Chairman, Board of Commissioners of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Adeolu Akande, is one of the new wigs recently called to the Nigerian Bar as solicitors and advocates of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
Akande, a Professor of Comparative Politics and Political Communication at the Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, where he serves as Director, Centre for Presidential Studies, fulfilled his dream of also becoming a lawyer, 23 years after bagging his doctorate degree.
He said some of his classmates called him daddy but he was not dismayed. Before then he had made three attempts to study Law but failed.
“I wasn’t the oldest in the class. I think there were at least three persons in the Abuja Campus of the Law School, who were above 70 years of age. I, however, belonged to a generation of students called ‘the elders,’ most of us in our 50s and 60s,” he said.
“I was inspired by many of the older gentlemen, especially those who had been senators, members of the House of Representatives, permanent secretaries, ambassadors, and successful professionals – accountants, doctors, engineers, actors, journalists, etc.
“It was an irony that each time some of my younger classmates told me I inspired them coming to the Law School at my age, I, in turn, took my inspiration from those above 70 and successful men who were in the same class.
“My interest in Law was spurred by my interest in politics and the fact that many of the personalities that inspired my interest in politics like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola, Chief Bode Thomas were lawyers. My interest in Law deepened when I had opportunities to work in government (federal and state). From there, I concluded that knowledge of Law is a sine qua non for outstanding performance in government.
“As Chief of Staff to (the late) Governor Abiola Ajimobi (of Oyo State), there were occasions when we had heated debates on issues. The governor would agree with my position but would end up accepting the counsel of the lawyers in the cabinet.
“His reasoning was always that if he followed my advice and there was a backlash, he would be left vulnerable. However, he could still take refuge in the fact that he followed the counsel of his lawyers, especially on matters bordering on legal issues.
“When the governor dissolved the cabinet in 2013, I resolved to go back to school and Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, offered me a serene, stimulating and comfortable environment to pursue my dream.
“It was both challenging and fun attending classes with younger classmates. Many of them called me Daddy. I often found that amusing. Many of them were also quite helpful.
“I believe this new generation is smarter. They grasp issues much faster, and they are quicker to adapt. They have access to more information and can sustain discussions across many disciplines, having no boundaries between what the older generations classify as ‘serious’ and ‘unserious’.
“For instance, they don’t regard versatility in music as a sign of unseriousness. I encountered many of the best students in the class who were nimble dancers and almost fanatical football fans, especially the English Premier League.
“Midway into the session, I was astonished when they discussed issues of Law, and I began wondering whether we were in the same class. This inspired me, or more accurately, pressured me to work harder. Many of them taught me the mathematics aspect of Law, particularly in Corporate Law and Property Law.
“Believe me, it is helpful when people who are younger than you teach you a subject. You feel challenged to work harder, especially when the one teaching you does not have the patience to repeat himself.
“One of them once told me, ‘Daddy, this thing is not as difficult as you make it look!’ I was slightly jolted, but I calmed down and jokingly told him to take it easy with daddy.
‘I succeeded after four attempts’
“I feel fulfilled because I finally succeeded in finishing the law programme after four attempts. My first attempt to read Law was at the University of Ibadan. I spent a year in the Faculty of Law but had to withdraw because some of my colleagues wrote a petition that I could not do a full time study while I was on a full time employment with the Nigerian Tribune.
“The second was in 2010 when I got admission to Buckingham University, UK, but aborted it few days to my resumption due to family commitments.
“The third was in 2014 when I enrolled in the University of London External Degree Programme. I abandoned it when it looked like the agitation for correspondence students to attend Law School was not persuasive enough for the Council on Legal Education. I felt there was no point reading Law if you would not appear as counsel in court.
“The fourth attempt was when I enrolled at the Igbinedion University in 2015 to study Law.
‘Law School is tough’
“You work round the clock. You must achieve 75 per cent class attendance. You must attend group meetings and complete the daily assignments. You must be well prepared for every class as you may be called to answer questions in class and you will not want to disgrace yourself before more than a thousand classmates amongst who call you daddy.
Failing the Bar examination was no option. In truth, it crossed my mind a number of occasions that it was quite possible to flunk the final bar examination. I always shrugged it off and wished it away, but felt pressured to work harder. The only reward for hard work is more work, and I am glad it has ended in praise. To God be the glory.”
Akande disclosed that he attended Anwar-ul-Islam High School, Iseyin and Oyo State College of Arts and Science, Ile-Ife, Osun State. He read Political Science at the University of Ibadan where he obtained his Bachelor of Science (BSc), Master of Science (MSc) and doctorate degree (PhD). He also worked as a lecturer in the Nigeria’s premier university.
He was Regional Editor, South West, The Punch, Deputy Editor/Acting Editor, Sunday Tribune, and Editor-in-Chief, Omega Weekly.
He served as Deputy Chief Press Secretary, and later as Special Assistant, Research and Communications Strategy in the Presidency. He was also Chief of Staff to Ajimobi.