By Bose Bamidele
viewpoint IN BRIEF
The ice water boy that rose to prominence
Rags to riches stories are not uncommon in this part of the world, they abound everywhere and in different categories. Many great men have tales of humble beginnings to tell, a fact that buttresses the saying that ‘nothing good comes easy’. It is even a common saying here that ‘He who craves to be tall would not mind to have tiny legs’. So, it is believed that greatness and success come carrying a huge baggage of sorry tales.
While many tell their grass to grace stories to the world to give strength to failing hearts and burdened souls, others do so to gloat and brag from their new position of strength, wealth or power, whichever the case is. More often than not, these tales of rags to riches reflect hard work, diligence, perseverance and staunch determination!
Such is the story of Honourable Tajudeen Obasa, the honourable member representing the Ojo Federal Constituency. A man whose story of glory is not just encouraging but also a challenge to many youths. Obasa never waited for opportunities, he grabbed them. He never waited for windfalls, he created them. While others were dreaming with their eyes tightly shut on king sized beds, his dreams followed him everywhere, even on the streets!
Blaring horns could not stop him from dreaming, no, he dreamt everyday until his dreams materialized.
At quite an early age, TJ, as he was fondly called, realized his ends would not meet if he kept waiting for his struggling parents to do everything for him. The young lad knew he could not forfeit education no matter what his situation dictated, he had to create his own tunes and dance to the outcome, he grabbed his fate with both hands and made some life changing decisions that did just that-changed his life!
Ojo and environs would not forget in a hurry that a 13year old lad who knocked on their doors on scorching sunny afternoons to give them succour in the burning heat with glee in his eyes as he serviced them.
While on otherwise rainy days, when his services might not be really needed, he still lurked by their doors but this time without the sureness of the sunny days!
What services did TJ bring to their doors? ‘Iced Water’! For those who grew up in the late 80s and 90s, the phrase iced water should ring a bell and bring funny memories of a time long gone. These days in its place, we have the sachet water popularly known as ‘pure water’. Well, TJ didn’t hawk pure water but iced water. Iced water was processed right in rooms, or kitchens or corridors! All you needed was water, forget its portability, a cup, some nylon wraps and you have a business. Whether iced or not, it was basically referred to as ‘iced water’
And this was how Obasa became known on the streets of Ojo by everyone he serviced.
However, his dreams followed him even as he chanted the lyrics that brought him closer to everyone ‘Ice water tutu ree’ (meaning: here comes Iced water) He knew what he wanted for himself, so, while he chanted rhymes and arithmetic’s in the classrooms of Awori College, Ojo in the mornings, he hawked his goods in the afternoons and evenings piling his wooden bank with coins daily.
“Fingers are not equal” as the popular saying goes, and this implies that we all can not have rich or influential parents who would pave the way for us while we tread without fear of slipping or stumbling. Tajudeen’s parents were not rich, not even remotely so. They were struggling people who only wished they could do all they could not do.
Even at his young age, he already had a slogan that made everyone refer to him as ‘the councilor’
As he grew, he began to channel his energy towards the cause of young people within his immediate community and his neighbors. He became largely involved in politics at a very early stage and at every phase, his vision was the same. “To contribute his quota towards realizing the dream of a vibrant legislature that is fully aware of its rights, duties and responsibilities to the people it has pledged to represent”
His humble beginnings did not drive him far from God, it drew him closer to his maker, religious. Obasa knows how to serve his God!
Behold, the iced water lad in the National Assembly to put a stop to the iced water days… “I know, it will take time and I am glad that we have time…poverty will be a thing of the past soon. We’ll make an entrepreneur of everyone” That was TJ’s urge recently to some youths he mentors.
No matter how tattered your rags are, never mind, you probably had them since they were new and there is a big chance they would be new again. My own rags were really tattered and I pledge that if I can help it, our rag days are over…he admonished.
Today, Parents in Ojo community tap their children when they complain and say “Oori Taju?” (Don’t you see Taju)
The young ones are reminded daily of where and how he started and they have no reason to murmur or grumble.
TJ is the son of Ojo, he is their pride and their hope. He has promised a candle for all the dark days of that community and they wait patiently for him just like they waited when he promised ‘Iced water’ for every sunny day.
He fulfilled his promises and soothed their parched throats, he will fulfil it again this time to men, women and children of Ojo federal constituency!
* Bamidele lives in Lagos.