This is a special tribute to a very special man. A very unusual man. A most under-celebrated icon of immense and immeasurable proportion. A man who towers well above several men and women who have unfortunately high-jacked national and international applause, much undeserved, to themselves.
I know many people may query my choice of the title for this tribute and may be wondering whether I was wishing Prince Bola Ajibola dead or insinuating that he had already collected his Boarding Pass to the other side of the Continuum. Far from it. It has always been my cardinal principle that people who are good should be told while alive and active that they are good, and those bad should be told so. Not elegies at the grave side which would be of no use to the dead.
One time Prime Minister of Canada Mr Jean Chretien was asked if he was bothered by what the press might write after his demise; the usually witty gentleman quipped “I won’t be there to read it!”
If one of the most recognizable faces on the planet, Michael Jackson had been shown the unprecedented love showered on him at his death, he would have died a happier man.
So, I declare that I wish Uncle Bola Ajibola more years of meritorious and active life in the service of Allah and humanity. He has not finished his mission. And he’s not about to by the special grace of Allah.
And those who may still be worried about my choice of title should find solace in the fact that I already drafted the pamphlet of the programme of proceedings for my funeral in addition to choosing the transparent plastic casket my remains would be cased in and the spot to be interred at my Ashi Bodija residence, whenever my body could no longer accommodate my Breath of Life.
Now back to our main subject. And I have Wikipedia as my reference:
Omoba Bolasodun Adesumbo “Bola” Ajibola KBE [The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire] (born March 22, 1934) was an Attorney General and the Minister of Justice of Nigeria from 1985 to 1991 and a Judge of the International Court of Justice from 1991 to 1994. He was president of the Nigerian Bar Association from 1984-85. He was also one of five commissioners on the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, organized through the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
Born on March 22, 1934 in Owu, near Abeokuta, Nigeria, to the Owu royal family of Oba Abdul-Salam Ajibola Gbadela II, who was the traditional ruler of Owu between 1949 and 1972, Ajibola attended Owu Baptist Day School and Baptist Boys’ High School both in Abeokuta between 1942 and 1955. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Law (LL.B) at the Holborn College of Law, University of London between 1959 and 1962 and was called to the English Bar at the Lincoln’s Inn in 1962. He returned to Nigeria to practice the Law, specializing in Commercial Law and International Arbitration.
He was the chairman of the panel set up by the Plateau State government to probe the 2008 Jos riots. He established Crescent University in 2005 in Nigeria which is an Islamic and co-educational institution.
I had wanted to write this tribute since 2005 when Judge Bola Ajibola was appointed the Chairman of the 50-member Ogun State Elders Consultative Forum in Abeokuta . I found in that appointment a confirmation of the esteem I have held Prince Ajibola when I met him in his very active and articulate days as the fire-brand President of the Nigerian Bar Association [NBA] [1984-1985].
Ogun State Elders Consultative Forum paraded heavyweights like emeritus Professor Theophilus O. Ogunlesi, Nigeria’s first professor of Medicine, Justice Sogbetun, Professor Akin Mabogunje, Sir Kessington Adebutu, Chief AA Degun, Professor Adebayo Adedeji, Apena Adebisi Macgregor, Dr Ona Soleye, Ambassador Koleoso, Professor Anthony Asiwaju, Chief Olu Okuboyejo, Professor Biyi Afonja, Ambassador Segun Olusola, Olori Yetunde Gbadebo, Asiwaju S A Onafowokan, Ayora Kuforiji-Olubi, Dr Lateef Adegbite and Dr Sunny Kuku [ the youngest of the group listed] who was chair of a sub-committee. I kept postponing and postponing.
Then came Sunday August 12 and the Punch of that day spurred me to action. In reporting the wonders performed by Islamic Mission for Africa Model College, Abeokuta, the Punch wrote: Former Attorney General and Minister of Justice Prince Ajibola SAN has given glory to Almighty Allah on his immense joy at the overwhelming performance of excellence by the students of one of his educational establishments at the just concluded WAEC Examinations. Ajibola thanked God for strengthening him to have made IMA International Model College happen and for the College’s feat which netted for it A1 parallel in Mathematics at the African standard examination. This is proof of Allah’s endorsement of the sacrifices of this global figure who served his fatherland as Minister for over six years without taking salary. The Crescent University Abeokuta [CUAB] the peak of the educational establishments of the Olori Omo Oba of Owu Kingdom is today one leading private university in Nigeria with its excellent stride as ‘citadel of moral and academic excellence’ emphasized the Sunday Punch.
When Crescent University celebrated her 10th Anniversary [2005-2015] the elated Founder and Proprietor, former World Court Judge enthused: “This is a fulfilment of our dream of nurturing people of academic and moral uprightness in the sight of God”, adding “we do not want you [the students] to become educated beasts”.
The University which is a perfect reflection and image of its founder may be the country’s answer to all the problems facing other Nigerian universities. The University has never recorded a single day of strike or closure in the last twelve years and has not recorded a single case of cultism. From a humble beginning with accreditation in Banking and Finance the University now boasts over 20 accredited programmes with Colleges of Law, Social and Management Sciences, Natural and Applied Sciences, Information and Communication Sciences and Environmental Sciences topping the chart.
All these Prince Ajibola has accomplished without beating drums about them. Because of his commitment to human capital development and enthronement of excellent morals in our youths Prince Ajibola sold virtually all he had to found the Crescent University .
I must add that Judge Ajibola is very rich in humour and jokes and if you do not want your ribs cracked up, you may be advised not to engage in dialectics with this bundle of wit, witticism, and syllogisms. Brought up in the royal palace; dignity, royalty, elegance, comportment and decorum always ooze out of his usually well ironed agbada.
With contacts and connections all over the globe, and with a wide network of leaders of thought throughout Nigeria Judge Ajibola is at home in Kano as he is in Calabar and very much in good company as he is in Australia and in Austria.
Prince Bola Ajibola is a unique role model and his life is a study in academic brilliance, courage, perseverance, persistence, patience, patriotism, enterprise, focus, humility, selflessness, modesty, human decency and moral rectitude. A book for all ages and all generations!
Bold, outspoken, courageous and kind hearted, Ajibola is one man whose door you knock with tears in your eyes and depart with smiles on your lips. His leadership and human relations skills are without compare and his patriotism and nationalism are beyond reproach. He takes his religion very seriously the same way he commits to humanity and services to both. A man of unimpeachable integrity Judge Ajibola is one leader who would/could have pulled Nigeria out of its morass if he had turned his attention and immense talents and brilliance to politics. Unfortunately, Nigeria has no need for such an upright man who would not steal, would not lie, would not kill or get people killed for him and would not tamper with his female Ministers’ under pants!