By Ishola Balogun
Kayode Ajulo is a lawyer, Founder/ Chairman of the Board of Egalitarian Mission, Africa, a Non-Governmental Organization maintaining and promoting the belief that all people are, in principle, equal and should enjoy equal social, political, and economic rights and opportunities.
A senatorial candidate of Labour Party (LP) in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT Abuja and the Coordinator of the Afenifere group in FCT, Abuja during the last election, Ajulo coordinates the activities of Free-A-Prisoner-A-Day (FAPAD) an initiative of Egalitarian Mission, Africa that ensure that at least a prisoner/detainee is released each day.
His brilliance earned him “The Most Enterprising Young Lawyer in Nigeria award by National Waves Magazine and Legal Personality of The Year award by (Press Gallery) both in 2009. He is our role model this week.
How does success mean to you, is it by power or by size of bank accounts?
For me it is not certainly how much you have, success cannot be measure with material possessions, as success is not a destination but a means and parameter of achieving what you set out to do, I see it much as fulfilment, it’s like writing an exam and you passed, to me the fulfilment I got from the pass is success to me.
As a lawyer, every case I won make me more fulfilled and successful than how much I am paid, imagine the joy of getting someone off trouble, of achieving that justice has been done and the value you add to your society. There are millions of people out there who lead successful, fulfilled lives who may be of modest means. I may not be rich in the financial sense, but I am rich in life and values.
I measure my wealth in terms of the numbers of the people I am able to be a blessing to.
What informed the choice of your career
I was prompted by providence, parents, and peers. My father was a manager at one of the oldest bookshop chain in Nigeria; I was therefore exposed to books at an early age. In fact, books happened to be what I first recognised. As a toddler, I didn’t really have toys, but books; yes, books, and books.
How were you influenced by your parents and peers?
As stated above my father was a booksellers, my mother too, we are Anglican, even our lives revolved the Church, CSS Bookshop belongs to the Church, in my house all I can remember till date is Books, Bible, Hymn Books, communion wines etc., we are more of an ambassador of the church and you’re are expected to live by the core values of the church, My Parents ensure that we live as example to others, you must be honest at all time, I still remember his slogan then, “ Ranti omo eni ti iwo nse” i.e. always remember the son of whose father you were” we cant afford to fail him, everybody eyes are on you, the church community, the intellectual community and others.
In my choice of carrier as a lawyer, My Lord, Honourable Justice Kayode Esho, the retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, indirectly, first influenced me to study law. He is a great and well known jurist, and since I share my first name with him, many chose to call me Kayode Esho, which I found very complimentary. My father was also his friend, he ensured that I met him at the bookshop, when he came shopping. I must have been eight years old then; that encounter stuck to my memory – Justice Kayode Esho had on a bow tie, he looked so good – tall, dapper, classic and reverend. He still does. If anybody, then, asked me what I intended to do in future, my answer was; I wanted to be Kayode; Kayode Esho.
As I was growing up, I read about him always and got interested in law; this was reinforced by Chief G.O.K. Ajayi, SAN, with the way he successfully prosecuted Chief Adekunle Ajasin and Chief Akin Omoboriowo’s election imbroglio and petition, despite the loss of several lives and properties. The issue was settled in court with outstanding tranquillity in the old Ondo State.
As time went by, I got consumed with the late Kanmi Ishola Osobu, late Aka-Bashorun and late Gani Fawehinmi’s style of advocacy and activism. In fact, late Kanmi Ishola-Oshobu, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s lawyer, a fire-brand lawyer actually filled my JAMB form to study law in his Sheraton Hotel room in Abuja, while Brigadier Benjamin Adekunle (Black Scorpion), and Prof. Idris Abdulkadir (then the Executive Secretary of National University Commission, ensured that I attended the University of Jos to become a lawyer.
How did you attain your present position?
Law has tremendously influenced me that I will forever adopt the indelible words of Hon. Justice G.B.A. Coker (retired) of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. I quote: “If I come to the world ten times over and over, I will always be a lawyer.”
Nothing can be compared to law. To me it is the fastest way to success. A lawyer is a member of a versatile, learned, and honourable profession. He may be a President, Governor, Chairman, CEO, Judge, a teacher of Law, a Company Director or Secretary, a Civil Servant, an Office-Holder in any capacity, a Solicitor and Advocate, an Arbitrator entering into negotiations on behalf of his clients, or even a general in the army.
Barack Obama, Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Obafemi Awolowo, Kayode Esho, Chukwudifu Oputa, Babatunde Fashola, Wole Olanipekun, Wale Babalakin, Gani Fawehinmi, Femi Falana, Nuhu Ribadu etc, are a few examples of who a lawyer should be in the society, and very unfortunately, Wole Soyinka, Gov. Mimiko, Gov. Oshiomhole, Oby Ezekwesili, and the rest are not lawyers, I wish they could give the study a try, they will be more enhanced than what they are now.
What is your view of leadership in Nigeria?
As a lawyer, my view of leadership in Nigeria is viewed from our cultural perspective and the world order of democracy and good governance.
Leadership to me is inspiring others to do the desirable that is relatively accepted by all, here the majority. However our cultural background is the major impediment, as our system also throws up rulers to lord over the people with huge negative consequence, leaders are to lead while rulers are to rule, to lord over us, and when doing this instead of urging and compelling to do our bidding, we have to woo them and beg them in form of one sacrifice and another, and what comes around go around, and that’s why those that supposed to serve us believe that they are doing us a favour which we must pay for and that’s is the ground norm of corruption, the bane of our development as a nation, that’s why a policeman believe that without you parting with N50 nothing can work for you, the situation is so bad that a petrol attendant believes that you must give him something before getting the service he is being paid for. Go everywhere; there is corruption in different colours and shades.
Consequently, it caused rising expectations resulting from such “non-delivery of dividends of democracy” rapidly degenerate into the opposite feelings aptly described by Professor Lerner as a revolution of mounting frustration.
In Nigeria context how do you think the average youth can realize his full potentials?
If the truth must be told Nigeria is a country with numerous business and investment potentials due to the abundant, vibrant and dynamic human and natural resources it possesses. Nigerians youth are very enterprising people but our problem is the perception and what we see around us, you saw someone stealing money and nothing happen to him but is honoured with chieftaincy titles and those funny awards.
What I am saying here is about mentoring, how is Nigerian communities and government are mentoring their youths? Go to those embassies and check out what some young people aided by their family do to get a common visa to EU, the resources wasted can set up a big enterprise, I wept whenever I am in UK seeing my friends working they can do three shifts in a day some went for 18, 24 hours a day; can they do that in Nigeria, no! Please go through all those 419/scam letters and check out the lines of ideas of those letters you will agree with me that if they really go legit the sky is the beginning for the writers of such letter but Nigeria system has brainwashed us that you can only realised your potential by other means. Our systems wittingly glorify crime. All these must change and there must be reward and punishment again and our youths will bring out their best potentials in a positive ways.