I met Prof. Okojie for the first time after my election as the President of the Students’ Union of the University in 2000. The Dean, Student Affairs, Prof. C.F.I. Onwuka had led the new executives of the Students’ Union to the Vice- Chancellor for introduction. Incidentally, myself and Prof. Okojie, the Vice- Chancellor, were from the same Department but he never thought me. He was already at the top echelon of University administration. What ordinarily was supposed to be a cool and calm environment became tensed as Prof. Okojie was firing from all cylinders arising from a development prior to the election. As a newly elected President and Commander in Chief of Aluta Forces, I had ventilated my candid opinion and it was like pouring petrol in a burning fire. I certainly did not know his person. In the cotemporary parlance, Prof Okojie can rake for Africa with no ominous intention. That maiden meeting was inconclusive as it ended abruptly! The rough- ride began.
I remember vividly some of his words during that time.
“ My dear, when you see a police man carrying a gun, just call him an Officer, his head will swell up and you will go your way. Never struggle with a policeman o”
“ My dear, I learnt you were traveling around in the night on this Nigerian roads. Please don’t do it again o, the roads are not safe”
“ Mr. President, you are going about doing Aluta and the security operatives are disturbing me, you think you are doing me evil. NO NO NO. It is your University, I am just passing by”
We would just laugh and go our way but now I understand better.
Prof. Okojie is an affable character. I remember him calling may be his children or visitors out one day at the lodge to come and greet Mr. President. He had respect for everyone.
After my tenure as President, we met at Abuja while I was observing the compulsory NYSC and he had yelled “ So, you are in Abuja for NYSC and you cannot come and greet me”. He is a relationship person. I made two unsuccessful attempts and soon realized that the office of an Executive Secretary, NUC is significantly different from that of a VC.
Our next meeting was a day in 2002 that I incidentally met him and the incumbent VC then at the basement of the Senate building. He had come to the University for something. I greeted him and the next thing was what are you doing now. I told him I was in for MSc. As if he had rehearsed the situation, he sharply told the VC “ You cannot have this boy around and not employ him”. That statement midwifed the thought of the possibility of staying in UNAAB which was NEVER on my radar.
Prof. Okojie has meaningfully impacted lives. He meant well for everyone . It is left for us to imbibe the virtues. There is an aspect of him that is silent – He is a philanthropist. According to a friend, his monumental philanthropic gestures abound in many communities in Abuja. We wish him good health and sound mind to
enjoy his retirement.