December 6, 1966 was a beautiful Tuesday; somewhere in Mubi, Adamawa state, Nigeria, Pa Samuel Ogunsure Falobi and Deaconess Janet Olufunmilayo Falobi, from Iwoye Ijesa, Oriade Local Government, Osun State, Nigeria, joyously welcomed a child into the world. I was the fifth child in a family of eight, the third son.
I come from a closely knit, monogamous, middle class family where Christian virtues is held in high premium. My father was a Teacher by profession but also had a passion for evangelism and missionary. He was a strong member of The Apostolic Church, and always established a branch of the church in every of his duty stations, if none existed. He was also a very strict disciplinarian, and humanitarian. My mother, who celebrated her 80th birthday last May, also retired as a Teacher, and now a Trader. She holds the distinction of being the first female Local Government Councilor in the then Ife/Ijesa (now Osun East) senatorial district, a position she occupied as far back as 1991. She is a Deaconess of The Apostolic Church and Choir mistress in the church, for over a decade.
I was named Babatope Oluwarotimi Ebenezer Fiyinfolu Ayinla; which give praises to God Almighty, as my mother was involved in a car accident when she was pregnant of me, and I was born while she was still recuperating in the hospital from a fractured leg. Out of these names, I love Oluwarotimi most, though I am not well known by this name. Ebenezer is a Biblical name, taken from 1 Samuel 7 vs 12: “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us”. During my teenage years, I adopted the nickname, ‘Ebino Topsy’, but this nickname has since been rebranded ‘Baba Ebino’ by my close friends.
I attended several primary and secondary schools because my father’s job as an Inspector of Education always caused him to be transferred across the Northern states, before he relocated to the South in 1974. My primary education commenced in at Bolari Primary School, Gombe, Gombe state, Northern Nigeria, which explains my fluency in the Hausa language; and later Saint Mathew Primary School, Ijebu Ijesa, Osun state, when my parents resettled home in 1974. During my secondary education, I attended Ijebu Ijesa Grammar School, Ijebu Ijesa, between 1977-1978; transferred to African Church Grammar School (ACGS), Ilesa where I sat for the West Africa Schools Certificate Examination in 1982. I was Library Prefect at ACGS, in 1981. After secondary education, I proceeded to Ilesa Grammar School, Ilesa for the Higher School Certificate (HSC)/Advanced (A) levels, in English Literature, Government, and Economics, between 1982-1984.
A notable skill that is found in my family is the skill to write and this trait enabled me to gain admission to the prestigious Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, Akoka in 1984, which I consider a privilege. I graduated with a BSc Mass Communication (Print Journalism) in 1987 and returned to UNILAG for a Masters in Environmental Management between 2010-2012. Presently, I am pursuing a Doctorate at the highly-rated University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom in Health, hoping to graduate by 2018.
My career has spanned over the past three decades in different sectors which include me being a journalist, politician, civil society activist, development worker, Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) consultant, Christian blogger, and online bible teacher and preacher.
I believe my greatest talent is writing and I have a love for journalism, though I did not pursue a career in journalism upon graduation in 1987. Previously, as an undergraduate, I served as Editor in Chief of the Faculty of Social Science Students (SOSSA) magazine, as well as a member of UNILAG’s Editorial committee. I also did all my vacation jobs in the defunct National Concord newspapers working as a Judicial reporter but occasionally venturing into other beats. Upon graduation, I was posted to Gulf Oil (now Chevron Oil) for my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) where I served as Public Relations Officer. Imbued with an entrepreneurial spirit, I published Campus People, Nigeria’s Inter-campus news magazine between 1988-1991 serving as its Publisher/Editor in Chief, but was it rested due to financial constraints.
Due to my preference to be self-employed, I have held only few full-time employments; some of which include:
- Senior Client Executive of Imprint Communications – 1993
- Assistant Consultant, Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF), Osun state managed by Shelter Communications 1998-1999
- Institutional Development Specialist of the USAID financed Sustainable Water and Sanitation in Africa (SUWASA) Programme in Ebonyi state. September 2013 – May 2015
- Senior Sanitation Reform Expert of the European Union financed Water Supply and Sanitation Reform programme Phase III (WSSSRP III) in Ekiti, Adamawa, and Plateau states between June 2015 and May 2016.
I founded Bread of Life Development Foundation (BLF) www.blfng.org in 2001, as a national water supply and sanitation advocacy non-governmental organization and I have since been the Executive Director.
Over the years, I have worked as a water supply, sanitation and hygiene journalist, activist, and advocate; as well as a Consultant on urban and sanitation reforms, utility management, policy development, and institutional development to several development partners, government agencies, and bodies such as Water Aid, European Union, UNICEF, World Bank, Federal Ministry of Environment/UNDP, Federal Ministry of Water Resources/World Bank, United Kingdom based GRM International, and other International bodies. All these have been through God’s grace and favour.
Additionally, I have presented professional and academic papers and posters on water supply, sanitation and hygiene issues at various International conferences including the World Water Forum, Mexico 2006, France 2012, and South Korea 2015; World Water Week in Stockholm 2001, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2015; International Dry Toilet Conference, Tampere Finland, 2012 and 2015; and the African Sanitation and Hygiene conference, Kigali, Rwanda 2012, and Dakar, Senegal 2015. I was a finalist, (one of the only three from Africa, and the only one from Nigeria) of the World Water Prize at the World Water Forum in Mexico, 2006.
Another privileged experience I had, was to be fully sponsored to participate in high level meetings in Senegal, Ghana, Liberia, Niger, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, India, Nepal, Sweden, Finland, Germany, France, U.S.A., and Mexico.
Professional leadership positions
In 2008, I was the Project Coordinator of a European Union funded consultancy that undertook comprehensive Organizational, Technical, Financial and Commercial Reviews of Osun State Water Corporation (OSWC) and Osun State Environmental Protection Agency (OSEPA) including private sector participation assessment as well as proposition of restructuring options. I was the Team Leader of ‘Project Reach’– Reaching the Urban Poor with Water and Sanitation Services programme, implemented in 22 small towns, Anambra State, Nigeria between 2009-2010, supported by European Union Water Supply and Sanitation Reform Programme Phase 1 (WSSSRP I).
I had the distinction of being the Sole Consultant that developed Water supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) policies for five states in Nigeria – Kaduna, Ogun, Lagos (working draft), Cross River and Osun states. I also participated in the review of WASH policies of four other states- Ebonyi, Enugu, Adamawa, and Ekiti under programmes financed by the USAID, EU and World Bank/Federal Government of Nigeria respectively 2008-2015.
I have been a member of the National Steering Committee, Country Water Partnership Nigeria, the highest multi stakeholder WASH platform Nigeria; founding Coordinator of the Civil Society Against Water Privatization in Nigeria (CISCAWP), now defunct; National Trustee of the Society for Water and Sanitation (since 2009), the umbrella network for all WASH non-governmental organizations in Nigeria; the National Chairman of the Water and Sanitation Media Network (since 2006), the umbrella network for all WASH journalists in Nigeria; and I previously served as the pioneer General Secretary of the West Africa Water and Sanitation Journalists Network – (between 2011-2013) – www.washjournalists.wordpress.com – a regional network of WASH Journalists in 14 countries.
I have been the Editor of eWASH- www.assemblyonline.info Nigeria’s only WASH blog- since 2001; and was the Producer of ‘Access to WASH’, www.youtube.com/washjournalists – a weekly radio programme on WASH issues in Lagos state, aired on Radio 1, 103.5 FM every Tuesdays at 4.30pm in 2013.
I have a heart for partisan politics, but have tactically stepped aside because of the murky nature of partisan politics in Nigeria. During my undergraduate days, I was elected Public Relations Officer of University of Lagos Students Union (ULSU) 1985/66, noted for its strident criticism and protested policies perceived by the ULSU to be against the interest of not only the students’ community but the Nigerian people. The Justice Mustapha Akanbi panel that investigated the 1986 nationwide Ahmadu Bello University student’s riots recommended my rustication for one year, but this was reversed due to a swift protest by UNILAG students. I was an aspirant for the defunct United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP) for the Osun State House of Assembly in Oriade Local Government, Nigeria in 1996.
Over the years, I worked as an aide to various public officers. Some of these appointments include: Special (Assistant) Information to Chairman, Oriade Local Government, Osun State, 1993; Press Secretary to Chairman, Somolu Local Government, Lagos State- in that same capacity, Chairman of the Local Government’s Special Duties Committee, 1996; Personal Assistant to Hon. Commissioner for Water Resources, Osun State, 2007; Personal Press Secretary to Federal Minister for Transport and Aviation, 1993; Chief Press Secretary to President of the Senate, 2000-2001.
Recently, I founded the Movement for Revolutionary Change (MRC) as a political pressure group but its activities are yet to gather steam. I regard Late Aminu Kano of the defunct Peoples Redemption Party as my political hero, because of his ‘talakawa’ (pro poor) tendencies, – though I was never close to him. I will describe myself as a believer in the Nigerian dream based on political liberalism and social welfarism, but flirted with Marxism during my undergraduate days.
Walking with God
By His grace, I was born into a Christian family, and grew up under the Pentecostal teachings of The Apostolic Church, Iwoye Ijesa. I have spent my adult years as a member of The World Overcomers Church, Abule Egba, Lagos, which I joined shortly after I became a born again Christian in 1996, and I received the baptism of the Holy Ghost shortly afterwards.
I manage an online Christian blog called Save the World, www.christonline.wordpress.com influenced by a divine ministration in 2001 to ‘set the captives free and give sight to the blind’. Save the World uses various new media platforms to spread the gospel, through which I have published over 4000 Christian articles, about 150 video sermons via www.youtube.com/babalobi since its launch in 2007.
I have also published two Christian books- ‘220 Names of God’ and ‘Power Over the Serpent’; the later chronicles the story of my healing, and deliverance from sin, sicknesses, and satanic afflictions. My unpublished books include: Qualities of Christian Leaders, Bible sermons, Daily devotionals, Breakthrough prayers, Commentary on Book of Mathew, Commentary on Book of Saint Mark, and Evangelist’s manual.
Being an introvert, I have few friends and I don’t belong to any social club outside the church. I have never finished a stick of cigarette or a cup of beer and as a principle, I avoid all alcoholic drinks. My hobbies are walking, watching football, watching news channels, praying, and using the computer/internet especially social media to teach and preach the gospel.
I married Bukola Babalobi nee Falore, on August 3, 1996 and God has blessed me with a successful marriage, happy family, and peaceful home. Our marriage is blessed with four God-fearing and excellent children. My father has been the greatest influence in my life, and have imbibed some of his traits including sacrificial honesty, humanitarianism, kindness, flair for evangelism, missionary spirit, passionate commitment to education, radicalism, independent mindedness, and humility. I rechristened/modified my biological surname; FALOBI to BABALOBI in 1997, (so that my surname would glorify God). The former surname means a child of ‘Ifa’, which is the idol god of wisdom in Yoruba ethnic group of Nigeria. While alive, my paternal grandfather was an ‘Ifa’ Priest and Head of ‘Ogboni’ cult in Ijesa land; and my paternal grandmother was a ‘Sango’ (god of thunder) Priestess, before her miraculous conversion to Christianity. Babalobi, my adulthood surname, means ‘a child of God’.
As I celebrate my 50th birthday today, I can boldly say that it has totally been God all the way and I am most grateful to Him especially for the grace of salvation, covenant prosperity, as well as divine protection, guidance, and promotion. I am a happy, satisfied and fulfilled man. I am also thankful to God in anticipation of the next phase of the victorious and glorious life, and divine destiny He has ahead of me, for it is written in Job 36 vs 11: If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures