By Femi Salako
At first, it appeared he was heading towards the wrong direction in the labyrinth castle of life.
Cardinal (Dr.) James Omolaja Odunmbaku dedicates his life to Christ and many thought he was lazy and avoiding the challenges of life as if pastoral endeavour is calved for the lazy lots.
But he proved them wrong when in 1966, after his secondary education, he got a job at Millet Nigeria Limited as a Clerical Assistant in Lagos, having left his country home, Abeokuta, now the capital of Ogun State.
Among the organizations he traversed, while creating a niche for himself, are Dunlop Nigeria Limited as a Supervisor, a Director in Everly Brothers and Personal Assistant to the Managing Director, Nigeria Maritime Services.
Ultimately, he floated his first firm, Bakujofam Nigeria Limited, which has been accompanied by another set of firms, a feat he achieved divine intervention and his dexterity, zeal, hard work, commitment, and passion.
Making money is sacrosanct, but Cardinal Odunmbaku has a caring-heart and created a means of uplifting the underprivileged through provisions he made on the platform of his Foundations.
He established Centre for Humanitarian Support, a Non-Governmental Organization, mainly to fight against the menace of drug abuse.
The Centre sensitises young folks on drug abuse menace as it goes round primary and post-primary private and public schools.
The James Omoloja Odunmbaku Foundation, another non-profit-making organization established by the clergy, takes care of people with heart-related ailments that require surgury.
The Foundation provides funds for treatment, surgeries of such critical, life-threaning diseases.
Omolaja also has a space in his heart for brilliant but indigent students who he grants scholarship for them to achieve their dreams.
Despite his strive to make life better for himself and his family, Omolaja didn’t rest his passion and love for God’s work.
In the last 16 years, he has not failed to organise annual inter-religious and inter-denominational prayer conference for intercession for Lagos State and Nigeria for peace, progress and development.
He does this through Christ Ambassadors Soul Winners Ministry, which he founded for divine purposes.
No doubt, there have been testimonies that the prayer confab has contributed greatly to the meteoric development in Lagos State.
He’s also the Founder of the Celestial Church of Christ, City of God, Akiode, Lagos, a center of powerful manifestation of God’s power and glory.
Traversing the political terrain, Omolaja was appointed Patron of Lagos State Community Development Council in 1992. He has been a pivot of development in the community as he effectively galvanizes residents towards harmonious and peaceful co-existence.
It is interesting to note that his flair for mobilizing people at the grassroots for political strength and development has earned him the sobriquet, ‘Baba Eto,’ in the political circle both in Lagos and beyond.
His political journey has seen him become a prominent member of the Unity Party of Nigeria(UPN) from 1978 to 1983; Special Adviser, Hope 93’ of the Social Democratic Party; Vice Chairman, Lagos West, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN); Deputy Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC) Lagos State Chapter; and member, Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC) from 2003 till date through which he offers beneficial strategies on good governance in Lagos State.
In the political circle in Lagos and at the national level, Omolaja is popularly known as a thoroughbred grassroots mobilizer, remarkable strategist and a formidable force to be reckoned with.
His contributions to nation’s development in terms of community activism, conflict resolution, grassroots mobilization, leadership, and human resources management can not be over emphasised.
The decision of the National Honours Committee to bestow on Cardinal Odunmbaku today the national honour, Member of the Federal Republic (MFR), which was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, is in recognition of his priceless contributions to the development of the nation and services to humanity.
By Femi Salako