By Segun O’Law
I still find it difficult to agree with that sad news. But others have agreed and continued to send in condolences. I wish I was only dreaming to wake soon. This is not 1st of April, and such is even unacceptable a stunt, too scary for any date. It would not be Bamidele Aturu, or not this soon.
For Aturu, Nigeria was a sickly country, and must be ‘doctored’ to live. Recently, Aturu rejected to partake in the National Confab, even though he had been part of the voices calling for the big family meeting (apology to Prof. Akin Oyebode). I remember he asserted, during one of my two encounters with him, about time the confab was to begin. He said that he was not going to take part in any jamboree to mock a genuine Sovereign National Conference (SNC), but only a conference that is premised on genuine interest aimed at creating real solutions.
He was not convinced the ongoing confab holds any prospect to steer Nigeria forward in the right direction, he insisted that it was a mere ‘mockery’ of what genuine progressives had clamored for. BamideleAturu believed, and strongly too, that the necessary preconditions to frantically ‘re-launch’ a Nigeria nation were missing in the terms and conditions that created the confab.
Hence, even though he wanted the inevitable conference to hold, he saw no green light emanating from the enabling chamber, only an imitation lever. He could discern the bait, so he ignored it. Not even with the Confab’s lucrative monetary rewards, it would not court him.
Mr. Bamidele (Conscience) Aturu, he would rather be quiet, and watch how a jamboree ends, than to join a train of deception and giving vain assurances to Nigerians that the conference was their trump card, for a much-desired change.
In one interview with him at his office, in Lagos, where we were to discuss achievements of former National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS) president Segun Okeowo of the “Ali must go” fame, I remember the first question I put to him. The answer he gave immediately helped shaped the way I take up every challenge.
“Let’s discuss the Ali-must-go struggle. Who was Ali, and has Ali gone?” was my question.
Apart from explaining that the protest theme, “Ali-must-go,” was symbolic, Aturu averred that no single struggle in life was ever comprehensive in itself, not to require other complement struggles to make a long lasting impact.
He offered, however, that each struggle makes its own impact by “contributing to the body of democracy.”
Those words suggest that not every fight that is issued and started, necessarily wins all at once. But, rather, would either lay the foundation for the building, or contribute one block or two, to the edifice of change.
He said a few more things, but I took that quote more importantly and used it as my own motivation. That motivation being, that I may fight, and not necessarily win immediately, but by the effort, I would affect how that phenomenon happens next time.
While we were leaving after the interview, Aturu gave our crew pieces of Church leaflets, preaching Christ to us. I told him I needed not be newly introduced to Christ. However, I hinted to him that I am not a “Churchian (my euphemism for churchgoers).” He wanted us to talk more about it, but it was late, and I must catch the next bus before too late that evening.
While he accompanied us, I dropped a quick one, “My own religion is my conscience, and that is the crux of the gospel Jesus and Mohammed preached… God is not a Christian and He is not a Muslim…”
While I spoke on, he left us with one statement, ignoring whether we heard it before or not. “The most important (thing), he said, is where you spend the eternity and faith in God through Jesus Christ guarantees that.” I knew from there, he was more interested in “life after death”.
For me, though, apparently, everyone that has lived most portions of their lives in a country like Nigeria should deserve another life – after death.
Aturu lived every day of his life in the small room of his conscience. A true Christian, than just a “Churchian.” I have only seen but a few of his like. Most are “Churchians,” but they are also rogues – not Christians.
I remember him leading commercial bike (Okada) riders to court, against Governor Fashola’s arbitrary ban on their means of livelihood, without provision of alternative.
I also recall one day, I was to interview Prince Jide Kosoko of Nollywood fame, on the set of a movie shoot (the film was titled, “Father Moses”) somewhere around Ebute Meta, and Mr. Babatunde Omidina (a.ka. Baba Suwe) was also on the same location.
Baba Suwe’s mood suddenly changed, and I asked him what was wrong. He quietly announced that the court had just upturned the verdict, which was initially in his favor against the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) that had detained him for several days on the pretext that he ingested hard drugs for export . But that his lawyer, Mr. Bamidele Aturu, had vowed to continue to fight to reverse the court ruling. That did not move me, until, on another occasion, where Baba Suwe declared that, “only God will reward lawyer Bamidele Aturu for me.” Baba Suwe explained that Mr. Aturu did most of the legal work for him for free.
Quite sure, most other people whom I did not have personal encounters with for their testimonies, would have similar things to say.
Hmmm… I’m still hoping to wake up, and realize I was only dreaming about coming across the sad news. Argghh… Aturu, that news should not be you, at least not yet.
Though, we are immortals, yea. But it’s rather too short a life. Aturu exited at only 49… A great life lived, however short the time. A life that denied premium to self-concern, but which made personal sacrifice its paramount principle deserves a million commendations.
Aturu’s life reminds that a life is not about the chronological age spent, but the achievements lived for or cause died for.
Indeed, Aturu contributed his own quota to the building of democracy. He was true to the cause, and for his own part of the cause, he was thorough.
If this news continues as true, may your conscientious soul Rest in Peace.
With a heavy heart,