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CHIEF AFE BABALOLA SAN- A TRIBUTE TO A LIFE BLIND TO LIFE’S INNANITIES BUT EDIFICATION OF HUMANITY.

FROM MODEST REGARD TO HERO

I must first and foremost say that I was not a great fan of Papa Afe Babalola SAN  for a number of reasons.

First, when I stepped out to run for House of Representatives in 2007, though Baba Afe is not from the Constituency that I sought to represent, my father, Chief F.A Daramola, his contemporary and long time acquaintance felt I should pay Chief Afe Babalola SAN, a visit( affectionately called Baba Afe) a kind of meet and greet and get to know  visit.

I really did not think it was necessary, for a number of reasons, all basically due to my  political slant and corner that I belonged.

At the time, the very rife allegation was that Baba Afe was a card carrying member of the PDP!

That profiling was so strong about Baba Afe, and the politics of that moment was so sharply divided between both political parties, it brook no chance for middle of the ground, it was a case of you are  either for us or against us, and we carried that like a doctrine that beclouded our reasoning.

Here I was a rabid advocate of AC /ACN being taken to a “PDP MAN’s” HOUSE to solicit his support behind my aspiration.

Besides it was also a popular opinion on the street, that Baba Afe did not like the  then candidate of our party Dr Kayode Fayemi, and being a die-hard Kayode Fayemi man then, I could not justify the need for that visit. To me it was disloyalty of the highest order.

Anyways we went to see him to please my father and it was a very warm visit, my father and Baba Afe chatted about Ekiti and all that, toward the end my father then introduced me formally to him.

He greeted me warmly and didn’t say too much about my aspiration but encouraged me and wished me well, adding for emphasis that he is not a politician, but he would support anyone who he feels will make Ekiti  better. That struck me, but I felt it was a way of masking or toning down his partisan preference for the other side.

Second reason why I really never was Baba’s fan was also the word on the street that Baba Afe was too thrifty!

Not a few people would say, “Baba mu hin koni”.. well being someone who is obtuse with my inclination to assisting whoever I could in my little way, within my limited means, I didn’t like that vibe about Baba, who I “perceived” has been a beneficiary of the system and then not wanting to assist for me was wrong.

While I could not validate that profiling, I took that in about Baba Afe, so that also added to my justification for not jumping on lovers of Baba Afe’s boat.

Third reason why I was not fond of Baba Afe was the perception that he flaunted his relationship with President Olusegun Obasanjo, his very close friend of so many years in a way that I felt was too flagrant.

At a point, he was reputed to have said the Governor of Ekiti had been ceded to him by his friend President Obasanjo, and it was his choice to make, regardless of the will of Ekiti people, this is one of the profiling condiments, I can’t verify or validate that, but I accepted it as the truth. Political blindness!

Lastly Baba Afe was the one the spoke at the then Honourable  now Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele’s 50th or 55th birthday, this coincided with the time, when we were at loggerhead as a result of now Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele’s decision to  “break ranks”  with our party to contest for the Gubernatorial seat against Dr. Kayode Fayemi who was on his first term them.

I remembered that in our camp, we didn’t take it kindly because we felt Baba Afe had taken his adversarial disposition  yet again too far by giving endorsement to another person than us in our party as we pushed for Dr Fayemi’s return to GovernmentHouse under a tenuous situation.

Baba Afe had earlier been seen as Governor Segun Oni’s godfather, indeed short of signing Governor’s file

While I harboured all these unverified sentiments, I was blinded to all the good works of this very GREAT NIGERIAN 🇳🇬  and MOST PROUDLY OF EKITI EXTRACTION.

I was so blinded to the idea of the Afe Babalola University, that I saw and reduced to a personal business.

