Thursday, March 25, 2021 9:44 pm
By Simbo Olorunfemi
When the news of the visit by Vice President Osinbajo to the billion Naira Nasarawa Farm being run by Retson Tedheke broke, it got quite a few ‘busy’ minds engaged with all colours of speculations. From the true value of the farm, to some suggesting the VP as an investor in the project, to how the visit came about, nothing was off the mills. It was a free-for-all.
But sitting down with Retson, he explained how the visit by the VP to his farm came to be. Someone had visited the farm. Impressed by what he saw, the guy promised to bring a friend of his to visit. That friend, Senator Babafemi Ojudu. He visited 2 weeks after and was so overwhelmed at the level of work there. That set off the process which led to the visit by the Vice President a few weeks after.
That captures, for me, one side of Egbon Femi Ojudu, that makes him what he is. To him, all he needs to see or hear is the idea. Is it a brilliant one?Is it innovative? Is it beneficial to the society? A good idea just gets him excited. It does not matter from whom. It does not matter to him who you are, he is ever ready to go. He immediately starts thinking, telling you how far you can go with it. He starts talking about facilitating an opening for you. It doesn’t really matter, to him, who you are. He has such keen eyes for the future – always interested in technology and innovation.
I have shared a few ideas/project plans with him, over a few decades and his response is almost always the same – straight to the point, business-like, ‘let’s go there’ words of affirmation. Most importantly, it is always NEVER about ‘something in it for him. For a fact, the one time I can recollect ever getting him offended was when I went back to him with a gift, in appreciation, for facilitating for us a project. He was irritated that I could even have such thought that he needed more than words of appreciation. And that was 20 years ago.
Politics and power, especially, changes people. I dare say, it has not changed him. He has not changed. He has remained true to himself and his values. He has remained the same Oga, who we would access his office and work there, for hours, with him present or not.
Before the concept of mentorship became as established as it is now, he took on that role effortlessly. I do not consider myself qualified in drawing up a list of those he has facilitated opportunities for, especially among those of the ACME/Ijaiye school. But I remember how he ensured opportunities for some of us in 99, with Funmi Iyanda, Sanya Ojikutu, McVon Emmans, Hilda Oti, myself and others having one role or the other to play in the inauguration ceremonies.
Politics. As I have often explained, there is the place of power and that of influence.Many people of influence are hardly ever known, nor the true extent of their reach or role ever recognised or acknowledged. Not many know how influential he is or some of the roles he has played, largely behind the scene. He never carries himself like one with influence. He does not throw his weight around.
He is content doing his bit, behind the scene, making things happen, facilitating openings and opportunities for people with ideas, irrespective of who you are or where you hail from. He would rather teach or facilitate how to fish rather than give you fish.
Thank you for all the good you do, Egbon.