•LAGOS APC Chieftain, Baba Eto
•Details Of His 75th Birthday Speech
Cardinal James Omolaja Odunmbaku is a force to reckon with in Lagos politics. He has been around since the days of NADECO and he was one of those who fought vehemently for the actualization of the June 12 1993 mandate. This astute politician came, saw and has conquered on many fronts. He is not just a Politician; he is also a man of God, who runs a church.
This energetic and highly spirited Grandpa is the founder and presiding priest of the Celestial Church of Christ, City of God, Akiode, Lagos, a church he has run for many years, while he combines that with politicking and several other businesses. It is safe to say that he is not just a party leader in APC but one who started from the scratch with the party and has helped build it to what it is today.
Nicknamed Baba Eto, he is one of the strongmen of the All Progressives Congress (APC), particularly in Lagos State. A close friend and ally of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, history has it that this clergyman was already in the thick of politics as far back as the 1993 presidential election. But the Odunmbaku political conquests are not only in the far past. Those in the know recognise him as one of the main power brokers in Lagos. He, it is reported, held the hands of former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and then the latter rose to gubernatorial heights. Odunmbaku reportedly anointed Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu during Ambode’s tenure, declaring him as the successor. Only those who knew Odunmbaku’s abilities believed him. Of course, Babajide Sanwo-Olu now occupies that seat today.
Most importantly, Cardinal Odunmbaku enjoys an extremely cordial relationship with the national leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. The robust relationship of Cardinal Odunmbaku with the governor emeritus of Lagos State has clearly helped in promoting and projecting Baba Eto to a place of prominence in Lagos politics.
Cardinal Odunmbaku is one name within and outside of Lagos State that opens doors. The fact of being a close ally of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has undoubtedly conferred a huge advantage on Baba Eto within the political space of Lagos State and Nigeria at large. He is a man that is helped by God. He has also helped himself to rise to prominence through hard work, dedication and perseverance.
As a matter of fact, the relationship between Cardinal Odunmbaku and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been confirmed to have pre-dated the emergence of the latter as Lagos State governor in 1999. In the run-up to the election, Odunmbaku was appointed the state chairman of Bola Ahmed Tinubu Campaign Organisation (BATCO) which has metamorphosed into what is today known as the “The Mandate Group.” Interestingly, Baba Eto still remains the Chairman of the group till today.
When CityPeople’s Brand Editor spoke with Cardinal James on his birthday about his relationship with Asiwaju Tinubu, he has this to say “I don’t have a relationship with Tinubu because that will be like downplaying him, Asiwaju is my boss, my father, my teacher, my mentor and commander”, he said.
While delivering his 75th birthday speech at his church on Sunday, September 5 2021, during his 75th birthday thanksgiving service, Cardinal James Odunmbaku revealed a lot about his relationship with the Jagaban Borgu and how his loyalty to the political wizard paved way for him.
“Asiwaju put me in a very vantage position that under no condition must I be replaced. Apart from the fact that I am a prophet, I also know that I mustn’t betray him and his trust in me. I have a son that always shows me mercy since then, He would say Papa, come here now, people are receiving cash gifts from Asiwaju, I am the one releasing the funds for them, come and make a request too and I will see to it that you get yours. That notwithstanding, I focused on my job as his campaign manager. I didn’t allow all the distractions make me lose focus because I know that I mustn’t betray a man that has so much believe in me.
“I stood by Asiwaju for eight years and after his tenure, he had grown so fond of me and had so much belief in me such that he made me the chairman of the campaign team again and I gained more popularity. I became the favorite song on many lips. I was hearing my name here and there especially among top Lagos politicians. With the spiritual power in me, we were able to deliver and of course, he gave me the support. He knew that I was not going to betray him and I didn’t allow myself to be deceived by small and huge cash gifts from here and there.
“He would call intermittently to check on me and ask if I am ok and my response would always be positive. Sometimes, I wouldn’t have a dime on me but I will never complain or make any request because the bible has already explained to me that the young lions will lack and go hungry but those who trust in the Lord will never lack anything good. Whenever he asks anything to be done, I just tell him to consider it done even when there is no fund to execute such project. Although some other people might go and tell him that I don’t have money to execute the project but I will not be the one. Because I realize that Asiwaju is such a special breed who would have made all the possible calculations before taking a step or giving out an order. His brilliance and intelligence is second to none. I am not sure that anyone has ever outsmarted him that I know of. So to deal with such a man, one needs to be as plain as possible and that worked for me.
“Some people will not act the way I did, they wouldn’t resign to fate and admit that if God doesn’t do anything, no man can do it. Asiwaju would always tell me that there are some things a lot of people cannot do but he knows that I would do them. He would always commit things into my hands because he believes so much in me and he would always indirectly tell me that I know you cannot betray me and should not do so.
“We moved from Asiwaju’s Era to another era and we did well by his grace. And we moved from that era to another era, we did our best but the man continued sacking almost everybody. We didn’t know what to do about it but today, God has taken all the glory. He’s the first commander that left the stage prematurely because I faced him and told him that you are no longer the governor of Lagos State and the word of God does not go back void. Once it is declared, it must fulfill its purpose.”
“That tiny minority that people were looking down on many years ago won Lagos the first time, second, time, third time and we are still keeping at it without getting tired and we will continue to win because we will not get tired. We were threatened but we didn’t bulge. Somebody even came to take over what we have been working for, for so many years just as the Philistines were threatening the Isrealites for 40 days and 40 nights when Goliath was asking them to produce somebody that can face him. He was saying Baba leave Ojodu for me but today, my son is the chairman of that local government. Can somebody shout Hallelujah?.