Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pa Abdul Lateef Olujobi, ex-scribe of Nigerians in Cotonou is dead

Olujobi, ex-scribe of Nigerians in Cotonou is dead

Pa Olujobi receiving an award for meritorious service as outgoing General Secretary of NIDO in 2011. PHOTO: MAURICE ARCHIBONG

The founding General Secretary of the Cotonou Chapter of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), Pa Abdul Lateef Olujobi, is dead. Pa Olujobi was first elected General Secretary of the then Nigerian Community Union NCU (now NIDO) in 2002 and served in that capacity until the inauguration of a new executive of the pan-Nigerian body in 2011.

Aged 69, Pa Olujobi passed on at his Cotonou home in the early hours of Wednesday, May 2, 2012 (today). Olujobi, who hailed from Ile Olujobi Street in Ede, Osun State; is believed to have succumbed to some stress-related ailment.

When informed of Olujobi’s transition, many prominent Nigerians living in Cotonou, including Kano-born Alhaji Mounirou Garba, current Vice President of NIDO and Seriki Hausawa (Head of Hausa community), expressed shock and sadness at the tragedy. Alhaji Mounirou, who was in the French capital, Paris en route Cairo in Egypt; when we reached him over the phone with news of Olujobi’s passage sounded very sad, even as he submissively remarked: “I’m so sad. But, we should all take heart because it is the will of Allah”.

On his part, Chief Emmanuel Uko Elendu, who also holds the traditional title Aka eji eje mba 1 of Alayi, Abia state and worked closely with Olujobi for roughly 10 years as exco members of NIDO; lamented the death of the man, while asking for funeral arrangements. He would later say that even though he had a very tight schedule for Wednesday, May 1; he shall attend the late man’s burial and that we should keep him posted as to the time, when the body will move from the mosque for the cemetery.

Meanwhile, the entire Nigerian community in Cotonou is reeling from shock as news of Baba Olujobi’s passage spread like wild fire during Harmattan across the Beninese economic capital. According to Baba Suleiman Lawal, also Ede-born and Malam Saliou Karim; two money exchangers that shared trading spot with the late Olujobi at Jonquet, remains of the deceased will be intered at a cemetery in the PK 40 area of Cotonou on the way to Hilla Condji, after an Islamic service at a Mosque in Zango.

Although his occupation in the last 20 years of his life was as money exchanger on Rue des Cheminots in the Jonquet neighbourhood of Cotonou, Pa Olujobi spent the early years of his life working as a signwriter and also handled some printing jobs for the Nigerian Army during the civil war.

Fondly called Baba Ede or Baba Rasaki, after his son; Pa Olujobi will be missed by every Nigerian in Cotonou, for he always rose to the occasion; whenever called upon to find solution to any difficulty encountered by Nigerians in the neighbouring country.

We first met Pa Olujobi in 2000 and had found in him a genial elder that frequently offered candid advice for free. We also came to respect him the more because of his cosmopolitan disposition. Though Yoruba, Pa Olujobi was at home with every human being, irrespective of race, religion or creed.

And, when it came to work, he was dead serious and pursued every assignment with a sense of dispatch.

We were there at Halls des Art, Cotonou; when Olujobi et al were formally sworn in as NCU executives in 2004. We were also there, when after handing over the reins of leadership, Elendu, Olujobi and others were given plaques of honour for their exemplary conducts, whilst NCU/NIDO leaders.

And, one can easily recall how Pa Olujobi got everyone laughing, when while receiving his plaque of honour, he had declared: “O, I feel so happy. I have never received any award in my life. Today, I am so happy because of this award.

“If you gave me money, I believe after some time, that money would finish. But, with this award, my children and grandchildren will be proud of me. When they see this plaque on the wall, they will remember that they had a father that lived a worthy life”.
Mr. Wilfred Imasuen, incumbent NIDO Provost, who also served in the same capacity during the Chief Emmanuel Uko Elendu NIDO Presidency, when Pa Olujobi was General Secretary; stated in an early tribute to the departed soul: “I worked with Baba Olujobi and will remember him as a man of astute integrity, epitome of discipline, an exemplary leader and a rare gem. May his soul rest in peace”.

May Allah grant Pa Olujobi’s soul peace…Amiin

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