Even though I am a sucker for education, and an ardent believer in the place of an educated citizenry as the pivot of development, i did not give Baba any credit as much as he had earned, infact, the profiling stew was further garnished with another condiment, when “they” said Baba “took” people’s land to set up the University and never paid compensation to the owners, I took sides, informed and blinded by my politics, they said Ekiti State Government allocation was being taken to fund the University etc

But on this day, I am like Saul after his unequalled encounter become a disciple!

#MY #ROAD #TO #DAMASCUS.

A very dear friend and classmate of mine had been ill for a while,  and we had been in the background assisting in our little way to get him back to his feet.

This is a perfect gentleman, soft spoken and a gifted man indeed. In the gift of designs and  developing creatives, he is super gifted, his designs are world class.

So many of my visual expressions were done by him, without charging me, he just asks for time after the brief and days later he gives me results that I barely can fault and I just give what I believe is reasonable not in value, he would accept and that would be it.

Up until three weeks ago he had churned out some designs for me on my latest frolick with my passion and conviction, the NIGERIA SKITS INDUSTRY AWARDS, a project that he designed the logo.

I digress a little. I am a fastidious person about the need to build our society on enduring values, one of which is due recognition  for whoever has earned it, to me this is an elixir for great inspiration.

This project is basically to institutionalise the recognition and reward of young Nigerians who represent the “#Nigerian #Dream”, i.e, the never give up spirit, of  young people who have reached into the innermost of their beings to discover their talents, added creativity,  passion, determination and resilience to the point of attaining  public from depths of  obscurity.

Young men and women who took a good look at life in the face and  gave it a fighting  chance, didn’t quit on their hopes and aspiration and today rising from bootstraps and shoestrings they rose to redefine the Nigerian Entertainment landscape.

Today without help from anywhere (just like the Afe Babalola trajectory) have created an industry from SKITS MAKING.

I am of the opinion that for the impact they make on daily basis, the value they add enduringly not only the therapy of humour as we go through the bind and grind of living in Nigeria, they are now job creators, they have become a crucial substrate for the telecommunications sector, not forgetting the social mobilisation messages from their characterisations.

I believe they have earned their stripes and we can only further inspire and encourage them and those who will still come into the industry with rare skills through institutional recognition.

That’s why we started the #NSIAWARDS,  because I realise that the building block of any society that  will be great MUST INCLUDE FORMAL RECOGNITION AND REWARD OF THOSE WHO ARE DOING OR HAVE DONE WELL, IN ANY AREA OF OUR NATIONAL LIFE ,SOMETIMES UNIQUELY with a view to getting more people inspired.  That’s the path to greatness of nations and societies.

Talking about building our society for enduring greatness, in the light of my encounter that led me to AFE BABALOLA MULTI SYSTEM HOSPITAL, I FEEL #EKITI, #NIGERIA 🇳🇬, #NIGERIANS have not FULLY AND WORTHILY GIVEN THE RECOGNITION THAT BABA AFE BABALOLA HAS EARNED.

IMAGINE THESE #AFE #BABALOLA #MULTI SYSTEM #HOSPITAL IN 36 #STATES OF #NIGERIA?.

I may not be able to estimate the worth of Baba Afe in Naira and Kobo, but I know there is no state in Nigeria that cannot boast of one person who has as much money as Baba Afe, or close to him,  but how many people have the presence of mind to put up a 400 bed hospital  facility like the Afe Babalola MULTISYSTEM HOSPITAL ?

JUST FOR THE PURPOSE OF ADDING VALUE TO HUMANITY? 😢

I read somewhere a very profound statement  that “some people are so POOR that all they have is MONEY!

Baba Afe Babalola’s life has stoically  proved that.

What do we really need in life? Food? Houses? Cars? Trinkets etc how much of these do we really need to live and live well? So much that  we are blinded to the reality that we will leave every kobo, dollar pound, houses, cars etc behind, not one of those things will we be remembered for, 😢 when the grim reaper comes and surely will.

In a society where Government has failed the people beyond doubts in sensitivity to the plight of people, Baba Afe has become an oasis in an desert, even when he has never and is not seeking political office.

