I am honoured to pay this tribute to a man with whom I am proud to identify as his first child (apologies to my brother Segun Ajibola SAN!), a friend and a priceless mentor, H.E. Judge Bola Ajibola SAN, KBE, Nigeria’s pioneer and one of its foremost arbitrators, one time President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Hon. Attorney General and Minister of Justice for five years, Judge of the World Court, and Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s.
I have mentioned Judge Bola Ajibola’s major and high public service appointments, from legal practice to diplomacy, to demonstrate the breadth and variety of his talents and competence.
I served as his Special Adviser for five years, when he was Federal Attorney General, and I was on hand once in a while with him at the World Court.
Every day was a lesson in hard work, integrity and contentment.
He was in the office before 8.00 am and he never left till 8.00 pm.
Even then, he carried with him loads of books and files to study overnight.
I saw first-hand how he resisted every attempt to compromise him and how he fought corruption.
He always said contentment was the key to staying honest. He lived those high ideals to the letter.
As Judge of the World Court, he very quickly won the respect and admiration of his colleagues for his wisdom, wit and erudition.
Judge Ajibola in later years would continue in his role as my mentor.
In my years as Attorney- General of Lagos State, he was on hand to exhort, advice, and encourage and also rebuke!
I vividly remember the day in year 2000 when he arrived at my office at 8.00 am.
His first comment was that he was not surprised that I was at my desk so early.
He had come to advice on how he thought I should handle some sensitive issues that had arisen early in our administration in Lagos State.
My entry into politics was a surprise to him, but he not only gave his full support, but became one of my biggest sources of encouragement.
I had agreed to see him sometime during the 2019 campaigns, but rather than wait for me to see him, he caught up with me at an event I was attending at the MUSON Centre in Lagos. We held the meeting in his car.
Again it was mostly to offer his advice and thoughts on crucial national issues.
Sir, I am extremely proud of your exemplary life and contributions to our profession, nation and our world.
On this occasion of your birthday, it is my prayer that as your days, so shall your strength, wisdom and favour with God, in Jesus name!