Chief Olusola Oke, SAN

The attainment drew attention. It was a big day; the same way the silk is a big deal. Ask learned men at the bar or bench! It’s a highly coveted and envied rank – the highest honour for lawyers on the bar side. It’s lofty. The same height late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, late Chief FRA Williams, icononoclastic Gani Fawehinmi, and other foremost Nigeria lawyers reached. That is what Olusola Alexander Oke, star political actor and lawyer got. Oke earned what he aimed – Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He loves the label, the same way he loves law.

The news and pomp of it permeated the air. It was strong and stubborn, like the smell of an obstinate spell. New and conventional media shouted it. One wonders why the huge hilarity: Oke was not the youngest among the honourees. We do not think he has fatter bank accounts than other recipients of the highest bar honour. Such were the thoughts the day brought. What factors, we query, could account for the day’s special sheen and herald?

We do not think political affection alone fetched the fame for him. No, not all his admirers and enthusiasts know he practices law; to many, he practices politics and nothing else. It is understandable. After all, players around here are professional politicians who make enough conduits for sapping public fund, and do not need to work or have alternative source of livelihood. They do not like a life outside of politics, only a few do. And lanky Oke belongs to this scanty class who carries their careers on the head and hold politics in their hands – class who usually end up atop peers.

Oke ceased the day. We sieved it. Different people shared the day differently. His clan personalised it. His friends and fans enjoyed the sheen with him. Politicians defied dangerous differences, scampered to throw compliments at him. One of those days that brought contradictions and make a mind worry about the manner and mould of motivation. On this side, we harbour peculiar, unspoken admiration. Our cause of compliment is different. We celebrate his failure to allow politics conquer his love for law, they way his pursuit of literacy took him out of touch with fishing, his first love.

He fell in love with angling quite early. Out of school at 7, Oke lived and make living from the creek of the rivers. He deified hitches that deterred him, fought poverty and early denials that walled his way. And for the love of letters, he abandoned lucrative fishing. He didn’t look back ever afterwards, not since he won a degree in Law from the prestigious University of Ife and was called to the Nigerian bar. He did not allow allow distractions. Not even his political transactions where he is neck-deep, where he has taken and given so much, where he is arguably more popular than he is in the legal profession.

By nature, Oke love simples, yet he has smarts. He does it double. Both the streets and creeks he loves with equal fondness. The way he loves law, he loves politics. The former gives him both the gift and guts to soar in his political trade. The latter looms him larger. And both, to him, are keys. Little wonder any fair judge would tell that Oke holds distinctions on either side. He must be distinguished in career to become the National Legal Adviser of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) – erstwhile Nigeria’s ruling party and the country’s major political association. He must be sterling in politics to have been twice gubernatorial candidate of major political parties. He represents a standard.

That is the ideal. The beauty of a second address. Not the other way round. Worthy leaders should be those who make successes of their careers, not darling but dangerous devourers. Many are times discussions rise to the question as to why Nigeria’s political dealings have turned to a chess of treachery. Our political parties field charlatans and demagogues for public offices at the detriment of the people. We celebrate them too. We worship lazy minds who have no substance but cashed in on our collective inertia, or our sweeping, yet costly indifference. And they end up draining corporate purse and blood. Such is the weight of woe that we bear, yet, the debates endure, drawing patriotic minds to poignancy. How we came about the messy descent should worry every one.

The system is quite polluted. Vices and virtues fight for space at our podiums and pulpits, forcing nobility out of the front rows. We enthrone cheap falsities and fantasies. We mix men real men with mere men. We trust leeches and trash leaders. It’s not our fault, sometimes too putative good men loose their heads in positions. However, as we itch to sanitise our mess, it is safer to give more chances to men who are proven successes in their careers, and see how better we can fare.

Oke gave good example. He made great impacts and exploits of his first and second addresses – good and gifted in legal profession as he is in politics. He has the gift of the garb. He moves men. He builds men too. Thrice listed for the title of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, he remained dogged, and won. Twice fielded for governorship position, he stays firm. Today we celebrate the laurel for law, tomorrow’s may be in politics. Which he loves more between the two addresses – politics or law – he should someday say.

Though we define success differently; We feed our differences as ideologues and keep various tent of thoughts, we must converge to convey the fact that Oke typifies the minimum that a worthy leader must be.


*Ikuesewo-Akinbami writes from Akungba Akoko.

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