By Sunday Ani
As teachers in Nigeria and their colleagues in the world marked World Teachers’ Day, legal luminaries in various sectors of the economy who passed through the tutelage of the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, as a law lecturer at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) took time to celebrate the erudite law professor for positively impacting their lives.
The former students, some of whom have reached the pinnacle of the legal profession, described the personality of the VP. The former students included Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), Supreme Court judges, law lecturers, private legal practitioners and those in the corporate world, among others. They were mainly students who learnt the ropes under Osinbajo as a law lecturer in UNILAG dating back to the 1980s.
The VP has been in the business of churning out lawyers from the university as a lecturer for a period spanning over 40 years. In fact, he could be described as a professor of professors, having produced many law professors who have also produced other professors in law.
Osinbajo joined teachers across the globe to celebrate World Teachers’ Day by welcoming the Maltina Teacher of the Year 2020, Ms Oluwabunmi Anani, to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday, October 5, 2021.
It was on that auspicious occasion that the voices of his former students, singing glorious praises of his exploits and informing him of his positive impacts on their lives, were echoed.
Onike Ikepo Braithwaite, Osinbajo’s former student, who belongs to the class of 1987 law graduates of UNILAG, said the VP taught her Law of Evidence.
“What struck me about him as a lecturer was his brilliance. He was the only lecturer that we had who would deliver his lectures from start to finish off heart; with no lecture notes. That impressed me and encouraged me to be a better student,” she said.
John Inyang Okoro is today a Supreme Court judge. He was the class of 1981 law graduates of UNILAG. He described Osinbajo as a very simple fellow, an articulate prof, very versed in law: “Most of us who passed through him have become men and women of distinction in our chosen career of law.”
Adekunle Awodiji, legal practitioner, is of the class of 1989. Going down memory, he recounted how Osinbajo would, off-handedly, state the principles of law and mention case laws with full citation of the law report.
“Of course, this compelled some of us to give him the nickname, ‘one who lectures without a notebook,’” he said.
For Ade Ipaye, a class of 1985 law graduate of UNILAG, the VP was one of the youngest and, certainly, the most inspiring law lecturer: “He only came with a bottle of coke, if anything at all, yet, it was a class where students were most attentive and disciplined. His habit of meticulous preparation, of knowing and understanding intimately what he wanted to talk about and of speaking with uncommon clarity and logic were all second nature of the great Prof,” he posited.
Another legal practitioner and a class of 1990 student, Bassey Ekwere, described Osinbajo as a very intelligent teacher whose mastery of teaching was unparalleled.
He said, “It only takes somebody who has the knowledge to break it down the way Prof did to the understanding of all students.”
Also, for Pat Akem-Vingir, a class of 1986 member, he is still regularly inspired by Osinbajo.
His words: “His intense intelligence, passion for Nigeria, the attention he pays to even small details, his ability to recall events of the past with such level of deftness and accuracy, his humility, his capacity to listen to all shades opinions, his integrity and love for this nation inspire me daily.”
Ogun State’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Gbolahan Adeniran, is also a former student of the VP. He said Osinbajo is regarded by many as one of the best if not the best attorney-general that served in this country: “And he has taught me many things, particularly in that capacity. First, he taught me that, as attorney-general, we are to ensure that justice is placed at the heart of governance because it is only by doing so that the government is continuously reminded of the reason for its existence.”
Andrew Attah, a class of 1987 law graduate of UNILAG, described Osinbajo as one of the greatest lecturers he has ever met in his life.
“An erudite scholar; a quintessential gentleman; he truly impacted our lives. Today, we are in practice and the Law of Evidence he taught us has been one of the areas that has strengthened my law practice,” he confessed.
For Toyin Odusanya, she could not hide her happiness as she revealed that the vice-president equally taught her daughter. She described him as a fantastic human being with a fantastic personality
Remi Ladega, a class of 1986 member, said the VP was an embodiment of excellence in all that he does.
Iduma Igariway revealed that, as a student, he hoped that Osinbajo would become the UNILAG VC.
“It was my hope that this great teacher who will enter the classroom without a paper, yet, leave you completely satisfied will become the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos. It was my wish, my hope and expectation then, but today, he has become the Vice President of Nigeria,” he stated.
Bimbo Akeredolu, SAN belongs to the class of 1989. She attributes her success as a litigator to Osinjo’s erudite delivery of the subject of Evidence Law. “I have found the practice of my profession as a litigator almost seamless, especially in the area of Evidence because of his erudite delivery of the subject as a lecturer. It is a tool in the playbook for a good litigator that is next to indispensable,” he submitted.
Prof. Adesoji Adesugba noted that they were too numerous that benefited from Osinbajo’s tutelage spanning over 40 years. ‘You taught me Law of Evidence in my second year in 1985. Your knowledge and versatility in the discipline were next to none and your lectures were easy to comprehend due to the simplicity of your delivery. Definitely, no student of yours ever can forget those lectures we all hardly missed. I still recall you standing in front of the class and citing those cases with ease,” he said.
Chinedu Ugbo, a class of 1989, and Doyin Olatunji, among other former students all extolled the virtues and intelligence of the vice president as their law lecturer.
In his response after watching the video, the elated Osinbajo thanked his former students for the gesture and stressed that teaching was something he effortlessly did because of his passion for it. “I certainly did not expect to be celebrated in this way. But, I am deeply grateful to all of you for the kind words; your very generous remarks about me and about my humble effort to pass information to you,” he said.