The world at this point is in dire straits and requires the love and intervention of genuinely good people. If I hold back this celebration of relentless good in a dark world, of what use will it be? Here’s therefore to wish you a very long and fulfilling life ahead as you clock 55, Bamidele Ademola-Olateju. I will celebrate you. Always!

‘I sauntered in, making my way through young boys around the swimming pool at the Tango Towers in Ikoyi.

“Big Sheg” (as we fondly call Chief Segun Odegbami also, known as Mathematical) had invited me to the birthday of his son. My chaperone led me into the inner room where the Big Boys were. Yinka was the first to see me. ”Teju! Aha! God brought you into my orbit today, what did I do to you to warrant such an attack on my person? Have I ever offended you personally? Have I ever insulted you? Should we forget that we are friends due to political differences?…”

I was flustered and I responded. “Calm down my friend! Are you trying to ridicule me in front of these gentlemen or are you trying to unsettle me?” I pulled a chair and moved to introduce myself and shake the man seated to my left. The man stood up, gave a reassuring smile and said; “We know you, your reputation precedes you.”‘

She wrote the foregoing about the late Yinka Odumakin, in a reflection on a relationship that was deep and sincere. A relationship she took beyond political differences. If your political leaning does not align with hers, she does not begrudge you, she accommodates ideological dissent but abhors political toxins.

On March 18, 2018, at the shocking exit of Pius Adesanmi, she wrote, “His birth lent him to me, and his existence and friendship showed myself to me. Sometimes, as we journey through life’s meandering courses, we meet that person who completes a part we never thought missing and we become kin with them. Then, you grow up together, year on year, sharing life’s triumphs and frustrations. That is when you realise the bond of kinship, the conviviality of sprit and a sense of security in each other’s company. He was my friend at play and my comrade in arms. The only one I tap when I get to E. T. C – End of Thinking Capacity. Pius Adesanmi tended the shriveled cotyledons of my late literary sprout, guiding it towards light and it blossomed. One day in May of 2014, he told Musikilu Mojeed of PREMIUM TIMES, “I have a writer for you”. After telling him, he gave me an hour to send him my first column. I muttered: ‘column!’ ‘One hour!’ It was 8 p.m. in Nigeria. I went to work. When he gave orders, I obeyed; and when I gave orders, he obeyed. With him I understood the psychology of a positive mutually reinforcing relationship.

Back in December, while the nation was deep in the throes of difficulties, from COVID recovery to economic challenges, to security concerns, she was in the country, crisscrossing the states and engaging with those who matter on what solutions to proffer to the nation’s gargantuan challenges.

Most people know Professor Pius Adesanmi, the University teacher, author, writer, public commentator, activist etc. I know Pius, just Pius”!

Yes, to her, Pius was just PIUS! The relationship transcended walls and borders. When Pius Adesanmi’s burial plans were revving up, I was on a particular committee’s WhatsApp platform, coordinated by the former Chief Press Secretary to Kogi State governor, Petra Akinti Onyegbule, Kyke Davies, Abimbola Olujide, Folake Oyetosho etc, while these good people worked round the clock to accord Pius a befitting burial, her footprint  was equally everywhere till she arrived in Nigeria. Such a genial soul.

February 24, 2015, for the love of the nation, she wrote: “The indiscriminate sharing of Nigeria’s money to buy the elections shows us that Mr. Jonathan gets it – there is no stopping the CHANGE we have embraced and that is a good thing in itself. One more thing he needs to learn is that; whatever he does, the Nigerian people will always win in the end.“ Does this hopefully invalidate the puerile judgement of those who accuse her of not loving Nigeria because she’s demanding good governance from the current crop of leaders who are busy squandering away goodwill? In fact, on June 7, 2018, she referred to herself as a “recovering Buharist”.

Back in December, while the nation was deep in the throes of difficulties, from COVID recovery to economic challenges, to security concerns, she was in the country, crisscrossing the states and engaging with those who matter on what solutions to proffer to the nation’s gargantuan challenges. From state governors to Channels TV to her premium columns, her love for Nigeria has never been in doubt. Precisely on December 21, 2020, she had a long Zoom meeting with our team on ways to rally round support for our work, which costs a lot of volunteering sacrifice.

On March 30 this year, she was with me inbox asking that “we talk soon” again on the same concern. This is who she is. And as stated in the quotes above, this is how she relates. Deep beyond platitudes, and smiles beyond plastic; a self sacrificing lamb.

However, the real import was not that she won. It was that because she radiates love, unforced love always comes back to her. On May 2, I read the emotionally-worded and rich prose of Mr. Ademola Olateju, and I could only imagine what it must feel like to cohabit with such an invaluable gift.

All of these border around one thing: She loves her nation and loves her people. Humanity is her race and love is her religion. In the words of Roy T. Bennett, there’s “some sweet innocence around her and she’s the reason many feel loved”.

On social media, she commands tremendous respect, not because she puts on any airs. It’s actually because she lets down guards. When she’s not dropping compelling lines from a rigorous intellect at the stratospheric heights the only the likes of PREMIUM TIMES command, she’s right there on Facebook joining modelling competitions with those who fondly rever her as “Auntie”, or cracking away heart-bursting jokes across her friends’ walls. She’s classy in status but classless to humanity.

There was a day that a mutual friend hosted a modelling competition, and she came with such admirable enthusiasm in positive thrusts of healthy mischief, playing around with everyone but beating them all to it. Facebook went agog as her followers voted en masse, and she took the price away. The picture above is what won with.

However, the real import was not that she won. It was that because she radiates love, unforced love always comes back to her. On May 2, I read the emotionally-worded and rich prose of Mr. Ademola Olateju, and I could only imagine what it must feel like to cohabit with such an invaluable gift.

The world at this point is in dire straits and requires the love and intervention of genuinely good people. If I hold back this celebration of relentless good in a dark world, of what use will it be? Here’s therefore to wish you a very long and fulfilling life ahead as you clock 55, Bamidele Ademola-Olateju. I will celebrate you. Always!

Akin Fadeyi is the founder of Akin Fadeyi Foundation.

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