Olanipekun: My man of the year
Just like in a major football tournament in which an outstanding player is chosen as the “man of the match” or “Most Valuable Player” (MVP), I intend to use this medium to pick my own man of the year 2009. The criteria for my choice are: altruistic contributions to national life, sincerity of purpose, integrity and benevolence towards humanity.
So many prominent Nigerians met these criteria but the award is just one and it goes to the most outstanding nominee. My own man of the year is Oluwole Oladapo Olanipekun, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), a Pro-chancellor and chairman of governing council, University of Ibadan (UI). Chief Olanipekun, a one-time President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), no doubt, deserves public accolades for his public and private conducts that have earned him national and international respect.
His humility is as striking as his unassuming mien. Gracious in gait, benevolent in speech and magnanimous in deeds. Chief Olanipekun’s contribution to national development through his private practice as a lawyer is unquantifiable. While some describe him as an embodiment of integrity, others call him an epitome of incorruptibility, yet few others see him as an icon of probity and rectitude.
In a public testimony to his stainlessness, Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji told a gathering at the University of Ibadan lecture that when he (Orji) had a case and he was looking for the best lawyer in the country to handle it, “everybody was whispering to me, ” Olanipekun”. According to the Abia State governor, “people said Wole would not collect your money if your case is bad. When his recommendation was too overwhelming, I called him and he won my case for me.”
Demonstrating his kind-heartedness, Chief Olanipekun recently gave out scholarship worth N2.5 million to students of Ekiti State origin in the 13th edition of Chief Wole Olanipekun scholarship scheme. Some of these students would have had their academic pursuit terminated without this lifeline. I feel vicariously elated for these beneficiaries of Olanipekun’s generosity.
This writer who is not from Ekiti, Chief Olanipekun’s state of origin, has equally benefited substantially from the milk of human kindness flowing in the vein of this legal icon. I remember recently when I lost my aged mother and the cost of giving befitting burial appeared choking. Chief Olanipekun, at a short notice via text message, dazed me with his helping hand. Indeed, for me at that period, he thawed my mountain of fear and turned my mourning to dancing.
Chief Olanipekun has equally touched many lives positively to the extent that his name is now synonymous with solution. If indeed every well-placed Nigerian can show affection to the less-privileged as this legal icon is doing, life would be made more meaningful. It is against this background that I have chosen him as my man of the year. May God endow Nigeria with more Olanipekuns.