On the 15th day of February 2020, I watched a live programme of the 8th Matriculation Ceremony of Gregory University, Uturu, Abia State, on NTAi (Nigerian Television Authority International). On the programme, a segment caught my attention and that was where the Honourable Minister of Transportation, His Excellency, Rotimi Amaechi was sharing some of his past personal stories with the matriculating students of the university and he was encouraging them to work hard and to avoid being distracted from their education by any circumstance either as males or as females.
In His Excellency’s advice, he informed about how his father had no money to sponsor his education to the University of Jos but his father had to sacrifice to sponsor him and being the first child of his father, he was invested into by his father till he graduated and that he had to sponsor his other siblings in their education. He also narrated how he had to drink garri three times a day and yet, the future was pregnant for successes for him after he finished his university education. According to his narration and which is the aspect that also moved me with great focus, that he became the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rivers State (twice elected) at the age of 34 and that he became the Governor of Rivers State at the age of 42 (twice elected) with astounding and undefeatable performances and currently the Minister of Transportation.
Then, I asked myself, if His Excellency had passed through all these challenges in life and yet he became a Speaker at the age of 34 and became a Governor at the age of 42, and currently the Minister of Transportation, I am 34 years old at the moment by God’s grace this year and in few months. Alas! I have not become even a Special Adviser to any political office holder where my intellect and know-how could be invested in the development of Nigeria or any part of Nigeria! At 42, what will I become?! Governor or a Senior Advocate of Nigeria or both or what will I become?! These and many more questions have taken over my mind! So far we live, we must struggle to achieve the pick of performances and achievements! God to my understanding, never promised us that we shall live unfulfilled and wretchedly in this life even though we dream and hope for His paradise!
We must not forget our share of success in this life! This thoughts made me pick up my golden pen to share my feelings with the readers of this paper and perhaps, His Excellency Rotimi Amaechi will get to read this piece of my feelings so that His Excellency would also be aware that his token to those matriculating students was not only for them but for me as well as I have gained enough of courage by his life history! I also desire that young lawyers would find lessons from this piece as the courage to build a brighter future in themselves!
First and foremost, I like to learn and listen to some personalities who have indeed passed through some of the challenges that I have passed through as I was growing up and till now, I am still struggling! All thanks and glory belong to God Almighty!
Permit me to share some of my experiences with the readers. I understand that there was a kind of joy and fulfilment that must have filled the intent of His Excellency, Rotimi Amaechi as he continued to tell about his stories in life and those challenges that he went through for almost an hour or more! He managed to pause and stop perhaps because of the time of the programme! If I had the opportunity, I wish to learn more from His Excellency, personally! Even His Excellency (according to him), would always tell his stories to his children! I wish I find the time too to tell my history to my children too! But before then, I wish to tell just a few to the readers in this piece of article! People like His Excellency and permit me to also say, respectfully, like me, have nothing to hide from their life history as the figure is that of the public figure, then, all affairs are publicly written in gold!
My education had become impossible at primary 6 when I lost my maternal grandfather (may God Almighty show him mercy) then at the age of twelve (12) who was responsible for the family’s maintenance. But at the age of 11 in primary 5, sustenance had become somehow uneasy, so, I had to go out in the streets, trekking like almost an hour from Sabo-Gaa, Abeokuta North, Abeokuta to Lafenwa in Abeokuta, Ogun State’s market, to buy and hawk iced-water around the market I the sun and in the rain with sweet marketing at N1, around the year 1997, immediately I returned from school later in the evening and in the morning of weekends. At 1998, I finished my primary school but there was no money for me to proceed in my education. So, I had to apply as a maid washing utensil for a woman who used to run a local restaurant then, who used to pay me sum hundreds of naira (which I cannot remember the amount for now) for some months. Then, I had to enrol to learn electrical electronic engineering (auxiliary) from a man for a year and above.
In all, I had to remain at home without going to school for a total period of two years. Then, at the age of 14, my father enrolled me in a secondary school in Lagos (as a Lagosian) where I started from Junior Secondary School Class 2 at St. Lukes Junior Grammar School, CMS Complex, in the year 2000. Then, without attending any tutorial, without having attended J.S.S. 1 CLASS, I passed on trial and I was promoted to Class 2. Then, I had to work hard and I managed to get to the Senior Secondary School, Ajayi Crowther Memorial Senior Grammar School, where I was a class captain and later a school prefect with an astounding testimonial from the school authority till I graduated in the year 2005. I had a delay to secure admission into the university so I had to stay for three years. Then, in the year 2008, I secured admission into the Lagos State University, faculty of law, Ojo, Lagos.
However, money caused me to almost lose my admission (it was a long story that cannot be discussed in this piece). A philanthropist (may God Almighty continue to favour him and show him mercy) had paid my admission fees and picked me up and vowed to sponsor me till the Nigerian Law School. He would pay me the sum of N60,000 only yearly in an education trust fund run by a charitable foundation. I also got some grants from a charitable organization too. Then, I had to secure a teaching job (as runs) through the efforts of a hostel room-mate at the university (may God make him happy). Then, I had to struggle and worked hard! I had to avoid all distractions and made my focus as my favourite and I had to keep moving. Then, I was asking God, what do you want from me that you have continued to always be of help to me?! Why did you make me study law despite my conditions?! And I can tell you, I had never repeated any class in my education and never had any carried-over in my university. I was among one of the best students in all my departments and faculty in the university (not a pride). I had to then enrol into the Nigerian law school for my B.L. in law.
