…as Governor, Obasanjo, Ooni others celebrate legal icon’s Afe 60 years at the bar
Ekiti State Governor, Mr Biodun Oyebanji on Monday described legal luminary and founder of Afe Babalola University Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Aare Afe Babalola (SAN) as a special gift to Ekiti State, Nigeria and humanity.
Governor Oyebanji who joined other eminent Nigerians, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, former Commonwealth Secretary, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, among others to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Babalola’s call to bar, thanked the ABUAD Founder for providing platforms for many Nigerians who were once hopeless to realise their dreams.
Oyebanji who reminisced on Afe Babalola’s prominent roles in the struggle and eventual creation of Ekiti State, said the actualization of the creation of the state was what provided an opportunity for him and all previous governors to become Governors in the State at different time.
Oyebanji who set aside his prepared speech, also regaled the audience with the story of how he utilized Babalola’s facilities at his Emmanuel Chamber, in Ibadan, Oyo State Capital for his master’s degree programme at the University of Ibadan in the early nineties.
The Governor added that he was always getting his papers typed and photocopied at the chamber through a friend who was a lawyer at the chamber at that time, adding that when he asked what would be Babalola’s reaction if he got to know an outsider was using his facilities, his friend replied him that he (Babalola) would be happy to hear that his resources was being used to assist someone in need of it.
He also narrated how he was happy carrying Aare Afe Babalola’s books during the presentation on Ekiti State creation at the panel set up by the then military government as well as the legal luminary’s demonstrated humility and brilliance during the presentation and the meetings that preceded the main presentation.
Speaking further, the Governor who described Afe Babalola as his father, said the ABUAD Founder remains a rare gem and a gift to Ekiti, Nigeria and mankind.
“Daddy I congratulate you, thank you so much for what you are for humanity, thank you so much for providing platform for those that are hopeless to have hope, thank you daddy because I can stand here today as Governor of Ekiti State because of people like you.
“When I picked up a lecturing job at University of Ado Ekiti and then started the struggle for the creation of State, I joined the committee as a member and I later became the secretary of the committee. I was the youngest and I was shocked at Daddy’s level of humility and commitment to that cause.
” One picture that always runs through my mind is the day we were going for a panel at Akure to defend our request for the creation of Ekiti state, a night before the presentation, daddy drove in from Ibadan, we were at Ewi’s palace and daddy insisted that we do a mock presentation and took comment from everybody.
“When we got to Akure the following day, daddy’s performance was unforgettable and that singular act of patriotism and commitment to your people have us Ekiti State.
“If we don’t have this State, I and all others that have been governors of this state will not have a platform to stand-in” the Governor asserted. So, on behalf of myself and all the Governors before me, I say thank you sir.
Earlier in his remark, former President of the federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo congratulated the celebrant on the occasion of his 60th anniversary at the Bar
He described the legal icon as a titan at the bar, astute litigator, bar leader both nationaly and internationally. added that he is a rare breed who combines comeliness with brilliance as he rose to become