Charles Oputa, the convener of Na We Be Government celebrated his 68th birthday with inmates at Ikoyi prison.
In his own words, he said
“I had the most memorable of all Birthday party’s ever in my life. I spent the day with inmates at Ikoyi Prison”.
But why of all places in the whole wide world would Charly Boy, the Area Fada choose Ikoyi Prison for a venue to celebrate his birthday?
He explains that it was all borne out of his human feeling for the ordinary every day and down-trodden folks that people the Nigerian space. Waxing biblical, Charly Boy states that God’s charge to His creation is to love one another selflessly, even as he expresses disgust that the world presently is bereft of this God-sanctioned value.
While interacting with inmates and warders of Ikoyi Prison, Charly Boy’s sadness is written all over him on learning the flimsy reasons for their continued stay in the facility which revolves around their inability to pay as an infinitesimal amount ranging between =N=3,000.00 and =N=10,000.00.
As the visit during which he and his associates including Edi Lawani lasted, ambivalence crept into it all as Charly Boy became elated over the huge talent exhibited by many of the prison inmates in the area of creativity typified in music, craft, visual art, dance among others.
The Area Fada did not hesitate to admonish his hosts about the need to be rugged, enduring, hopeful and positive despite their being incarcerated for crimes they did or did not commit, pointing out that he had been a prisoner before. His audience hardly understood his analogy. Elucidating on it, Charly Boy stated that “we all are prisoners of our own device; prisoners of conscience, societal failure, psychological disposition, even mental and spiritual.
Says he: “I was once in prison a long time ago till I freed myself.
“I realize that the question is not whether we are caught in the mind-made prison. The real question is to what degree are we prisoners of our own minds? We are all living in an illusion and mistaking it for reality.
“Since I left the walls of my own prison I swore that I will never change who I am or the expression of my truth because I suspect someone else is not going to like what I am saying. I will not show something I am not because I think that showing that trait will make someone else happy. For me, I will forever remain my authentic self everything else is Fake”.
He further posits that human beings need to be freed from their prison through a higher understanding of spiritual values, stressing that ” it takes the deep to call the deep”.
In the next three or four weeks, Charly Boy hopes to repeat his visit to Ikoyi Prison. His plan is to further find ways to solidify the method by which some of the inmates whom he believes should not be there are provided with some measure of reprieve.
He is gravely concerned that their inability to pay paltry sums as fines is the reason they are languishing in such confinement for so long. Although, the officials were apprehensive of his visit of which they were notified, his conduct for the duration of his interaction with them and the inmates defused such feeling, paving the way for good rapport which further snowballed into profound admiration and excitement among all who witnessed the event on Wednesday, June 18, 2019.
According to Charly Boy, the entire arrangement is spiritual, just as he stressed that he is not into humanitarian activities to be relevant.
Says Charly Boy: “I am not seeking to be relevant; I am already relevant. I want to be useful to humanity because there is a world of difference between being relevant and being useful”.
He further posits that everybody has something useful to them and humanity imbued in them by God, adding that while some are able to discover theirs and put such gifts to positive use, others never ever detect theirs and they wallow in abject ignorance, leading to waste.
In due course, Charly Boy will be preoccupied with projects aimed at synergizing with public-spirited individuals, corporate organizations both local and international to seek ways of uplifting prison inmates as well as getting them refined and finding pathways to rediscovering themselves.