Ekiti State Governor, Mr Biodun Oyebanji, on Monday described legal luminary, Aare Afe Babalola (SAN), as a special gift to Ekiti State, Nigeria and humanity.
Oyebanji joined other eminent Nigerians, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, and former Commonwealth Secretary, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Babalola’s call to bar.
He thanked the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD) Founder for providing platforms for many Nigerians who were once hopeless to realise their dreams.
Oyebanji reminisced on Afe Babalola’s prominent roles in the struggle for, and eventual creation of Ekiti State.
He said the actualisation of the creation of the state was what provided an opportunity for him and all his predecessors to become governors there at different time.
Oyebanji also regaled the audience with the story of how he utilised Babalola’s facilities at his Emmanuel Chamber, in Ibadan, for his master’s degree programme at the University of Ibadan in the early nineties.
The governor said that he was always getting his papers typed and photocopied at the chambers through a friend who was a lawyer there at that time.
He said that he had asked what would be Babalola’s reaction if he got to know an outsider was using his facilities.
According to him, his friend replied him that he (Babalola) would be happy to hear that his resources were being used to assist someone in need of it.
He also narrated how he was happy carrying Afe Babalola’s books during the presentation on Ekiti State creation at the panel set up by the then military government.
Oyebanji said that the legal luminary demonstrated humility and brilliance during the presentation and the meetings that preceded the main presentation.
He described Afe Babalola as his father, adding that the legal luminary remained a rare gem and gift to Ekiti, Nigeria and mankind.
“Thank you so much for providing platform for those that are hopeless to have hope, thank you daddy because I can stand here today as governor of Ekiti State because of people like you.
“When I picked up a lecturing job at University of Ado Ekiti and then started the struggle for the creation of State, I joined the committee as a member and I later became the secretary of the committee.
“I was the youngest and I was shocked at Daddy’s level of humility and commitment to that cause.
” One picture that always runs through my mind is the day we were going for a panel at Akure to defend our request for the creation of Ekiti State.
”A night before the presentation, daddy drove in from Ibadan, we were at Ewi’s palace and daddy insisted that we do a mock presentation and took comment from everybody.
“When we got to Akure the following day, daddy’s performance was unforgettable and that singular act of patriotism and commitment to your people gave us Ekiti State,” he said.
Earlier in his remark, former President Obasanjo congratulated the celebrant on the occasion of his 60th anniversary at the bar.
He described the legal icon as a titan at the bar, astute litigator and bar leader both nationaly and internationally.