By Moshood Adebayo
At 73, Oba Olufemi Ogunleye, Towulade of Akinale, an Owu settlement in Ewekoro Local Government Area of Ogun State has demonstrated the axiom that where there is will, there is always a way.
The monarch, who recently completed a 5-year degree programme in Law at the Crescent University, Abeokuta, said that he also wanted to make a point that there is no age limit for someone, who is desirous of education.
The veteran journalist, who retired from the defunct Nigeria Airways as the Group Public Relations Manager, explained why he returned to school years after enthronement.
His words: “I did not plan to return to school. I had a cousin who is the Head of Departmemt of Mass Communication of Crescent University in whom I have always been delighted in his progress since we met; his name is Dr. Kola Adesina. I often visited the university to see him and shared my experience with his students until one day when the thought of enrolling for a progamme came into my mind and I ended up reading Law.
“I started with the university’s Diploma in Law which I had thought would be a run of-the-mill thing, but I was proved wrong by the rigour of the academic exercise. At the end of the programme I had Upper Credit with which I enrolled for the degree programme in Law. That was the beginning of my romance with the noble profession of the learned. I consider myself lucky to be among the pioneer 39 Law graduates of the university. It is a rare opportunity, which I pursued with doggedness, seriousness and commitment.”
Oba Ogunleye, who admitted that he was the oldest among the law students, said: “I long to be admitted into the Nigerian Law School, where I hope to learn more about law. Bagging a Second Class (Upper) degree in the programme was not an easy task for me. It required perseverance, resilience and determination.
I almost abandoned the programme because of its academic rigours and demands. But my love for education, cooperation and support of my wife, saw me through the challenges of the programme. I never thought the rigour of the programme would be that much. I thank God who saw me through.”
He commended the university for not sparing the rod in turning out graduates, who have been excelling in various professional careers.
“I will use my legal experience coupled with my public relations experience to better the lots of my people. By God’s grace, after completing my studies at the Nigerian Law School, I intend to open a chamber here in the community through which I will offer legal services in such a way that would bring smiles to the faces of rural dwellers and others.
“By graduating in Law at 73, I have thrown a challenge to the youths and other senior citizens that there is no age barrier to educational advancement in life.
Until one dies, the brain will continue to work; hence we should make use of it abundantly, particularly in the area of academics, knowledge acquisition and others. I may not be as sharp as I was when I was a boy, but I am still strong, full of energy with which to pursue my goals in life.”
The monarch said that taking full advantage of the opportunity provided by the university made for the one he lost when the euphoria of being the Public Relations Manager of the defunct Nigeria Airways prevented him from studying for a degree programme at the University of Lagos.
Although Oba Ogunleye said he had worked with a lawyer in his youthful days, he never dreamt of one day becoming a lawyer.
“This is God’s doing and I will forever be grateful to him. I had in my early life worked with a lawyer, who is an in-law, where I had thought I would be a clerk, but he turned me into a labourer carrying building blocks to build his house.”
Reminiscing on what he enjoyed most during the programme, the monarch said: “I enjoyed Criminal Law the most, particularly when most of the cited cases were those that I had been privileged to cover as a reporter. One of those cases was the one that involved Alhaji Gaji, a brilliant lawyer in Kaduna, who had a case of murder in 1972. I covered the case from the first day it started to the very day he was convicted. Also, I found Jurisprudence fascinating.”
The monarch said he was not surprised that he made Second Class Upper: “I read like a student aiming for a First Class result and I thank God for crowning my efforts with success. In fact, my wife was even making jest of me, wondering why I had put in everything into the programme as if my life depended on it. I usually told her that anything worth doing at all was worth doing well.
On how the Law degree would assist his community, he said: “Long before I completed my programme this year, the knowledge I was acquiring had already started impacting positively on my domain. There were cases, particularly civil ones, that I have used the knowledge of law settle without recourse to the court. The knowledge of law has also assisted me to decipher between civil and criminal cases. Criminal cases should be reported to the police. Here in my palace, I preside over civil cases and give those involved in the matter the option of settlement, but when it is criminal, for instance when someone shot another or murder case, I don’t usually hesitate to bring in the police, which is charged with the responsibility of looking into it.
“My approach to issues is now quite different from what obtained before my enrolment into the Law programme. I view issues critically line with the norms of the law profession.
When his training at the Nigerian Law School is completed, the monarch has indicated he would engage more in alternative dispute resolution (ADR), which would afford him the opportunity to intervene and use his legal knowledge and other skills to settle cases amicably through mediation and reconciliation, as he indicated he would not have time for litigation cases. By focusing on ADR, he would be doing officially what he had been doing privately.