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What Obasanjo’s government does with the Oputa report is its headache, I have finished my duty – Justice Oputa

Posted by By AZUH AMATUS on 2005/06/06 | Views: 454 |

What Obasanjo’s government does with the Oputa report is its headache, I have finished my duty – Justice Oputa


Eminent jurist and chairman of defunct Oputa panel, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, is among the few retired Supreme Court justices in Nigeria that are revered and respected within and outside our shores.

Eminent jurist and chairman of defunct Oputa panel, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, is among the few retired Supreme Court justices in Nigeria that are revered and respected within and outside our shores.

Daily Sun cornered him at the pre-planning media briefing by his equally famous son, Charly Boy, on the occasion of the African Transparency Award bestowed on him alongside other Nigerians recently.

A visibly elated “senior” Oputa took out time to answer intimate questions about his weird and controversial son, the award, some family secrets, PMAN, Oputa panel and even the on-going national conference, of which he is also a member.
He also talked passionately about the place of music in his life.

On Charly Boy and Transparency Award
We rejoice when we see someone who is rightly and justly elevated, it is good. But if it the usual accolade that we shower to people who don’t deserve it, it’s not worth much. If they think he is an example of transparency and the award is to say thank you for the way you have lived and behaved, then it will be most welcome and then you feel proud of it. We are talking about this same thing in the anti-corruption war today. I have knighthoods. I’m a knight Commander of Saint Mulumba and Sylvester (by Pope), even knight Commander of Gregory The Great. I don’t answer Sir, and it is not necessary. So, if the award is merited, it is very good, but if it is the usual thing in Nigeria, where we pay for an award, it is not worth celebrating. But if they think he merits it, it is a very good challenge because everybody is talking about transparency. Everybody is talking about accountability… if we change, Nigeria will change. No nation can change until it recognizes change. Like bribery and corruption, it takes two to offer and accept and if all of us decide not to, it will die. We are very keen on criticizing others and not ourselves. Corruption pervades every section of our society. It is very good if we start from the top. So, I’m very, very happy, I rejoice with him if they think he merited it not as bribery but for appreciating what he has been done.

Does Charly Boy merit the award?
Yes, with what he has been doing so far. He couldn’t have bribed all the members of the international award. If it is merited yes, but if it is bought no. I’m sure he did not buy it; he could not even buy it. Most of these awards create more responsibilities for you to be more cautious, more tactful, more dedicated and more focused. It is a challenge.

Views On Charly Boy as PMAN president
If he is able to hold his office then, he is capable of leading PMAN. When he went to America, he didn’t go to do what he is doing now. He came and started from the scratch all on his own. Maybe, not even supported by us, because we didn’t know when he moved to Lagos. (Laughs). If you can do that, then you can do more. What a man can achieve depends on the surrounding circumstances that may help or hinder. Nigeria is a very funny place that many of the people around you pull you down. I call it Pull The House or Him Down (PHD).

His assessment of Charly Boy as a leader
As a leader, he has done well for himself and PMAN. He has transformed their Lagos office. When I visited I saw lots of changes from his office to the entire building. I saw two generators. I later asked him how he did all these, he laughed. That is what I think Nigeria needs, somebody who knows where he is going. Once you have that focus and will, reaching there will be easy. The problem we have in Nigeria is that many people want to enjoy without working. I think Charly Boy deserves a credit for turning PMAN around. A moderate credit for the little he has done so far.

Charly Boy as a rascal or eccentric
Well, it all depends. His daughter said Charly Boy is another creation that her dad is Charles Oputa. So, you have to distinguish between Charly Boy and Charles Oputa. My own son is Charles Oputa and not Charly Boy… Sometimes, he does certain things because he wants to please certain audience. When I was complaining about his wearing two different colours of shoes, I couldn’t get through with that easily. When he was painting his hair with different colours, you know what he told me, I’m not dressing to please you, my fans like it, I give them what they like. He did those things consciously to get support from those who want him to look like that.

Comparison between father and son
Some of his eccentricisms, I don’t have them because I’m not a comedian, not in his industry. I’ve only been Chief Judge of a High Court; I was also a principal of a secondary school. These two you may call leadership positions. Whether I discharge myself creditably there is not for me to say. But we are all leaders one way or the other. Leadership is a very challenging position. It requires a lot of foresight, courage, thick skin, you will be criticized fairly or unfairly, you have to digest all of them, and you cannot run away from it. You have to take the good and the bad together and keep your head when others are losing theirs. Why give yourself high blood pressure that you may not recover from easily. It is good to take things as they come. But make sure you take the correct decisions, it is very important.

