considered a friend; close or distant. That was who he was. A selfless but often misunderstood person.
But I still must apologise egbon, for the number of times you called and broached the subject of what you wanted me to do when you passed and I brushed you off because I did not want to discuss your death. I recollect specifically when you said you had appointed me like an executor to your will and I objected, selfishly insisting you could not die now since I still needed your ‘protection and guidance.’. You responded by challenging my Christian faith and saying you will choose to die before me since you are older. Moreover, you believed you will possibly be better equipped to protect me from yonder. I still refused to see it because I could not imagine life especially in NIPR without you.
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