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In the estimation of Benjamin Franklin, an American statesman, scientist and philosopher, “a good example is the best sermon”. Like other personages of the world, the former judge of the world court at The Hague, Prince Bola Ajibola at 78 has made his impressive footprints on the sand of time having written his name boldly, in gold, on the wall of history and has been a good model for those who seek to be inspired by his exemplary life.

He was not born with any silver spoon in his mouth, although of royal ancestry. As an optimist, he targeted the sky in his career and reached the peak of it. His life is a shining example to all especially those of us who live in his time. But he is a better example for the coming generation who will seek to emulate his virtues and ideals. This can be justified with the fact that when people read about those who have made impacts in the past, they seem to appreciate them even more than their contemporaries as evident in history of past heroes. From Jesus Christ to Mustapha Muhammad, their generations did not seem to value them more than those after them.

In fact, it is not a coincidence that his international legal and arbitration mission spanned 23 years just like his father, Oba Abdul Salaam Gbadela II ruled Owu kingdom, Abeokuta for 23 years. Like father, like son! Looking at it critically, God has made 23 years a unique benchmark even for Mustapha Muhammad as he was given the revelation of the Qur'an in peace-meal for a period of 23 years. Methinks Judge Ajibola is lucky to have shared this prophetic number with the best of mankind. It is a deliberate fashion by the Creator of all, you will agree. This is why he takes pride in always mentioning, with emphasis, this number of years that he served humanity through divine guidance and providence.

Judge Ajibola is a good model of optimism. He is a positive thinker and this has helped him in all spheres of his life. To him, anything is not over until he wins. He is an achiever. A great one at that. And he encourages people to be winners in all they seek to achieve. A peace-maker, he abhors shedding of blood in any form. He is a good time-keeper, having used his entire time prudently and judiciously right from his childhood. To him, sleeping for eight hours per day is a waste of a third of one's life. Judge Ajibola is so time conscious that as a guest, he usually arrives at any event at least one hour or more before the commencement of the programme. Many a time, he would arrive at events even when the organisers are still putting some finishing touches to their arrangements. Whenever he is not able to make any of the functions, Judge Ajibola would delegate an able lieutenant to represent him, with verbal and written apologies to the host(s). Late-comers cannot find their ways to his door because they cannot cope.

Judge Ajibola is an epitome of magnanimity as he delights giving out than collecting. He believes that the hand that gives is better than the one that receives. But miraculously, whatever he gives out to people in need comes back to him in manifold. He receives God's blessings where he least expected. Out of his generosity, only God knows the number of family members and acquaintances' house rents and hospital bills he settles till date. It is interesting to always witness how he continuously doles out money to people in distress. He relishes it. Till date, at age 78, certain non-staff members of his Lagos chamber headed by his first son, Barr. Mahruf Adesegun Ajibola (SAN) are on the payroll. (They are not ghost workers!). A more surprising thing is that as staff salaries are reviewed upwards, so also are of these people—some aged, others out of jobs. But they need support. They need mercy. They need to eke out a living. As they knock on Ajibola's doors with tears, they always return with smiles on their faces. He will make them happy, telling them stories of hope and using his life as a typical example. They are all aware of the pay day and will never miss their package. Those who are fragile—owing to their old age— to visit the chamber have their allowances sent to them regularly and promptly too. And trust him, Judge Ajibola will always cross-check once in a while to confirm if the allowances get to their destinations. Baba is an altruist to the core!

He also donates secretly to refugee camps, motherless babies' homes and hospitals. He firmly believes in the prophetic tradition that “you should pay a labourer before his sweat is dry”. Therefore, he never owes his workers because he considers it suicidal. He promises less and delivers more to all that work with him. Some rabble-rousers may portray a different picture in this regard only for their own parochial interest to prevent others from gaining access to the Prince of Peace. But this is his true picture for those in doubt. He is a good manager of human and material resources. Like a good football coach, he knows who does what efficiently, assigning the right lieutenant for the right task although some may find it difficult at times because of their own laxity and complacency. He will always put the round peg in a round hole. Judge Ajibola hates squanderers and gets along with people who use money, time and resources moderately. God loves those who possess these qualities as substantiated in Qur'an Chapter 2 (Suratul Baqarah), Verse 177 in the following word:

It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards the East or the West ; but it is righteousness to believe in God, and the Angels, and the Books and the Messengers; to spend of your substance out of love for Him, for your kin, for Orphans, for Needy, for Wayfarer, for those who ask and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayers, and practise regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which ye have made and to be firm and patient, in pain and adversity and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing.

Judge Ajibola enjoys blessings of God as much as he deserves same. As he clocks 78 on the surface of earth, I beseech God to crown His blessings on him and bless his generations abundantly.

§ Katib writes from Crescent University, Abeokuta and can be reached via [email protected]

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