Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has said he does not want to be remembered for easing the international passport issuance processes alone as a minister.
He, however, said he would prefer to be known for securing the nation’s borders against those he described as external aggressors and arms traffickers.
Mr Tunji-Ojo said this at the weekend when he was hosted by his friends and old schoolmates at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, where the minister spent a session before travelling to the United Kingdom for studies.
“I don’t want to be remembered for addressing the bottlenecks with the issuance of international passports when I leave office. That is not the core mandate of my office. There are so much more. But I want to be remembered for securing Nigerian borders and enhancing internal security,” he said.
International passport as a right
The minister said he regretted that the issuance of international passport passport for qualified Nigerians had for long been seen as a privilege, noting that it is a right for deserving every Nigerian who can afford it.
He, however, said the core mandates of his ministry include the protection of Nigerians through border security, managing the people’s identity, making the custodial centres livable, and ensuring that fire incidences and other emergencies are addressed promptly and professionally.
He said efforts are being made to provide the required tools and gadgets at various border posts and airports to monitor real-time the activities of the movement of people and goods “as it is done in advanced countries of the world.”
“With adequate technology we can achieve much and we will do just that to maintain sanity and identify every individual visiting our country and those going out of the country. That is the vision of President Bola Tinubu, and this is what we will achieve,” he added.
He pleaded with Nigerians to be patient with Mr Tinubu-led administration, saying all “Ts” are currently being crossed and “Is” being dotted, insisting that the country is on its part to reclaim the lost glory.
The minister, who expressed happiness to be reunited with his old friends and associates, noted that his love for Obafemi Awolowo University almosted discouraged him from accepting his foreign university admission when he had only spent about a session on the campus.
He told the gathering, which was graced by top officials of various agencies under his watch, that the friends who had gathered were not his friends as ministers but “friends of Bunmi Tunji-Ojo.”
He said; “From the days of K Block in Angola Hall, to Awo Annex and our apartment in town where I lived with Abiodun Omole at Akarabata area, the memories of Ife cannot be easily wished away.
“I remember the politics of the campus- the rivalry between the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) and the Pacesetters Movement, and the guidance from my people like the then deputy speaker of the students’ representative council- Bro Felix Ogunmade, among others.”
The minister heaped praises on Remi Yemi-Omole- wife of Abiodun Yemi-Omole, his roommate at Akarabata area while in OAU, saying the woman who was his friend’s girlfriend at the time, made schooling easier for him by taking care of the home.
The minister said he believes nothing is too much to do for his friends, saying as much as he doesn’t like to be in Lagos always, he honoured one of the organisers, Mojeed Alabi, to visit Lagos twice in a week.
Mr Tunji-Ojo had earlier on Monday visited the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, where he was a guest at the opening ceremony of the institution’s third International Week conference with the theme: “Breaking the Border of Partnership.”
“That is the power of friendship. Mojeed successfully brought me to Lagos twice in a week. This accounts for about 20 per cent of my trips to Lagos in many years,” he said.
He recalled his past relationships with many of the friends in attendance, and especially Anthony Aregbe, now a lawyer, who he said they both grew up on the same street in Akure, Ondo State capital.
Why the gathering?
Speaking on behalf of the friends, both Mr Ogunmade, a lawyer, and Mr Alabi, reiterated the good memories of the minister shared by many of friends even when they had not seen him for many years.
According to Mr Ogunmade, the minister’s brilliance, courage and political consciousness, had attracted him while in school and as a student’s union leader he had volunteered to mentor him.
Mr Ogunmade said; “So when we learnt BTO’s mother wanted him to relocate abroad because of the persistent industrial strike on our campus, we plotted to discourage the old woman, and Bunmi asked me to travel to Ibadan to discuss with his mum.
“Stupidly I went to meet the old woman and mummy respectfully thanked me and told me her struggles to get the best for her son but that when she was done with the papers, Bunmi could decide whether to travel or not.”
He said it was at that point that he “regained his senses” that he had embarked on an ill-thought-out mission.
Other friends in attendance also spoke glowingly about the minister, recalling their past relationship with him.
In attendance at the event was the Head of Media and External Relations for the United Bank for Africa (UBA), Ramon Nasir; the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Integrated Indigo Limited, Bolaji Abimbola, and the Assistant Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service in charge of Lagos and Ogun States, Kehinde Sadiq.
Also in attendance were the Commandant for the Lagos Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Usman Alfadarai; his counterpart at Nigeria’s Correctional Service, Ben-Rabbi Freedman, and the Comptroller of NIS at the Muritala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Adeola Adesokan, among others.BEWARE All Rights Reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without prior express written permission from Juliana Francis