Legal luminary and Chairman Body of Benchers, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, was last week appointed as a visiting professor of Legal Practice to Federal University, Oye-Ekiti (FOUYE). Raheem Akingbolu reports
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For Olanipekun, who, three weeks before the event led stakeholders in the legal profession to the inauguration of the ultra-modern court room, he donated to the Ekiti State High Court, Ikere Judicial Division, the Oye Ekiti’s appointment was a recognition of his outstanding contributions to the legal profession and to education in Nigeria.
Beyond Law, his contribution to education traverses many institutions, including University of Ibadan, University of Ilorin, University of Lagos, Ajayi Crowder University and others. In 1996, the legal icon set up the Wole Olanipekun Scholarship Scheme for awarding scholarships to brilliant but indigent students and since then, the scheme has produced many talented beneficiaries, some of whom are now doctors, lawyers, engineers, pharmacists, accountants and educationists.
Of course, all these have consistently attracted recognitions from various institutions. For instance, after Olanipekun’s meritorious service to the University of Ibadan, where he once served as Chairman, Governing Council, he was conferred with an honourary Doctor of Law (LL.D) by the University. At least, it’s on record that this legal titan single-handedly built and donated to the Faculty of Law of the University of Ibadan a 420-seater fully-equipped and furnished Auditorium, which was inaugurated in 2012.
Two years ago, at the 13th convocation of the Redeemer’s University, Ede, Osun State, the management conferred its honourary Doctorate Degree of Letters on Chief Olanipekun.
At FUOYE in Ekiti State where he was recently conferred with honorary doctorate in Constitutional Law, alongside two other eminent Nigerians who were conferred with honorary doctorates of the institution in other fields of endeavour, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Abayomi Fasina said the decision to integrate renowned lawyer was to create a unique room of opportunity for the students of the institution to benefit from his wealth of experience.
Professor Fasina disclosed that Olanipekun had become a role model not only in the legal profession but in the promotion of quality education as well as philosophy. He explained that Olanipekun has contributed in no small measure to humanity and national development.
Considering the disposition of the enthralled audience while the VC reeled out Olanipekun’s achievements, everyone, including the fussiest agreed it was an honour well-deserved.
While appreciating the gesture of the university management towards him, Olanipekun announced a N10 million donation to the first 20 best graduating students in the Law Faculty.
In his reaction to the role of role model which the vice chancellor said he would want the eminent Lawyer plays, Olanipekun said he would commence immediate interactions with the Law students of FOUYE as soon as possible.
He said, “I am not rich and at the same time, I am not poor. But I count myself as a child of grace. I am always happy putting smiles on the face of underprivileged and it gives me great pleasure any day to give back to the society. So, our people should not discourage some of us who are willing to give back to the society with unnecessary criticisms.” Olanipekun admonished.
He also admonished the academia to deploy their God’s giving knowledge in profitable ventures rather than indulging in frivolities. The legal giant said all his donations to individuals, church as well as community were not intended for any personal rewards.
Referring to the recent donation of High Court Complex to Ekiti State Judiciary, Olanipekun argued that the gesture was in line with the best global practices.
He specifically mentioned that the edifices housing the International Court of Justice, Hague and the Israeli Supreme Court were both donated by private individuals.
Born on November18, 1951 at Ikere-Ekiti, Olanipekun attended Amoye Grammar School, Ikere-Ekiti, Ilesha Grammar School, Ilesha, University of Lagos, the Nigerian Law School and was called to the Nigerian Bar in July, 1976.
He was recognised as a leader in achievement in Ondo State in 1994, honoured with Merit Award Certificate as an illustrious son of Ikere in 1996 and conferred with Aare Bamofin of Owo in 1995, among others.
Olanipekun has positively impacted on many people in different and diverse areas of life, including education, religion, industry and employment.
Exactly three years ago, the legal titan built an ultra-modern auditorium within the premises of Saint Peter Anglican Church, Ikere Ekiti and donated it to Anglican Communion.
In February 2009, he built, equipped and donated a modern IT building to Amoye Grammar School, Ikere-Ekiti. Also, in March 2012, God provided for him the means to donate a modern Vicarage to St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Ikere. In July 2011, he planted an Endowment Fund for junior lawyers, particularly in the Lagos and Ilorin branches of the NBA.
He is a patron to the Law Students’ Society in UNILAG, UNILORIN, U.I, UNAD, OAU, Ife and Igbinedion University. He has presented over 200 papers on diverse topics within and outside Nigeria.