Tribute to an Erudite Lawyer at 77.
Nation building globally remains a complex task that solely depends on the performance of Leaders serving it today and throughout history. Leadership quality can systematically create some rapid, sustainable, profound changes in human behavior. Most of the literatures, comprising of experts and popular scholars opinions on leadership abound with formulistic, more or less prescriptive steps endorsed by two or more iconic figures of their regimen . Regardless of plethora of literature in leadership studies providing practical and logical tactics, many falls short on implementation ; thus results in failure as best leadership style is self-actualized. A key theme is Leader’s own ability to get things done by influencing others. Nigeria as a country still grappling with the technicality of national leadership with series of dark side influence including coercion ,dominance ,manipulation , excess control ,bullying represents the impoverished leadership style and abuse of powers that have pervaded Nigeria’s nascent democracy and diametrically opposed to the interpretation of expected outcomes from the influences of leaders .
In short, a leader’s influence via series of constructive behaviors ,interactions and intervention that primarily creates a positive psycho-social environment culminating in engaged ,committed nationhood reflected in their citizens well-being is considered a positive leadership .Leaders are seen virtually in every sphere of national endeavour whichcuts across civil service and other sectors of public and private divisions providing management services. Regardless of the logic that puts the context of leaders in match with that of a Manager, leaders interpret their organization processes from an innate worldview. Institutional memory has also established that while there are hundreds of thousands of leaders existing within the circuits of Governance and management , the key ingredient still lacking is ‘’leadership ‘’.
The key contention is that many leaders still have no idea what leadership is within the Nigerian society .
In spite of the shortfall of leadership, a few Nigerians have however adapted systemically to their worldviews to develop their ecological intelligence in order to address overarching challenges their society faces. Organizational leaders , politicians and educators need to change their cognitive thought processes as well as become aware of the need for such cognitive changes (Capra ,1996). In other words, there is a need for Nigerian Leaders to think differently by pushing a shift from mechanistic(worldview) linear perspective to a systematic , holistic and people centered ecological perspective .
A living evidence of Nigerians Who have made cognitive and ecological realization in leadership is Olabode Olajumoke , a Russian trained lawyer and politician born on Saturday, 1st July ,1944 in his hometown, Imeri , a yoruba speaking community in Ondo State, Nigeria.
Young Bode started his public service career at the Nigerian Ports Authority from where he joined the Daily Times of Nigeria . He covered the popular treasonable felony case between the Federal Government and Dr Tunji Otegbeye . The case signaled a major landmark in the life of Bode who developed interest to study law. His encounter with Tunji Otegbeye’s trial brought him closer to the foremost revolutionarist who also exposed him to learn Marxist Lennist thoughts of Mao Tse Dung, Fidel Castrol, Che Gueva ,Frantz Fannon , Dr Kwame Nkrumah ,Leopold Senghor, Mwalitsu Nyerere among others .
In 1965, He got the Soviet Union Government Scholarship to study law at the famous Friendship University , Moscow ,Russia.
He finished with distinction with an LL.M degree. He was thereafter admitted in 1970 for a Doctoral Degree studies in the International Law Department of the Faculty of Law, University of Edinburgh, UK where he was awarded Doctor of Philosophy in Law . As a public spirited Nigerian, Olajumoke rejoined the Civil Service in 1974 after his education and return to Nigeria . He graduated from the Nigerian Law School as a Solicitor and Barrister of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 1984. He left the civil service in 1987 to establish his law Firm, Poopola and Olajumoke at Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos .
As a politician, Dr. Bode Olajumoke ventured into politics in the early nineties by convening Imeri Unity Group (IUG), a pseudo political movement established to change the paradigm in Western Nigeria. He was anxious that his people of Yoruba extraction should move from regional political theatre to the national as the centre influences so many critical decisions in Nigeria. The focus of IUG was to galvanise the Yoruba speaking people of the six Southwest states and the two states of Kogi and Kwara to play central politics. This intention materialized as the movement attracted followers of Governor Jakande and his deputy Jafojo, Chief J.S Olawoyin of Offa, Chief Yomi Akintola and Chief Oluwole Awolowo both from the prominent families of late S.L.A. Akintola’s family of Ogbomoso and late Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s of Ikenne and many other prominent Yoruba Leaders.
