BY DAPO IPOOLA,
America‘s 33rd President, Harry S Truman must have had Chief Wole Olanipekun in mind when he said, “Men make history and not the other way around. In periods when there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skilful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.“
By providence and hardwork, Chief Wole Olanipekun is one of the notable and influential lawyers in the legal enclave in Nigeria, and this could not be assailed by any indices or yardstick given the proclivity of cases won and handled. His le-gal dexterity is equal to none ditto his mastery of the technicality of law which goes beyond compare. In recent times, he has won countless legal battles than anyone known in the profession and this adduced to him being the most sought after lawyer and lead counsel in many high profile and sensitive court cases.
Going by his evident demonstration of nobility both in character and profession, Chief Wole Olanipekun never got inebriated by his seemingly unsurpassable accomplishments. Instead, he has being waxing stronger in professional gaits and little wonder he keeps towering above his traducers. And if his early activities are anything to go by, one needs not be told the inherent greatness in this inimitable character.
During his early education (secondary school days), he was the Chairman of the Students Representative Council, and while in the University of Lagos where he obtained his LLB in law, he was the student Union Leader. As a student union lea-der, he vehemently loathed many injustices that were unmeritedly meted against the hapless students and this awakened his activistic spirit as he led other students against the cavalier treatment of the military junta when he frontally faced the soldiers and said, “please, pack your bags and baggages, leave and go back to the barrack where you belong.“
Owing this, Chief Wole Olanipekun along with over 50 other students were unjustly detained. He was first detained at Iyaganku Police Station, for seven days. Thereafter, he was moved to Agodi Prison, in Ibadan. For the whole month of February, in 1974, he was held hostage at Agodi prison before he later met with the then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (retd.).
Upon his university graduation, the activism in him never died as he has continued to be a social critic. He disdainly fights the executive impunity whenever the need arises. He loathes oppression and repression in strong terms. He battles court cases frontally like an incensed bulldog, and he is dreaded by the opposing counsel, respected by judges and adulated by clients. He is an iconoclastic legal prodigy, and a detribalized pan-Nigerian who has sponsored innumerable students who could not afford the exorbitant fees of Law School, and many he never knew from Adams.
Chief Wole Olanipekun is an authority in legal jurisprudence. As a result of his exceptional brilliance, Chief Wole Olanipekun became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 1991, aged 39 years old the youngest in his confirmation year. On July, 1976, young Wole Olanipekun had his call to bar upon graduation from the Nigerian Law School. In 1991, he was appointed as the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of the old Ondo State, and served meritoriously in that capacity for two years. In 2002, he was elected as the 20th President of the Nigerian Bar Association. In 2003, he was appointed as the Vice President of the Pan African Lawyers Union.
In January, 2007, he became a Life Bencher, appointed by the Nigerian Body of Benchers. Chief Wole Olanipekun, has amongst others at different times served as a member of the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee, Council of Legal Education, General Council of the Bar, Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee, Council of both the International Bar Association and Commonwealth for the reform of le-gal profession in Nigeria, and he is also a distinguished member of the Nigerian Bar Association, International Bar Association, and Nigerian Body of Benchers.
Over the last three decades, Chief Wole Olanipekun has been involved as a lead counsel in many high profile cases across various sectors of the Nigerian economy as well as landmark constitutional and statutory enforcement cases including acting as lead counsel to three presidents of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He is a fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. On countless occasions, he has been invited by the Supreme Court of Nigeria as Amicus Curiae in respect of intricate interpretation of law.
As a promoter of education, he was the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Ibadan, between 2004 and 2006. As Pro-Chancellor and Council Chairman of UI, he never collected his statutory allowances which ran into millions of naira. Rather, he directed that the money be given as scholarships to the students in Law, Medicine, and Computer Science faculties, and he also donated a 350-capacity lecture theatre to the university. Not done yet, he donated well over N10m to mitigate the effect of flood damage in the University of Ibadan.
