Until 25 years ago,maverick musician, and eldest son of the eminent jurist and one-time Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa who died last Sunday at the National Hospital in Abuja, Charles Oputa popularly known as Charly Boy was not in the ‘good book’ of his father owing to his lifestyle.
But the story changed immediately after father and son realised the importance of respecting each other’s feeling. While he lived, Pa Oputa was his son’s best companion.Charly Boy talks about what he shares in common with his late father as well as how he wants him to be buried.
We want to sympathise with you over the demise of your father?
Don’t sympathise with me, rather you should join me in celebrating a life well lived. I am celebrating my father’s life and times. He lived a fulfilled life,so there is a great need to celebrate him.
What are you going to miss most about your father?
For the past 25 years, we bonded and have come to understand each other. We discussed anything under the sun. I am proud to have had a father like him. What I am going to miss most about him is the companionship that we enjoyed with each other. It came to a point where I didn’t remember I have a mother.
How would his demise affect your lifestyle as the eldest son ?
You should direct that question to my mother because she has lived with her late husband for almost 70 years. But I started enjoying my relationship with my father about 30 years ago. And that was after he decided to give me the kind of respect I deserved from him. Initially he thought I took a wrong step in life.
But after he saw my works, and what I represent, he had no choice than to sheathe his sword. I would say that there is no great difference between my father and myself in terms of our philosophies and approach to life.
Do you think the misunderstanding you had with your late father when you returned to the country after your long sojourn in America helped to shape your life?
It wasn’t a problem as such. I guess, it was out of concern they showed to me for a brighter future. They weren’t too sure that being an entertainer would guarantee my survival in life. Then, I already had a job waiting for me. But I thank God it didn’t work that way because I am now living my dreams. I didn’t go into entertainment to make money, but importantly, to earn my respect. Everything is not about money.
Do you have any plan to immortalise your father’s name?
Yes, people easily forget that you have once lived. So, I wouldn’t let anybody forget that my dad made an indelible impact on the nation’s legal profession.
Did your father tell you anything before he passed on?
He was just trying to tell me something about two hours before he passed on. I went to visit him in the hospital where he was on admission because for some days he wasn’t eating very well. I insisted to feed him that morning, and I pleaded that he should corporate with me. It was then he said, he wanted to apologise to me.’Apologise for what! I queried him?
He replied me saying, given the nature of his sickness, and its complication, he’s sorry for everything. But when I cautioned him, he said, since he was apologising, I wouldn’t accept it, that I would have to get an appeal. It was like a joke between father and son. Later, I told him, I was going to take my bath upstairs. And within 2 hours while I was away, he gave up the ghost. That was how it happened.
How would you describe the life he lived?
He was not too different from Charly Boy. He was a book warm; philosopher, poet and legal luminary. While he wore suits and ties, I dressed like a mad man. That’s the only difference between him and myself. But we think alike and have the same approach to life. That’s why we were able to bond.
Would you mind a state burial for your father as an eminent jurist and one-time Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria?
My father’s death should not be used for politics because I will resist any attempt to hijack the burial plans by politicians. My father was not a politician when he was alive. This is a warning to those who are already making plans to use his death to advance their political careers. When he was sick, nobody visited him in the hospital except his family.
Whatever arrangement, anybody is making, the family must be carried along. I will not hesitate to embarrass anybody who wants to take the family for granted. I am not against the federal government giving my father a state burial because he deserved it, but the family must be carried along in whatever plans they are making. Meanwhile, we are yet to announce the burial arrangements.
While you were with your father, what was his opinion about the state of the nation?
I could remember about three weeks ago, while I was in my sitting room watching television with him. I raised an issue, wondering whether they would ever get anything right in this country. And he responded that “an average Nigerian is incapable of deep thought.”