How many State Governments have invested in such an extensive and elaborate health care system such as #AFE #BABALOLA #MULTISYSTEM #MEDICAL #HOSPITAL, sitting on such an expansive land, the spread reminded  me of the outlay of JOHN HOPKINS MEDICAL FACILITY in Maryland, USA.

I am yet to find any state in Nigeria with a 400 bed hospital anywhere  funded by either a State Government or even an individual!

Health is Wealth they say, but NEVER PRACTICED OR PRIORTISED!

Blessed are lives who count their ROI
(Return on Investment) by the number of lives that are impacted positively , humanity in general and not by their bank accounts balances or positions on Forbes list, or measure their  success in items.

BACK TO MY ROAD TO DAMASCUS.

So my friend took ill again and with my follow up, was told that he has been moved to AFE BABALOLA UNIVERSITY, ADO EKITI.

I decided that I must visit him, to see how he is doing and to check if he would need to be moved somewhere  else.

Yes I have heard of the Afe Babalola hospital but never been there, so I left Abuja to see for myself.

When I got to the hospital, the sheer expansiveness freaked me out!

To enter you had to go through very stringent observance of COVID-19 protocols right from the gate.

On getting into the facility, the very warm staff were not loitering around but everyone moving purposefully in several directions and barely having time for long talks.

Since there was nobody to take me straight to where my friend was, I had to ask at a few desks, the first very decent staff said i should go to the A& E department, and from there I was directed to the ward where my friend was.

I observed that the humongous facility was so sparkling clean, the staff too.

When I got inside my friend’s ward, I just told myself, there’s no reason to contemplate moving him from this hospital.

I got into the ward after I was mandated to wear protective medical cover on my head, body and feet.

I asked the nurse present a few questions, and not being a doctor,  he was able to avail me basic information  but asked that I drop my number for onward passage to the Doctors when they come back.

As I walked out of the hospital, I kept saying to myself what would have been the case if this hospital with these type of medical infrastructure  was not in place ?

What if Baba Afe had kept all the money used to build this hospital to save lives in his bank accounts? As many are doing today?

What if he chose to buy houses in capitals of the world , or cars or becoming another  veritable  zaddy buying  diamond studed brassiere for teenage fancies just for fleeting stroking moments? As it is the stock in trade of some rich men today.

Nobody knows how long our tenancy  here on the planet earth is, but when you find yourself  in a situation where life is hanging or dangling precariously between life and death, one would be in a position to appreciate the availability  of a functional medical facility.

May God not put us in that position before knowing the importance of this great intervention of this magnitude.

If this medical facility were to be driven or fuelled by pecuniary motives, I am not sure that huge facility can turn around the money used in 10years!

This was what motivated me in my little corner to build and equip by the grace of God a 32 bed hospital in my Constituency when I had the opportunity to do so, today this little facility is saving lives in droves, children are being  delivered safely and extreme conditions get stabilised before referral.

Coming face to face with a 400 bed hospital that Afe Babalola Multisystem Hospital is more than an inspiration, which I believe qualifies Baba Afe Babalola for  ENDURING  SPECIAL RECOGNITION not only in Ekiti State but indeed in Nigeria.

When Oprah Winfrey built a school for girls in South Africa, she made it to CNN front line news,  if CNN does not pick this I owe it to my conscience to acknowledge and celebrate  Baba Afe for this and tell this to the world from a grateful heart.

This is the reason behind this tribute

Earlier I had mention the need to revisit the building blocks of our society in such a way that evil must not drown or dwarf good works.

Today the society is drifting very dangerously more in the direction of me, myself and I.

Selfishness and Self centeredness towering dizzyingly over Selflessness.

Today it’s almost becoming a norm to raise the bar of indifference to others, to  live a life and in a society where everyone is for himself and God for us all, as they say “OYO” i.e ON YOUR OWN is fast becoming  the acceptable new normal!

