ANOTHER GARLAND FOR BOLA AJIBOLA
The worth of any man (and of course any woman) is the impact such has made on humanity. The portrait of the man, Bola Ajibola, as an international jurist and world arbiter of peace, is multifaceted considering his lifetime achievements not only as juggernaut of a legal luminary but as a humanist, philanthropist and committed Muslim.
According to Sir Francis Bacon, a 16th century philosopher, 'reading maketh a man; writing maketh a complete man'. Perhaps, Ajibola's landmark achievements are due to his penchant for reading and prolific writings. Perhaps, his rare feat in arbitration and allied matters is as a result of his royal birth from Owu Kingdom. Perhaps, his outstanding track records in the field of law emanate from his knack to unearth greatness where others have limitations to do so.
Or was it the alma mater, the prestigious Baptist Boys High School that bred the budding Ajibola having discovered a halo of genius on his forehead early in life? This cluster of questions is worth enquiring when flipping the pages of this enigma's profile.
In retrospect, after listening to an intimidating citation of H.E. Judge Bola Ajibola on his conferment with a Doctor of Laws (LL.D) by Buckingham University, England, the Chancellor of the university Lady Margaret Thatcher rhetorically soliloquised aloud before a mammoth audience how a human being -Ajibola- was able to achieve his feats in one lifetime. This testimonial, given on the 24 February, 1996 is one of many attestations from high and mighty across the globe.
It is also gratifying to note that to have singled the man out by the acclaimed institution of first choice in Nigeria, University of Lagos, for another Doctor of Law (Honoris Causa) award at its convocation of January 20, 2011, the governing council of the university has deservedly added another feather to the cap of this legal giant.
The letter of notification for Ajibola's honorary degree of Doctor of Law, LL.D (Honoris Causa) by the University of Lagos, states inter alia that 'the approval of your nomination was unanimous at the various stages at the Honours Committee where the nomination was received, the senate which carefully subjected it to scrutiny and eventual consideration by the Governing Council made up of Representatives of Federal Government, Senate, Congregation, Convocation and Federal Ministry of Education in the Council of the university.
'Your intimidating Curriculum Vitae which is a compendium of your rewarding experience, sojourn in legal profession, public office, international recognitions and appointments informed the unanimous decision of the university to confer you with the honorary degree…and that you are the only one nominated for award at the next convocation ceremonies of the university'.
Only few men of honour, doggedness and rare achievements are considered for awards of this nature.
Born in 1934 to the Owu Royal Family, His Excellency Judge Bola Abdul Jabbar Ajibola attended Owu Baptist Day School, Ago Owu and Baptist Boys High School, Abeokuta, Ogun State for his primary and secondary school education between 1942 and 1955. In 1958, he was enrolled at Holborn College of Law, University of London from where he graduated in 1962 with a degree in law before he was called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn on 27 November 1962.
He was President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), 1984-1985 and Attorney-General/Minister of Justice (1985-1991). From there, he moved to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Netherlands. After a three-year stint at the World Court in 1994, he further served as Judge Ad Hoc of the World Court from 1994 to 2002. He was appointed Judge of the Constitutional Court of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He also served as the Nigeria High Commissioner to the United Kingdom between 1999 and 2002.
He is Chairman of Nigerian delegation to the Nigerian-Cameroon Mixed Commission on the Bakassi Peninsula. Prince Ajibola served as Vice President and later President of the World Bank Administrative Tribunal from 1994 to 2005; President, World Association of the World Jurists and Arbitrator, Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Dispute Commission.
A voracious reader, prolific writer, renowned administrator, jurist and arbitrator of global acclaim, Prince Ajibola has attended numerous international conferences and has held international positions and arbitration assignments too numerous to mention in this piece. In his professional career, he has provided outstanding legal consultancy services to several companies including Avon Cosmetics Limited; Masms Solicitors and Co. of London; Exxon, Houston, Texas, USA and Arthur Anderson and Co., London and Lagos.
In recognition of his outstanding imprints on the sands of time, Usmanu Dan Fodiyo University, Sokoto, awarded him Doctor of Literature (D. Litt) in 2003 while the Federal University of Agriculture conferred on him an Honorary Doctor of Agriculture (D. Agric) in 2004. As the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice between 1985 and 1991, he never took a salary, asking that same should be distributed to the Federal Government (35%), Nigerian Bar Association (25%) and Charitable/humanitarian organisations (40%).
He also founded African Concern, a non-governmental organisation in Lusaka, Zambia in May, 1995 to promote peace, justice and harmony among peoples of Africa in order to eradicate the problems of refugees arising from political conflicts and natural disasters. This, he accomplished in association with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to give succour to refugees in Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Rwanda.
Prince Ajibola, an altruist, founded Islamic Mission for Africa in 1996, which gave birth to Crescent University, Abeokuta, a visionary initiative capable of building a new generation of graduates imbued with industry, moral uprightness and diligence as well as the inculcation of spiritual redevelopment in young men and women.
Furthermore, the reputed legal icon and Islam's ambassador has to his credit other awards and honours among which are: Knight of the Order of British Empire (KBE), 1989; Fellow, Chartered Institute of Arbitration (FCIArb); World Jurist Award 1987; Senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), 1986; Fellow, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFR) among others.
Indeed, one cannot but agree with the Shakespearian dictum that some are born great while others achieve greatness, as both fit the profile of Judge Bola Ajibola like a glove fits the hand. This piece constitutes only a keyhole peep into our icon's compendium.
Kindly join us in a rousing ovation for this exemplary legal cum administrative icon, Bolasodun Abdul Jabbar Ajibola for his singular honour by the acclaimed university of first choice in Africa.
Idris Katib is Public Relations Officer, Crescent University, Abeokuta.