Stories by Oladapo Udom
Lagos, Feb.13, 2022
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has praised the array of distinguished alumni of the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos (UNILAG) and their contributions to the development of the various sectors of the country.
Osinbajo gave the commendation at the UNILAG Law Alumni Dinner, themed: ‘The Great Homecoming’ which held on Saturday at Harbour Point, Victoria Island, Lagos on Feb.12, 2022.
This is as the Vice-Chancellor of the foremost institution, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, at the same event, said that the university has been able to attract research grant of N17 billion during his tenure.
Osinbajo said: “The reputation and goodwill of the alumni is the rationale for the prestige of the school.
“We must all be proud of the remarkable array of alumni and their great achievements not just in Law but practically in all fields of human endeavour.
“It is to time to boast about the weight of the UNILAG, the Faculty of Law and its contributions to the development of the society and country at large,” he said.
The vice president said that the quality of alumni from the prestigious university had led precedence in defining legal practice in the country.
“At the apex of the Nigerian judiciary is our Honourable Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, last year she was joined by Justice Helen Ogunwunmiju, both alumni of the UNILAG Faculty of Law.
“At the Court of Appeal, we have so many such as Justice Patricia Mahmoud who served as Ag. Chief Judge of Kano State.
“Also the immediate past Chief Judge of Edo, Justice Esther Edigin, who was my classmate and the current Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba is also a proud alumnus,” he said.
Osinbajo also listed Justice Oyebiola Oyewunmi of the Industrial Court as a proud alumnus.
“In the Lagos State Judiciary alone, we have so many justices such as Justice Yetunde Adesanya, Justice Adenike Coker, Justice Atinuke Oluyemi, Justice Adedayo Akintoye, Justice Idowu Alakija among others.
“In the private bar, we have Mr. Wole Olanipekun, and possibly the wealthiest of lawyers in the country,” he said.
The VP said that so many alumni had formed law firms of great reputation and recognition of their contributions to society.
“For example, we have the late Bankole Aluko, SAN, who co-founded one of the leading law firms in Nigeria today, Aluko and Oyebode.
“Then there is also Femi Olubanwo, co-founder of Banwo and Ighodalo who recently won the Nigerian Law firm of the year award,” he said.
Osinbajo added that himself as the vice president of the country and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, were both alumni of the great institution.
“We also have several former governors such as Gov. David Jemibewon of Oyo State and Gov. Gabriel Suswam of Benue State.
“Also, the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Ade Ipaye and the Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business, Dr Jumoke Oduwole are alumni.
“Both were former students and lecturers in the Faculty of Law, UNILAG and Oduwole is the holder of the Prince Claus Chair from 2013 to 2015,” he said.
The VP said that traditional rulers were not also left out of the UNILAG Faculty of Law alumni mentioning the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akinolu, former AIG.
Osinbajo said that the institution had also produced several attorney generals such as the likes of Mr. Kanu Agabi, Mr. Christopher Ojo, Mr. Adetokunbo Kayode and Mr. Odein Ajumogobia.
“Many SANs have excelled in different ways such as Mr. Fidelis Oditah who is possibly the only one of us who is both Queen’s Council and SAN,” he said.
The VP also recalled when Adokiye Amiesimaka during his days as an undergraduate played for the Sharks FC, Rivers and also won gold at the 1980 African Cup of Nations.
He also said that the entertainment industry and fashion industry had not been spared the creative disruption made by their alumni especially the ladies who are making brilliant contributions in the industries.
“Our own Bolanle Austin-Peters founded Nigeria’s first privately owned theatre, Terraculture; her film on the Ebola outbreak, ’93 Days’ is the highest nominated film in the 2017 African Movie Academy Awards.
“In the fashion world, Omoyemi Akinrele is raising the Nigerian flag high. She is the initiator of the Lagos Fashion Week.
“So, our people are everywhere, and I can keep on bragging about them until forever,” Osinbajo said.
Also, Mr. Ajumogobia who served respectively as the minister of foreign affairs and minister of petroleum praised the multiple roles played by alumni in the country and beyond.
“We have achieved immeasurable successes in careers as diverse as our country,” he said.
Ogundipe, while announcing the record attraction of N17 billion research grant by the university in the last four years, stressed that no other university in the country can boast of achieving such a substantial amount for research purposes within four years.
“To the glory of God within four years we have been able to get research grant of over N17 billion which no other university can boast of achieving.
“I would like to be remembered as a man who emptied himself to improve on what he found on ground when I came in as vice chancellor, UNILAG,” he said.
The vice-chancellor however, appealed to alumni of the Faculty of Law for sponsorship to improve on the facilities so as to make learning more conducive and accessible especially to the physically challenged.
He said that the building at the faculty, which was established since 1962 needed to be renovated, and that there is need to build an additional block that will make provision for elevator for the physically challenged.
“In the years that I have spent as the vice chancellor of UNILAG, we have been able to get more support from the friends of the university than the alumni.
“A friend of the university spent over N200 million to improve on the Human Resource Development Centre (HRDC) facility.
“We have been talking to the alumni of the Faculty of Law for us to have an elevator to take the physically challenged students to the top floor, but we are yet to get support,” he said.
Ogundipe, a botanist, challenged the alumni to improve on existing facilities so that everyone including the physically challenged can have easy access to the top floors.
“I believe that we should be able to add another building to the faculty as well as provide a lift for people soon given the calibre of people that the faculty has produced.
“UNILAG can be like Harvard and Cambridge if it can get support from its alumni in terms of development of infrastructure and improving on academics and research,” he said.
Also speaking, the Dean, Faculty of Law, Prof. Ige Bolodeoku, said that in terms of demography, the faculty has about 2000 students and 57 members of academic staff.
“17 of these staff are professors, six of them are associate professors, 13 are senior lecturers, 7 are lecturer 1 and 14 as lecturer II.
“The faculty is doing a wonderful work in terms of succession, and I am confident that even when the present crop of professors leave, we have others that will take over from them.
“The faculty can boast of the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, as alumni among many ministers, SANs and excellencies,” he said.
Therefore, the dean appealed to the alumni for a new building in the faculty to accommodate the growing number of students and staff for a better conducive learning atmosphere.