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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

For the greatest man I know

Grandpa, you are the greatest man I have ever come across. As a lawyer, you set the mark. As a jurist, you were the embodiment of impartiality. As an administrator, you have played your role to the best of your abilities and I am ever proud to have an association with your great name. As your first grandchild, I owe a good measure of whatever sense of responsibility I currently possess to you. A lot of the things that make up my life stem from you. Jeffrey Archer is one of  my favorite authors: the first Jeffrey Archer book I read came from your library.  The excellence you attained in the legal field inspired me to study Law. I used to play with your wig and gown as a child and daydream. When I told you of my plans to study Law, I saw the pride you felt.  When I started to tilt towards the Journalism side like my Father, you would constantly tell my Mum "I hope that boy is not saying he wants to be a Journalist now. We can't lose him." Everyone tells me how lucky I am to have a foremost legal luminary in the family. For one, it opens doors. Another benefit is I could easily inherit your library (*hint hint* you know what to do).

When I was a child and we would come to Ibadan, you would have overtaken my Mother's room which doubled as your study trying to create some judgment. It was from you I would learn how important a highlighter is for a Lawyer. As I study Law now, I understand the amount of work and time invested into being a Judge and my respect for you reaches greater heights. I read on you today and see you compared to Lord Denning. That makes me feel much taller. As soon as I became interested in football, I knew I didn't want to be anything but an Arsenal fan. You told me the story of how when you first came to England, your guardian being a season ticket holder at Highbury took you to see them play. Every Summer when we came to England, you would bemoan the fact that we were there during the off season as we couldn't go and see any games.  My brother and I know no other colours than the red and white and I'm pretty confident our children would follow suit. (Not like they have a choice.  Boluwatife, better go and burn that Chelsea jersey).

The one thing I admire most about you is your sense of selflessness. Traveling with you, I saw how you would ensure you made those you loved smile. When you bought a book, you would buy copies for my father and your bosom friend, Professor Akinkugbe. When we went shopping, the first things you would look for were gifts for Mr. Friday's children and other members of your staff. When the time came for us to pack your stuff, most of the stuff in it would not even belong to you.

When Grandma went to join her maker, your strength inspired me. You were married for more than 40 years. You lost your best friend, your sleeping partner who would listen to your every thought for the better part of four decades. That brought me closer to you. I told my Mum how I wanted to sleep at your side and I got my way. I would follow you to play golf and even though I still don't understand how it works, I enjoyed being around you. You would tell me things people my age shouldn't be hearing. Thank you though, it made me feel older than I was and I would say it played a key role in helping me mature. You were always composed and never wallowed in the pain; instead you consumed yourself in your work and are still going strong to this day.

Being a judge requires a great degree of moral fortitude and I strive to be like you in this regard. Your life is testimony of the merits of hard work.  From being the first Editor of the Nigerian Law Weekly Reports to ascension to the Court of Appeal, to being Chairman of the Council of Legal Education, you've always been an inspiration. One thing I've also taken from you is the notion of attaining a degree of success that means one can always hold his head high amongst peers and associates.

Grandpa, you are the best. They say we should aim to be greater than our ancestors, if I can attain half your accomplishments I would return to my maker a fulfilled man. I thank the good Lord for granting you long life. And I pray that you shall see us make a success of ourselves. Happy Birthday.


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