Response to Charly Boy’s early weird lifestyles?
I didn’t understand. But he kept telling me I’m not dressing to please you, I want to please my fans. He created a character and wanted to portray that character in some light. It takes some courage to be what you are not. People didn’t like it, they complained to me. I didn’t like it either. I called him and when he gave me the answer that he wasn’t dressing to please me but to please his fans. Unless you do something out of the ordinary, you won’t attract attention. Extraordinary ways attract attentions, but keep your head, don’t lose your head, when you have made a point, you return to sanity. You have to be mad sometimes to achieve some things, once you have achieved it, come back to normalcy.

Ever thought of disowning Charly Boy then?
No! This is somebody who wants something done, you may not agree with him on the way, but if the result is what he wants to achieve, then you concede to him. That he had the courage to be outlandish is not easy. Know where you are going, but when you have arrived there, return to normalcy and then people will start asking questions and wondering. That is a riddle that most artistes have. Look at Wole Soyinka’s look. The only difficulty is coming back to where you ought to be after getting what you desired. If you continue beyond that target, then it is not good enough.

As a Catholic knight, is he comfortable with Charly Boy’s new religion, Hare Krishna?
Once a catholic, always a catholic you can’t run away, you will come back. Saint Augustine did the same thing; he put his hands in so many pies in an attempt to find God. He came back and said our hearts are made for thee oh! Lord…Charly Boy is doing exploration. He will come back. No catholic ever leaves the church permanently. After experimenting they finally come back to the same faith. I’m not saying this because I’m a catholic. Every other Christian religion came out from catholic. They are just diversions, in the heart Charly Boy is still a catholic.

His description of Charly Boy
I will describe him as Charles Oputa, Charly Boy. As Charles Oputa, he has not done badly at all. As Charly Boy, he is trying to make a mark. It is for you to judge whether he has made it or not. And making a mark is a continuous process. When you are gone posterity can then write your achievements, whether you have made it or not. Let us watch and see when he lands, whether he has made a mark.

Place of music in his life?
A very good one, you got me. I won’t blame Charly Boy at all for taking to music. When I was young; I had every record that was released then. I still have them gathered in my house. I have more than 500 tapes. I bought a piano for them, when they were young, between six and seven. The piano is still there, maybe, that was why he got interested in music. Music is something, which we all love to understand and enjoy. It is one of the things that gives you pleasure. I have been a lover of music from a very early age. There are all sorts of musical equipment in my house in Oguta. From GB one to 50, they are all there. You develop a taste for classical music when you get older. What can be better than an Alleluia chorus? Music is a very potent factor in anybody’s life. I don’t think there is anybody who does not like music; it all depends on what type of music.

Views on piracy as a legal giant
It is not only PMAN’s headache, its all our headaches. I have published more than six books and have not earned a penny from any of the publications. A student of Law once came to me and told me that their lecturer at the school photocopied a chapter of the book, which is no longer in circulation and sold it for N55, 000, each to them. When I published the book in 1968, it was sold for only Five Naira per copy. Piracy is a virus, which affects every owner of a creative work. They have had something about it in the house against piracy, but how do you enforce it. Not easy. It a terrible constraint and headache to every publisher or record label owner…
Advice to Charly Boy and his team?
First of all, good leadership, good followership. If you have people who share similar ideas with you, you are there to see that this thing is a success. My advice to them is to work as a team. It is teamwork; it is not easy to do it alone.

Views on the media
Unfortunately, I don’t even read newspapers. The publications are true in the morning, doubtful in the afternoon and false in the evening… Terrible the things they wrote about the on-going conference. They said they bribed all of us. I haven’t seen any bribe, at least not my committee. But you know that is not true. Why are they bribing them. It is wrong! I don’t read the newspapers. If I switch on the radio I have the editorials, which should be enough.

On National Political Reform Conference
I told them at the plenary session that nothing said so far is new. They’ve all been said. What is important is the implementation. I have conducted so many inquiries for the government, both federal and states. Only one of them, when Murtala was alive, was the one they gave me two weeks to come and defend my report… Others you submit your reports and something happens. Kayode Eso and myself did one on corruption in the judiciary and somebody told us to our faces that the report will not see the light of the day. His brother was one of those we recommended to be sacked and it did not see the light of the day till date. So, conducting an inquiry is one thing, recommending is another thing and implementation is the most important.

Any regrets on Oputa panel?
Like the Oputa Panel, it has not been implemented because some people went to court. Those who were recommended, either to be dismissed or not to be allowed to hold political offices till after certain years felt personally aggrieved and went to court. … A lot of people have been asking how I feel about Oputa panel. How did I feel? My duty was to submit the report, finish! After that, what they do with it is their own headache. And I don’t blame them. A report may not be politically convenient at the time you want to publish it. A man who sets up enquiry has to decide what and when to publish it… I have finished my job; it is their own job, if they publish it okay! What we wanted to show was what the army did to us…

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Comments (3)

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Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

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Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown