Judge Bola Ajibola: Celebrating a pragmatic personality at 84, by Bashir Adefaka

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Judge Bola Ajibola.

The Golden Nights of sleeplessness when working for the whole of the day and reading with candle lights for the nights were norm.  One would imagine the extent of self-afflicted stress that the Prince of Oba Abdul-Salam Ajibola Gbadela II, who was the traditional ruler of as Olowu of Owu Kingdom, Abeokuta between 1949 and 1972 in the then Southern Protectorate of not too long amalgamated Nigeria, must have passed through.  Do I need to mention when he had actually wanted to pass on and he let on his gas cylinder to let loose its content while sleeping in a locked up room?  That was precisely one of the four experiences he had with death.  But while would AbdulJabbar Bolasodun Adesumbo Ajibola (SAN) want to be taken away by content of a gas cylinder?  That is story for another day.  But the whole myths surrounding all of those experiences from the era of Golden Nights to those other ones boiled out to the fact that achieving greatness in life is not an easy task to go by.

The name Bola Ajibola can no longer need an introduction. So, I do not have to start my tribute with an introduction of who the former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was, is and will still be in the conglomerate called Nigeria, Africa and the world in general.

What will need a continuous mention about the man who, despite the negative campaigns of calumny by own people at home and in the professional community of lawyers where he belonged, emerged in a globally participated election at the United Nations (UN) as Judge of the International Court of Justice (IJC) at The Hague is the story of his Golden Nights and how he had survived death four times just because he had to brush aside the princely status of a royalty in him to, independently, struggle to have a comfortable handshake with successful future that is now being talked about

Bola Ajibola and his former Special Assistant now Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, when the Osinbajo, as Vice President, visited his former boss in at his Hilltop home in Abeokuta.

today.

The Golden Nights of sleeplessness when working for the whole of the day and reading with candle lights for the nights were norm.  One would imagine the extent of self-afflicted stress that the Prince of Oba Abdul-Salam Ajibola Gbadela II, who was the traditional ruler of as Olowu of Owu Kingdom, Abeokuta between 1949 and 1972 in the then Southern Protectorate of not too long amalgamated Nigeria, must have passed through.  Do I need to mention when he had actually wanted to pass on and he let on his gas cylinder to let loose its content while sleeping in a locked up room?  That was precisely one of the four experiences he had with death.  But while would AbdulJabbar Bolasodun Adesumbo Ajibola (SAN) want to be taken away by content of a gas cylinder?  That is story for another day.  But the whole myths surrounding all of those experiences from the era of Golden Nights to those other ones boiled out to the fact that achieving greatness in life is not an easy task to go by.

No wonder I was once told by heir of the Bola Ajibola dynasty, Uncle Muhammad Mahruf Adesegun Bola Ajibola (SAN) that “Baba had made sure that all the sufferings of his children he had, had.  However, he never allowed our upbringing to be devoid of one which makes us forget where we are coming from and where we are going.  He is a religious, God-fearing man and he has brought us up along that line.”

Popularly called Prince Bola Ajibola (SAN), the Olori Omo Oba Owu rose above those early struggles in life to become the first Nigerian to be elected as Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), from there his activities at the NBA attracted the attention of then Military President, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (GCFR), who made him Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which he was between September 12, 1985 and December 4, 1991.

If I was not lucky to be alive to see him in his days of the Golden Nights and others because I was not born at that time – only arrived on September 3, 1972 – I was alive, alert to recognising happenings around me when he became attorney-general of the federation and I saw Prince Bola Ajibola as pragmatic person, who went into the government of his country at no cost to the government but at huge sacrifice of his personal comforts.  That was because, for the six years, six months, six weeks, three days and one and a half hours that he was in office as Minister of Justice, he earned no kobo from the treasury of government.  Rather, he spent his own hard earned money to take care of his personal needs required of him to serve his father land.  That was exactly what he did that made General Babangida saw and still sees him as truly an enigma.

Not only that he did not take salaries, even all of the gifts that were given to him in the course of his official duties, Prince Bola Ajibola would gather at the end of each of the six years and order them sold and hand the proceeds to the government’s coffers. He said he did not need to spend government money to serve his own country being that he himself had struggled early in life to be a successful man and that he was good with that.

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo now Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, whom the legal luminary appointed as his Special Assistant working with him as Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, should have a better story to tell beyond the little provided by this young lad of the Fourth Estate of the Realm about how Prince Bola Ajibola went about the only Law Reforms so far to be embarked upon by any Nigerian government in succession.

Another is that, Prince Bola Ajibola much later after retiring from the World Court as Judge was again sent back to the global scene, this time as Nigerian Commissioner to the United Kingdom.  It was during his time in UK that he visited the kingdom’s biggest Islamic Centre at Leicester and, being a religious person himself, he decided to make a replica of the Centre in Nigeria hence, upon resigning his position as High Commissioner and returning to Nigeria, he established the Islamic Movement for Africa (IMA), which he planned to use as umbrella body for all the projects, programmes and activities that he would involve himself with in retirement, which would enable him to continue to give back to the society that made him and also to humanity under the guidance and guardian of the Almighty Allah.

Today, that IMA that he established, assisted by many other committed, sincere Muslim personalities, home and abroad, is a success story that very many people in Africa, Asia/Muslim World, Europe and the Americas are now happy to identify with. That is made possible, more importantly, by the resounding successes that, particularly the Crescent University Abeokuta (CUAB) that is the peak of all that he intended to achieve with IMA, has made and continues to record nationally, continentally and globally. Crescent University was the project with which Prince Ajibola chose to help produce young leaders that would take-over the leadership of Nigeria in future without single intent or tendency to steal or corruptly enrich themselves but whose major concerns in governments will be to serve and nothing but to serve.

It is as a result of these great impacts that Baba has made to public and general life of Nigeria and Nigerians that I consider it a great opportunity that I can have, should I be allowed a space in this brochure to be part of people, in my own little way, who will celebrate at 84 the enigma that he is, I mean, Prince Abdul-Jabbar Bolasodun Adesumbo Ajibola SAN, CFR, KBE, LL.B, B.L, FCI, NAILS, LL.D.

*Bashir Adefaka, a Prince of Isolo Akure, Ondo State, is a Lagos-based media practitioner, Member Sultan of Sokoto Media Team and Personal Journalist to Prince Bola Ajibola (SAN). He wrote this Tribute to Bola Ajibola at 84 for Brochure of Founder’s Day of Crescent University, Abeokuta (CUAB), Nigeria holding March 22, 2018.

Bola Ajibola, children at a special event in Lagos. Standing on the left is Mr. Segun Bola Ajibola, heir of the Bola Ajibola dynasty and Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

Bola Ajibola (SAN)

When the age was prime, Bola Ajibola in his energetic period of speech making.

Climbing into octogenerianism, Bola Ajibola at an academic function.

Bola Ajibola: Recently addressing a gathering of great Nigerians at Daily Trust Dialogue in Abuja.

His Majesty (Late) Oba Abdul Salam Ajibola Gbadela II, Olowu of Owu Abeokuta, Ogun State and father of Judge Bola Ajibola in a book, “A Life of Excellence” co-authored by Bola Ajibola and Oladipo Yemitan to the memory of the late police officer turned monarch.

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