Consequently, he became the Pro-Chancellor and Council Chairman of the Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo. At the Ajayi Crowther University, he inaugurated a beffiting Vice-Chancellor‘s Lodge for the institution. For solid eleven years, the institution‘s VC‘s lodge was housed in a somewhat ramshackled bungalow built for the principal of the then St. Andrews College, over 100 years ago. Also, he was formerly a member of the Governing Council of the University of Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State; and he is an Associate lecturer in a host of the Nigerian universities.
Chief Wole Olanipekun holds National Honour of Officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, OFR, and he has been awarded the Honorary Doctor of Law (LLD), from the University of Ibadan. Taken spell-bound by altruistic gesture at promoting quality education in the country, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Abel Idowu Olayinka, in an occasion where he chaired the presentation of scholarship grant to students of tertiary and post tertiary institutions said, “Egbon Wole is a gift to humanity. His profile goes beyond Ekiti State. Some of us who are his younger brothers call him Asiwaju of the universe. He is one of the topmost five lawyers in this country. When he took the silk, he was the youngest recipient then.” He has achieved so much in the profession of law, and we are proud of his accomplishments. In the area of administration, you only need to come to the University of Ibadan and mention the name, Wole Olanipekun. “While our Pro-Chancellor, his impact was felt and we are still basking in that euphoria. He made a unique sacrifice of not collecting allowances and even spent his own money to give us a big lecture theatre.“
Back at home in his place of birth, Ikere-Ekiti, his philanthropic gestures had once infused effusive smiles in the hopeless and downtrodden. At the Ikere State Specialist Hospital, Chief Wole Olanipekun built a well equipped health care facility in memory of his late mother. It is as a result of this that the General Hospital now enjoys the full status of a Teaching Hospital, as it was recently accredited by the Nigeria Medical Council for housemanship. He gave the medical facility a life of its own by providing ambulance, employing five staff including a cleaner, gardener and nurses who he regularly paid for a year.
In his old alma mater, Amoye Grammar school, Ikere-Ekiti, he donated an ICT centre worth millions of naira so as to assist the students in global educational competitiveness. Just last year, at the 23rd edition of the annual Chief Wole Olanipekun Scholarship Scheme, that was held in his country home, Ikere-Ekiti, 191 indigent Secondary School students and undergraduates were awarded scholarships to assist in their various academic pursuits.
Chief Wole Olanipekun has in unquantifiable measure deployed his arsenal of resources at raising the bar of standard education in Nigeria, just as it is obtainable in civilised clime. For his penchant at reducing the labour market, he established a private radio station code named, New Cruise FM where sizable number of people were employed. As a pious and useful vessel in the vineyard of God, he built and dedicated the over 1600 capacity worship centre, St. Peter‘s Anglican Church, Ikere-Ekiti. Chief Wole Olanipekun in his usual humanitarian magnanimity is not only a promoter of community development but that of donation as he is always fond of donating structures to schools and professional bodies. Just few years ago, he donated a well furnished Bar Centre to the Nigeria Bar Association, Ikere Chapter, along with a multimedia platform, generator and air-conditioners. Later, he took it upon himself by handsomely paying practicing fees for the lawyers in the branch for three years.
If ever there is a fulfilled and accomplished man, in all ramification, it is Chief Wole Olanipekun. As a proud father, all his four children are successful and practicing lawyers. Prominent amongst them are Dr. Dapo and Bode Olanipekun who are both Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SANs. Bode Olanipekun is a young and effervescent individual who got his sanship at a relatively young age of 35, while his brother, Dapo Olanipekun who is a PhD holder and law lecturer at the prestigious University of Lagos got his sanship at 33 years of age while he was 13 years in the bar. Dapo Olanipekun as a law PhD holder, specialises in Banking and International Financial Transaction, from the University of London, Queen Mary.
In the University of London when he submitted his PhD thesis, his supervisor read through and was flabbergasted by his clairvoyance and quipped, “I hope your parents and your country would be as proud of you as we in this university are“. Going by his untainted and unsullied records, Chief Wole Olanipekun has been in the nirvana of the legal profession just as his imprint and track records lend an infallible attestation to this claim. Surely, when posterity beckons, this legal juggernaut shall be vindicated because he has successfully etched his name in gold by his good deeds and immeasurable contributions to humanity which shall remain indelible in the annals of time.
– Ipoola is a public affairs analyst.