I was then called to the Nigerian Bar in the year 2014. In the 2015, I served in my National Youth Service Corps where I passed out with being awarded the FCT- Minister’s Award of Honour as one of the best corps member in the FCT Abuja, after having astoundingly performed in my services to humanity and by carrying out some personal community development services to my host communities. After my NYSC, I had worked as a counsel in a law firm for two months and about two weeks in the year 2016 and I had to resign and established my law office by the registered name ‘THE VICEGERENT LEGAL CONSULT’ based in Abuja, where I base at the moment. I am also a human and socio-economic rights activist too.
With God’s grace, my law office is five (5) years old this year (even though, I am a young lawyer). Within this five (5) years, I have handled more than fifty cases across the Federal Capital Territory- Abuja, in both civil and criminal cases up to the Court of Appeal of Nigeria in many cases. Also, in the year 2018, upon my legal recommendations to the Honourable, the Grand Kadi of the Shariah Court of Appeal on the need for His Lordship to utilize His Lordship’s powers under the Constitution to establish Islamic Marriage Registry and Islamic Probate Registry, Shariah Court of Appeal, Headquarters, Federal Capital Territory- Abuja, I was appointed a Member of an ad-hoc Committee for the Establishment of Islamic Marriage Registry and Islamic Probate Registry, Shariah Court of Appeal, Headquarters, Federal Capital Territory- Abuja, established by the Honourable Grand-Kadi of the Shariah Court of Appeal, Abuja, to consider the establishment of those two very important registries in the Federal Capital Territory- Abuja.
I also contested and was elected as the Assistant-Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abuja Branch (Unity Bar) under the Chairmanship of Mr Folarin Aluko immediately I became five years at the bar i.e. in the year 2018. Over these few years, I have through my law office, engaged in legal services to my clients (though, still struggling), in the following areas: Corporate Law Practices, Litigation, Property Law Practices, Debt Recovery, Criminal laws, Human Rights Protection, Electricity Law Practices, General Public Law Practices, Islamic Personal Law Practices, General Consultancy. I created a pro bono Whatsapp group called Hameed Ajibola Jimoh’s Pro bono Legal Mentorship Forum where I render free legal consultation to non-lawyers across Nigeria with more than one hundred (100) members-free of charge. I have just registered a non-governmental organization for charitable services by the name ‘STAND UP FOR SOMEONE’S RIGHT INITIATIVE (SUSOR INITIATIVE). All these are not for show off or to canvass for any political office either in the NBA or elsewhere but a sincere account for our young lawyers to remain serious and focused and for them to utilize their early years in the legal profession and life very well in preparation for their future prosperity.
Furthermore, my articles as of moment are more than three hundred (300) in public circulation, more so, I had started writing articles since the year 2015, in my NYSC, where I had been writing as a columnist in the Nigerian Pilot News Paper for years and a columnist too with Unini theNigerianlawyerblog and other blogs. I am also a Media consultant on legal issues with several interviews (both live and recorded) held with Independent Television (ITV) News; the Coretv News; the Silverbird Television, Daily Trust Newspaper, Daily Times Newspaper; The Sun Newspaper; Nigerian Pilot Newspaper, online-blogs: such as www.nigerialawyer.com, www.elombah.com, www.news-chronicle.com among others. There are many more accounts that the space in this paper cannot permit. With all these accounts, I give all the glory to God Almighty!
Therefore, young lawyers should try their best to remain focused. In your law office, always make yourself available to being used in the practice of the law. Study your law books and legal principles. Read through all the files and letters, documents, correspondences which you are allowed to read and study in the file cabinet or the office. When you are obligated to carry out any official duty, make sure that you do your best in working without supervision. Your years of being a young lawyer should be to learn the practice of the law. Please, learn from the life history of His Excellency, Rotimi Amaechi and other renowned personalities and know that your poverty is not a barrier to your living in a fulfilled life! Sometimes, success is not a 100 meter-dash, you must keep moving in hard-work and consistency. Avoid distractions!
The question that I continue to ask myself now is that if His Excellency, Rotimi Amaechi had become a Speaker of the House of Assembly, River State at the age of 34 (and I am 34 years old this year and I am not even a Special Adviser not to talk of a Speaker of any House of Assembly) and Governor at the age of 42 and currently the Minister of Transportation, what will I become at this age 34 and age of 42?! In planning for these ages, one must remain focused and prayerful. I also understand that in life, there is a time that if wasted and or missed, cannot be recovered anymore, such as the way our youthful age runs to take us to our old age! So, young lawyers, be focused!
Finally, I believe that young lawyers would find this piece of compassionate advice useful and they would be well guided in their endeavours. This is my story! What will yours be when you are 34 and 42?!