Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday admitted making mistakes as Military Head of State and civilian president, but he took responsibility for all his mistakes. He however declared that the mistakes he made were “successful” mistakes.
Speaking during the 50th anniversary lecture in Ibadan, Oyo State, in commemoration of the call to the Bar of Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), Obasanjo, who had been criticised by many and recently accused by a civil war veteran and former Chief of Staff of the 3rd Marine Commando Division, Nigeria Army, Gen. Alabi Isama (retd), of committing numerous blunders during his reign in government, spoke proudly of his mistakes.
Obasanjo said, “One mistake I made that turned out to be successful was when I was looking for somebody to give leadership of the University of Lagos to and I chose Babalola. Some people said I made a mistake but it turned out to be a successful mistake.
“My mistakes as people say were mostly in appointments. I appointed the UNILAG Pro-Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor and the university became the best. The Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor that I appointed were acknowledged as the best at the time.
“The mother of all the mistakes was that the exposure and involvement of Babalola in the affairs of UNILAG led to the establishment of the Afe Babalola University in Ado-Ekiti.
“If you have not seen ‘instant wonder’, go to ABUAD. Babalola used his experience as the Pro-Chancellor of UNILAG to build what today is the best and fast growing private university in the country.”
Obasanjo spoke highly of the revered lawyer as he inaugurated the extension of Babalola’s Emmanuel Chambers on the occasion.
“There are many Nigerians,” he said, “but, there are not many good Nigerians of Babalola’s sterling qualities.”
President Goodluck Jonathan also spoke reverently of the senior advocate. Represented by Solicitor-General of the Federation, Ahmed Abdulahi, Jonathan described Babalola as a product of courage, perseverance, determination and humility.
The Guest Speaker at the occasion, retired Justice Emmanuel Ayoola, while delivering a lecture entitled, ‘The future of Law in Nigeria’, stressed the need to improve legal education in the country.
He said, “Our legal education should be re-invigorated and made more robust. For instance, we should begin to encourage inclusion of Comparative Law in every aspect of our legal education.
“We can only neglect the history of the principles of the common law at a disadvantage. Our law faculties should be fully equipped with the access to jurisprudence and decisions of other jurisdiction to protect our laws.
“We delude ourselves in this country if we believe that, we can be a great nation without a great legal system. The path to the greatness of our nation is through a reliable, efficient, trustworthy and value-driven legal system.”
Former Pro-Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Chief Wole Olanipekun, (SAN) described Babalola as a reformer, revolutionary and educationist who contributed to national and legal development.
Dignitaries present at the occasion include Governors Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo); Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti); Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo) and a former Ekiti State Governor Segun Oni among others.