The residents of Abuja, the federal capital territory have witnessed series of colorful and memorable events within the past few days that will be remarkable in their lives and in the lives of Nigerians. Even as the capital territory was designed with green white and green to mark the country’s golden jubilee, the organizers of the Justice Oputa’s birthday got their brains cracking while ensuring that the much talked about Justice Oputa birthday and the formal launch of the Oputa foundation was a success.
Their efforts yielded positive results as the occasion was graced by the la’crème and big names of the country who came out en-masse to celebrate with Justice Oputa in what was tagged Celebration of Integrity. One very significant thing about the eighty-sixth birthday of the erudite scholar and justice who has always been regarded as the Socrates of our time is that the justice became eighty-six at the time the nation celebrates its golden jubilee, hence justifying the assertion of some analysts that the birthday of the former chief judge of Imo State and Chairman of the then Oputa Panel brings good tidings to the entire country as the country moves into another phase of its political history. The occasion that saw the former president of the federal republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in attendance, had some special fragrance that kept the former Supreme Court judge smiling with his wife, Mrs. Oputa, as the event reeled on. Other eminent Nigerians that stood by the justice while he celebrated this great life of integrity were the former Common Wealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State, Professor ABC Nwosu, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Prof. Dora Akunyuli, Minister of Police Affairs, Mallam Waziri, Ambassador lady Anyanwu, Ebere Okereke as well as the representatives of the former military Head of States, Ibrahim Badamusi Babangida. Also in attendance was the representative of the Obi of Onitsha and other Chiefs from across the country as well as other ministers, judges and law makers. The Occasion which was declared open with a word of prayer had a U.K based M.C, Barrister Edward Emeka (Kizo) as the anchor man. His introduction to the stage by Mr. Mike Dada marked the proper take-off of the justice birthday. This was followed with a brief but beguiling Welcome address from the Chief Organizer of the JOF, Princess Gloria Iweka. In her address, she referred to Justice Oputa as a jurist per excellence who grew like the Iroko tree. According to her, “From humble beginnings in Oguta, Imo State, Papa Oputa grew like the formidable Iroko tree to bestride his chosen profession like the legendary colossus.
The sterling qualities, brilliant performance and outstanding achievements that made this remarkable career possible, shall be elaborated on in greater detail in the course of this event.” Princess Iweka also known by many as mummy princess equally stressed on Justice Oputa’s integrity which justifies the idea of a foundation and the new Oputa panel. Stressing further on the mission and the vision of the foundation, Princess Iweka affirmed that “the Justice Oputa Foundation is a non-governmental organization committed to the eradication of poverty and injustice in our land. It aims to achieve this by establishing and running programs that support good governance, integrity and accountability” While congratulating Justice Oputa for living a life worthy of emulation, the former president , Chief Olusegun Obasanjo had stated that he refused to be called baba as he is fondly called and jokingly asserted that there was only one baba as far as the occasion was concerned; also considering the weight of the celebrant as a major stake-holder of democratic structure and the peace that is being enjoyed today contrary to the grievances that characterized the polity at the transition to civilian administration in 1999 , baba had stated that Justice Oputa’s integrity was totally above all and his “Nigerianess” was above every other Nigerian. The former president had expressed his appreciation to God for protecting the lives of Justice and Mrs. Oputa. Chief Obasanjo had stated that as “Justice and Mrs. Oputa are enjoying their old age, God will make it better and prayed that God makes his lots like theirs” The former president had praised Charlyboy whom he said was the source of his parents good health. According to OBJ, What impressed him most was the image of Charlyboy outside as an entertainer and what he saw at home when he visited justice Oputa in Charlyboy’s resident in Abuja. According to baba, Charlyboy as an entertainer has to be somewhat weird for the sake of entertainment, but at home, he takes care of his father and mother. He congratulated C.B for being a caring son. Stressing further on the role the Justice played in stabilizing the polity, Chief Obasanjo expressed his satisfaction over the manner with which the Oputa Panel was handled from a professional angle and bringing to an end the several complaints and grievances he noticed at the inception of his administration in 1999. According him, the Oputa panel was able to heal most injured souls since the aim of the panel was not to witch-hunt people but to embark on a genuine reconciliation in the land. The former Nigerian leader concluded by thanking Justice Oputa and his team for a job well done and assured the board of the foundation of his readiness to support them in any capacity. In his words “papa justice Oputa, I thank you very much and your team for a job well done” While speaking at the event, the governor of Delta State, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan had expressed his joy for knowing Charlyboy both outside and inside. Meeting Charlyboy at home was another opportunity to access his relationship with his people and his life outside the entertainment world. According to him, while waiting for Charlyboy, he was guaranteed the opportunity to interact with papa and within the few minutes of his interaction with papa, he had learnt so much about Nigeria even through pictures and books. The governor had presented that three things were major that he had learnt from the lives of papa Justice Oputa and his wife. One of which was that through him he had learnt that government was about laws and not human beings; Secondly, he had learnt family value from papa and mama Oputa and emphasized the event was the third time he had seen them together and the love that radiates in them was amazing. Stressing on this point, Governor Oduaghan had disclosed that people should not mind the artistic appearance of Charlyboy since is quite like his father.
The former Secretary General of the Common Wealth of Nations, Chief Emeka Anyoku had also spoken about integrity and the intelligence of Justice Oputa whom he refered to as the Socrates of the court. He equally stressed on the immeasurable roles papa Oputa played while presiding over the Oputa Panel. He emphasized on the uniqueness of the foundation and enjoined all to contribute generously. Mallam Nuhu Ribadu presented a meticulous lecture on leadership and the 21st century; the Missing link. He had emphasized on the importance of good leadership in all sector of life, both in the economy, education, transportation etc. and had call for a change of ideology amongst our leaders. Meanwhile, Justice Oputa, in his remarks expressed his joy over his eighty-six birthday and thanked all for gracing the occasion with him. In his words “I thank God that at eighty-six I can still stand up. I’m grateful to my wife and children.
They have been very-very good. Thank you very much for honoring our invitation. I’m flattered. COMPILED BY ADOYI ABAH ALI