By Eric Teniola
HE was very close to three of my friends at that time – Kayode Osifeso of the Daily Times, Richard Amayo of The Nigerian Observer and Alhaji Adeola Bashiru alias Asiriabo also of The Nigerian Observer. They spoke highly of him then and of his hard work.
In 1987, he came to see my then boss, Governor Ekundayo Babakayode Opaleye of the then Ondo State in Akure. He first came to my office before seeing the governor. I reminded him of his then office at Adamasingba, Ibadan and of what my friends said about him.
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He expressed his gratitude. At that time we were told of his bosom friendship with Chief Festus Olusola Fajana from Ado-Ekiti, father to Susan Jumoke Fajana-Thomas, UK Labour politician and the former Mayor of Hackney in London. The two of them were like twins.
A lot has been said about Chief Afe Babalola and a lot will still be written about him. He is a self-made man, who believes in hard work. Chief Afe Babalola was born in Ado-Ekiti about ninety-years ago.
I am told his mother died at 107 years old. Longevity is in their family. Chief Emmanuel Afe Babalola attended Emmanuel Primary School, Ado Ekiti. He later enrolled for the Senior Cambridge School Certificate examination by private study from Wolsey Hall, Oxford.
He later obtained the A’Level certificate of London University before he proceeded to London School of Economics where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Economics. He worked briefly at the Central Bank of Nigeria before he left to the University of London where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Law. In 1963, he was called to the English Bar, the same year he became a member of Lincoln’s Inn, London.
Chief Afe Babalola began his career at Ibadan, as a litigation lawyer in Olu Ayoola and Co, law firm. In 1965, after two years of legal practice, he established his own law firm, Afe Babalola and Co. (Emmanuel Chambers).
In 1987, he became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, the highest rank in the legal profession in Nigeria. In 2001, he was appointed, Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the former President of Nigeria.
He held the position till 2008 during which he emerged as best Pro-Chancellor of Nigerian Universities consecutively in 2005 and 2006. In 2009, he established Afe Babalola University to promote education in Nigeria and the university’s College of law has at different times been rated as best in Nigeria. In 2013, the university was ranked the second best private university in Nigeria and 17 of 136 universities in Nigeria. He was described by the Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN as a molder and builder of future leaders as well as a philanthropist of repute during the 5th convocation ceremony of the institution in October 2017.
After the convocation ceremonies, I took a tour round Afe Babalola University. I am impressed by the newly constructed female and male halls of residence. Same with the Colleges of Engineering, Law, Sciences and the E-Library.
I was told that the water plant in the university supplies clean water to all sections in the university. Equally the university has food preservation house, a bakery, a laundry and a Printing Press. The various laboratories in the university and the main hall in the university are much impressive.
The Mechatronics Engineering Programme of the University is equipped with FESTO Automation and Mechatronics Laboratory equipment from Germany.
The Mechanical Workshop is also equipped with Mechanical Laboratory equipment by CES Industries of America.
My impression after the tour is that a miracle is going on in Ado-Ekiti. I hope and wish it could be sustained.