But the very few AFE BABALOLA’S are saying NO! Using their personal examples for correctional purposes. A live loaded with indelible tangible proofs,  and incontrovertible  messages of Selflessness and commitment to a better world, that’s the Afe Babalola MULTISYSTEM HOSPITAL message.

While I was in the hospital,  Baba Afe was not  anywhere the hospital, but on that be, in that ward was my dear friend  and others whose lives were dependent on the access to medicare that an Afe Babalola  provided, regardless or not even knowing who such will keep alive.

As it is for my friend , I am sure so it would be for many on the occupied beds out of the 400 or several others who had come in sick, some with little hope of survival but walked out with their legs not to talk of babies delivered there.

For me anyone that stands by the weak, the less privileged, the poor , is my HERO.

From this day forward that is the AFE BABALOLA’ that I know, I have permanently deleted all the profiling and the garnishing condiments, emptied all to where they belong, 🔥 the fiery furnace of truth..

Baba Afe has raised the bar in concern for humanity with this medical facility like no other in this nation today, and I am humbled with tears 😢 rolling off my eyes to see that an individual has single handedly by this act brought life line and joy to thousands that he may never meet.

I am proud to celebrate  the all time wonderful accomplishment of this very GREAT man, greatness not only coming from his ability to get to the zenith of the legal profession, for a man who I am told never walked through a University,  and today has a University, he studied all by himself to qualify, he conquered adversity that would have made him a nobody and today by reason of his works has become the living example of nobility by his good works.

What Governments could not dare because of lack of will and willingness,  because they lack the heart for others,  Baba Afe has done and showed that with a heart ❤  that truly cares, the world would be a better place for everyone.

I have great pride to share the ancestry of Ekiti with this great and unusual Nigerian, a citizen of the earth  and living legend.

For me anyone that shows up for the hungry with food, water for the thirsty,  concern for the confused, hope for the hopeless, health for the weak, sow or infirm is next to God.

No matter your faith or spirituality or religion,  be you a religious bigot or atheist, humanity is a unifier.

I believe we owe one another the duty to extend gracious sensitivity to those who are in need, our lives will make more meaning if we extend more concern and care,  share a little more, always having a thought for the next person without pecuniary  motives.

This is what we owe humanity, as someone once said, our good works will be the rent we pay for the time and blessings we receive on this side of the great divide.

This is the BABA AFE BABALOLA  EXAMPLE  and it’s commended to all, it’s not the exclusive forte of anyone.

Blessed be the ancestors who planted trees that will give shade, that they will not stand under.

I am not sure Baba Afe had slept one night on those hospital bed, with this hospital, good medicare as obtainable abroad can now be found in my state of Ekiti, medical tourism to India should be replaced with Ekiti.

I would expect that Government of Ekiti should go into partnership with Baba Afe to ensure that this huge facility serves not only Ekiti people but all those in need of medical attention, for instance get Federal Government to dualise Ado – Akure Road,  patients can fly into Akure airport and drive 35mins to the medical facility.

I am sure the personnel running the hospital will also be top notch.
It will be a win-win for all.

On this note I humbly propose to Ekiti State Governor , His Excellency Dr. #Kayode #Fayemi and the State assembly to consider a day that will be called CHIEF AFE BABALOLA INSPIRATION  DAY and declare a statewide public holiday.

This will be a symbolic frontal fight back, a battle for mindshare with regard to raising a generation on a society whose building block will include the virtue of  Selflessness, Service to mankind, where we consciously raise more selfless people who care for and about others.

On that day students should go there on excursion of the entire facility both the hospital  and the University among others, and Baba Afe can speak to them.

That way we say loudly that when we SHARE WE SHOW THAT WE CARE.

For all you have done, from a grateful heart, please accept my profound gratitude Sir.

God bless Baba Afe Babalola SAN, with many years in good health and wellbeing .

Congressman Bimbo Daramola.
Abuja
13th November 2021.

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