“My background does not imply that my back would forever be on the ground” Vincent O. Ibeh
Of all the twelve eminent Professors of Law shortlisted for the prestigious and highly revered Senior Advocate of Nigeria award by the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee, only one man made it to the end: Professor Babatunde Adetunji Oni. “The rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria is awarded to members of the legal profession who have distinguished themselves as advocates and academics, the LPCP noted in its statement.
Unlike previous years when more legal scholars were conferred with that award, this year only see one man, from one rural and historic town of Igboho, the headquarters of Oorelope local government of Oyo state outwitting others. And he did so in grand style. Just thirteen years ago, Prof. Oni bagged his Ph.D. and today, he is ‘sittin on top’ of both the legal and academic world. What could be more inspiring and heartwarming?
Interestingly, I haven’t met Prof. Oni in person but I have several friends who have interacted with him on many occasions. They all attested to his sheered brilliance, intellectual erudition, and sound mind. In addition, they also described him as a man of outstanding qualities: suave, urbane, affable and humane. Apart from being the first son of one of my former headmasters Pa E.O Oni at the First Baptist Nursery and Primary School, Obaago, I know little to nothing about this academic and legal luminary. I hope this tribute will bring me closer to him in due course.
Perhaps, I can imagine myself, sitting next to him, asking about his journey from that humble background to the top of the world: Was it all smooth? How was the ride? Who were your biggest cheerleaders and supporters? How did you manage to stand strong and tall in the face of obstacles? What message do you have for the restless and confused youths? In your capacity, tell me what you are doing to bring more diamonds from the rough in that community. How did you ensure your background did not imply that your back would forever be on the ground?
Of course, I know for sure that the timeless principles of success are the same anywhere and everywhere: grit, gut, growth mindset, commitment, consistency, courage, determination, dedication, diligence, delay of gratification, patience, perseverance, positivity, endurance, resilience, optimism, etc. To sit at the uppermost rung of legal and academic ladders, one must have excelled where others have faltered.
And Prof. Oni has only demonstrated this with incredible panache. The community where the likes of Prof. Oni grew up is known for many things by many people: the food basket of the state, the only surviving Old Oyo Empire, a fascinating community that welcomes visitors with open arms, and the hometown of eminent scholars, political giants, business moguls, and great achievers. Again, the town is also renowned and reputed to have produced two Deputy Governors in quick succession and under different political parties, a record that will stand the test of time in the political trajectory of the state and the region in particular.
I am inspired by Prof. Oni’s remarkable exploits. He is a beacon of hope, an inspiration to many, an exceptional and exemplary legal doyen. To say that what he has achieved is surreal would be an understatement. In a world of materialistic acquisition and accumulation of shiny baubles, Prof. Oni’s meteoric rise only offers a one-of-a-kind reminder to the youth: chase service and sacrifices for greater success. Here is a toast to greater accomplishments.
OYO101 is Muftau Gbadegesin’s opinion about issues affecting Oyo state and is published every Saturday. He can be reached via @muftaugbade on X, email@example.com and 09065176850.