Long before Dr. Bode Olajumoke contested the Senate seat, he had sponsored many budding politicians for elective and executive offices.
In year 2007, he eventually ran for the Senatorial seat of his Ondo North winning one of the largest votes nationwide.
In the senate, he sponsored many bills and motions geared towards the welfare of his people. His major bill which was passed Into law was the Disability Bill 2011 whose focus was to make all public buildings accessible to disabled persons as it is practised in civilised nations of the world.
This landmark bill indeed had been tested and actualised some years earlier when Dr Bode Olajumoke was the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko. As the Pro-Chancellor, he converted the institution from a glorified secondary school into a modern university such that within two years of his Chairmanship of the University’s Council, the institution went through remarkable transformation and was adjudged the best State University in Nigeria by the Nigerian Universities Commission ,NUC. Massive road networks sprawled the university landscapes, modern lecture theatres were constructed.
He ensured that all emerging structures - roads, buildings, lecture theatres were disabled compliant. He did not limit this campaign to Adekunle Ajasin University alone. As a prominent member of the national conference of Pro-Chancellors, he persuaded his colleagues in other universities to adopt the policy of making their campuses disabled friendly. Some Pro-Chancellors visited his University to emulate the concept. Such was his passion for the disabled and less privileged that at the earliest opportunity, he had as a Senator, his major bill on disability in the one term he was privileged to serve was passed by the Senate into law.
He was Chairman, Senate Committee on the Navy and was honoured by the Nigerian Navy and his colleagues on the Committee through the siting of a Navy secondary school in his ward of Imeri. He impacted on his six local government areas through one form of project or another.
Senator Bode Olajumoke was appointed the Inaugural Chancellor of Achievers University, Owo.
He is a Member of the Board, University of Ibadan Advancement Centre .
Olajumoke’s inspring account of breakthroughs in the areas of education,defense and support for people living with special needs distinguishes him as what novelist, Jeffery Archer would theatrically describe as the “First Among Equals,’ but has never been consumed by the aura and paraphernalia of his office . As a federal lawmaker, he led people-centered opinions on the floor of the hallowed chamber and supported spectacular drives for a greater Nigeria. Professionally as a Lawyer, Olajumoke’s advocacy clearly stands him out as a genius whose publications inspire deep thinking and actions especially on socio-political themes. He believes strongly that the cause of justice can be effectively served by ensuring the principles of liberty, due process and freedom of people and nations . Olajumoke’s patriotic leadership began from cradle as a member of the Boys Scout movement where scouting had prepared him to be a leader of character, discipline and valour. He joined the movement in 1958 and served the organization meritoriously; most notably through his sponsorship of people with disabilities otherwise known as special scouts to national and international events. Notable among these philanthropic actions was his sponsor of Scouts with special needs to the 21st World Scout Jamboree, Hylands Park, Essex,UK, (2007) to participate in the largest gathering of scouts globally to feel sense of belonging. He was elected at the General Assembly of the movement in August 2018 as the Vice Chairperson, National Scout Board of Nigeria Scouts. Olajumoke, a gentleman who consistently adorns himself in friendly, youngish and inviting outlooks founded the Mission to save the helpless (MITOSATH)- a humanitarian NGO incorporated in march 1996 with the mission of promoting health development, reliefs on poverty and deprivation ; particularly fighting tropical diseases among the under-privileged.
As part of his vision to provide empowerment opportunity to young people and inspire them to develop interest in agriculture, Olajumoke established a multimillion naira community project live-stock farm in Lagos on 30 acres of land contributing to food security and employments of out of job workers mostly young people under the age of 30 within the local community.
What astounded his subordinates and Associates infinitely was his strong discipline and firm stand with appointment and accountability, he scheduled downtime to all meetings and cancelled most appointments occurring outside deadlines. His eagerness to accept worthwhile suggestions, reforms or innovations that were capable of improving the Nigerian Society whilst keeping extraordinary commitment to every cause of positive national action also ranked him as one of the modest ,true Leaders that have served within our Nation’s Democracy.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the cerebral Lawyer and a septuagenarian philanthropist on the auspicious occasion of his 77th birthday .
Raji Bomodeoku is Public Health Practitioner , Entrepreneur , Agriculture Consultant and a Scout Leader .