By Ariyo-Dare Atoye
“I believe it is still going to be well with Nigeria.” And, on another day, during our usual interactions on the state of the nation, and especially when the debate is delving too much into the hopeless state of the country, he would interject: “And don’t be surprised that things would still turn around for the better in Nigeria.” This optimism at a time Nigeria is wandering in the wilderness is rare and more than mere expressions for Sufuyan Ojeifo (Oj for short).
Since clocking 50 last year, having been born on August 6, and regardless of the challenges that had denied him the gracious opportunity of marking his golden jubilee, Oj has advanced his quest for nation building and a Nigeria that works, to another level with his exceptional and selfless writing skills, touching on virtually every area of our national life; and, he, no doubt, qualifies as a missionary writer, who is evangelising the nation with his redemptive pen.
For him, “moral rearmament is a necessity,” for Nigeria to get out of the mess in which she has found herself as a country. While preaching with his pen on Nigeria’s corruption dilemma and the shoddy anti-corruption crusade, he believes that “we must all agree and be ready to imbibe the right ways of doing things, with transparency and accountability as our watchwords.”
According to him, the nation must find “ways of measuring and ranking public officers on the Corruption Perceptions Index on the basis of their acts of commission and omission in the course of official duties, with a view to allocating values or indications of qualification and non-qualification” for higher public office responsibilities.
He has, also, repeatedly called for a “New Deal” in addressing the challenges facing the nation and in taking the economy not only out of recession but also to make it flourish. Oj himself has the foresight of leadership to know that every society has a huge deposit of men and women with profound wisdom, knowledge and skills to solve problems. That was why he queried rhetorically in one of his finest submissions: “Where are the Nigerian equivalents of the British economist, John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946), whose ‘Keynesian Solution’ or ‘Economics’ had a major impact on modern economic and political theories and on many governments’ fiscal policies?”
Oj went ahead to task the Presidency to always mobilise the nation’s economists for critical redemptive interventions. “We have them here in their numbers,” and it is the responsibility of the leadership to “search out a solid economic team to chart the way forward” for the country. This Edo-born writer, but who was born and bred in Yourba land, has effectively combined the journalist’s task of society’s watchdog with that of nation-building. I will encourage him to do more, since many Nigerians are enjoying his contributions.
Hopefully, there will be adequate space for me in the nearest future to properly dissect the many interventions of this journalist who is gradually redefining a new future for himself as a scholar. In addition to his well secured grounds in journalism with sterling practical records over the years, Oj is etching his future on a tripod of knowledge with forays into Public Administration and Law in addition to his forte- Mass Communication. His determination to have a commanding height in three major areas of humanities, social and management sciences is noteworthy. I encourage him to do his PhD in Journalism so that media students can, in the nearest future, profit from his industry experiences.
Oj has his ordeals. He is largely unperturbed by them and neither has he allowed the trying circumstances of life to weigh him down. He has elected to take everything in his strides. For a man who has been badly hurt by trusted folks, one who became a victim of an extended interest, and one who is also feeling the burden of the persisting recession, to still be writing positively, seeking a better Nigeria, I believe he deserves some special commendation. In obedience to the most difficult Biblical injunction, he is fulfilling the command of praying and wishing well, those who have persecuted him.
It is apt to say that Oj still has much more to offer this nation, since he is just starting the journey of another phase of life, having successfully witnessed a golden era. He is a great guy and a lovely family man. In the selfless and Godly task of meeting the needs of others, gentle winds have blown his sacrificial seeds to many fertile grounds all over the country. He is not a man to fear tomorrow irrespective of the prevailing economic challenges. His candour and ingenuity are exceptional.
I believe that at the appropriate time, the Almighty God will grant him the grace to properly tell his own story- including his journalistic odyssey from Champion, The Punch, Vanguard, Daily Trust and THISDAY newspapers to The Congresswatch magazine, which he-cofounded, and just maybe it will come in a book form. This will allow Nigerians to peruse the life of a man who wrote himself to the enviable place of contentment from a humble background; not that he is rich, but because he knows the secret of sowing the little seeds he has and reaping incrementally from the good gesture.
While it will be a tall dream to think of playing himself to a lawn tennis grand-slam at 51, I think Oj is doing well on court. He plays tennis for leisure, but on other times, he coaches from the sidelines. In his little ways, he has touched many lives. He is a great man and a jolly good fellow. Happy birthday, Sir!