Gula!, a play on Obasanjo’s prison encounter with a gangster – Baba Ali – goes on stage in Lagos
The captivating true-life account of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s encounter with Baba Ali – one of the most dreaded criminals in Northern Nigeria during his incarcerationin Yola is set for staging as a play titled ‘Gula!’
At a press conference organized on Wednesday, 13 September 2017 to announce Gula! The Executive Producer of Gula, Tunde Oduwole, said the play, which is based on the book ‘The Story of Baba Ali’ written by former PresidentOlusegun Obasanjo, will be on stage for the first time ever to the Nigerian audience from September 30th, 2017 at Terra Kulture, VI, Lagos.
The press conferencewas attended by former President Olusegun Obasanjo; the Executive Producer of Gula! on Stage, Mr. Tunde Oduwole; veteran actor/comedian, Tunji Sotimirin, who plays the character Obasanjo in Gula!; Nollywood star Paul Adams, who plays Baba Ali’s father,the Theater Director, Kenneth Uphopho, the Producer, Ayo Ajayi, among other guests from the entertainment industry
Speaking at the event,the former President noted that Gula on Stage is replete with important lessons for families, government institutions, policy makers, institutions and governments.While in prison in Yola, Obasanjo said he selected a few inmates to interview in order to understand their journey to jail. He made efforts to influence and if possible, reverse their fast-trackedjourney to self-destruction.
Obasanjo recalled his encounter with one of the inmates, ‘Baba Ali’, a leader of a ruthless criminal gang in Northern Nigeria( Arewa Boys). Baba Ali was the son of a missionary and a headmaster of a school, but he became an armed robber who dined with the devil and had members of the police force and judiciary in his pocket. However, through persuasion, prayers, fasting. Baba Ali repented and after serving his terms, sought and found Obasanjo, now the President of Nigeria– who sent him to a Baptist seminary. Baba Ali is now an ordained Baptist Church minister in charge of a Baptist Church in Kaduna for the last 9 years.
“There are so many lessons to draw from Gula!, For me what lessons can we learn individually, collectively and as a country. It does not matter how bad a man may be, you can change or improve him. There is an opportunity of a second chance”, Obasanjo said. He therefore enjoyed everyone to see the play.
The Executive Producer, Mr. Oduwole described Gula as a story of courage, hope, taking responsibility and of second chances. He said “while in incarceration, Obasanjo’s life was hanging in the balance but rather than allow fear, depression, self-pity, or loneliness to engulf him, Obasanjo in a display of rare human strength, took responsibility to understand why the prison was full of young people.
Oduwole also thanked Obasanjo, the author of “The Story of Baba Ali” for taking the difficult challenge of documenting this unique experience for generations to come and for giving him the right to produce this play.