By Femi Odere
Chief Wole Olanipekun, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) is, by any measure, among the creamier of Nigeria’s cream of elites. Unlike many Nigerians whose prominence is anchored on nothing but sheer disposition for primitive acquisition—-which is made possible by their country’s growth-inhibiting rentier economy and fuelled by in-your-face-corruption—- Olanipekun can be said to have earned his stripes by the sweat of his brow both through his trade and intellectual prowess.
As a lawyer with a few decades of professional practise under the ubiquitous wig, Olanipekun occupies a comfortable, if not an envious place in one of the most prominent ‘avenues’ in the Third Estate of the Realm. Although, he may not have had any compelling or earth-shaking literary works beneath his gown, or some profoundly ingenuous thoughts that had created some tectonic shifts in the country’s justice system, Olanipekun nonetheless has significantly enhanced the health and wellbeing of the legal profession of the society in which he operates. This aside, what can be called his Personal Social Responsibility (PSR) and his expected Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) have also lifted up, and continues to give hope to quite a number of otherwise hopeless people. He has enhanced his environment, most especially his hometown of Ikere-Ekiti and its people.
The fact that Olanipekun is also intellectually endowed has created such irresistible driving force that he has opinions on matters of national importance, which he articulates swiftly without fear or favour. But his opinion on the Buhari administration is anything but good, no matter how the president is deemed to be trying so hard by the Nigerian populace.
In his warped moral and intellectual righteousness, Olanipekun has not seen anything good in Buhari’s determination to fight corruption to a standstill, if not eliminate it all together as we shall see presently. Perhaps, it was on account of his glittering profile as a legal luminary, an intellectual and an important indigene of Ekiti State rolled into one that Olanipekun was invited to this year’s 18th convocation of the Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, on Thursday, April 30, 2017 as the institution’s convocation lecturer. There’s hardly any doubt that Olanipekun proved his intellectual mettle with the way he did justice to his lecture entitled “Breaking the Jinx – The Cyclical Nature of Nigeria’s Problems” which he chose because of what he referred to as “the latitude and liberty” that the university gave him to pick the topic of his choice.
But Olanipekun, probably because of a trade so dear to his heart that he has also made a name for himself, wasted no time in reminding his listeners in his convoluted thinking by indirectly insinuating that the Buhari government probably constitutes the greatest threat to the independence and integrity of the judiciary, talk not of the rule of law. But what befuddle rationally thinking mind is the gaping hole that Olanipekun always leaves in his crusade for the integrity of the judiciary on the one hand, and his actions and/or inactions when corruption rears its ugly head that the blind could see on the other. Yet, he wants us to see his passion for standing up for judicial integrity when, in actuality, his colleagues at the bar and the bench contributed more to the decimation and desecration of the very institution he lampoons President Buhari about. Nigerians would recall how Olanipekun went with other lawyers with Dr. Bukola Saraki, the Senate President to the court in a show of solidarity when the latter was already under indictment. As much as he rails against President Buhari at every opportunities, Olanipekun is yet to see the culpability of the judiciary in reducing its own integrity and violating its own rule of law even with incontrovertible body of evidence such as lawyers preventing legal arrests of their clients, age falsifications, document forgeries and acceptance of bribes by judges and justices up to the Supreme Court.
This is his moral paradox. His deafening silence when some powerful people deliberately trampled on the judiciary with reckless impunity just because they could get away with it while he cries blue murder (when it comes to the Buhari administration) on judicial issues and the rule of law calls into question the effectiveness of his own moral compass. Olanipekun could not find his voice when, as a governor-elect, Ayodele Fayose, who, incidentally, is now a visitor at Ekiti State University where he delivered his convocation lecture, led a group of thugs to the State High Court and forcefully dispersed the entire court with the judge, lawyers and court workers who escaped through the windows because of an election-related case he perceived might not favour him. Why Olanipekun did not see Fayose’s apparent criminal act as an unpardonable blight on the integrity of the judiciary that he should have vehemently condemned defies common sense. Olanipekun it was who turned a blind eye on Fayose’s haunting of APC lawmakers in the Ekiti House of Assembly such that the governor ran them out of town—-literally—-until the expiration of their tenure. Olanipekun didn’t see anything wrong when Fayose desecrated the legislature when he used seven members (out of 26) to impeach the then Speaker (Rt. Hon. Omirin) and passed the 2015 budget. The senior lawyer couldn’t see Fayose’s abuse and illegal and deplorable act when the governor took his miniature gavel to the House of Assembly and passed his own budget while the lawmakers only looked on with ignoble excitement. It will be interesting to hear Olanipekun’s views on “Ekitigate.”
One cannot but be aghast at such a display of questionable state of mind of the senior lawyer that seems to have impeded him from seeing the defect in his own moral compass to locate an unprecedented war on corruption that has revealed a level of corruption in the polity so egregious and beyond human comprehension; a virulent corruption strain also with strong roots in all branches of the country’s jurisprudence including the Supreme Court that Olanipekun himself cannot feign ignorance of. In what can be described as nothing but approbation on the corruption issue at the convocation lecture, this is Olanipekun in his own words: “It is incontrovertible that corruption is a hydra-headed monster that is capable of bringing any society to the precipice of perdition. Perhaps, apart from genocide, (a crime against humanity), there is nothing as lethal, pernicious and virulent as corruption in any society. Every country of the world denounces this brutal, monstrous and stupendous disease that destroys any system it enters. The whole world is alive with the onerous responsibility to stamp out corruption. Every country decries it and endeavours to run a corrupt free administration because it is a passport to good governance, accountability and responsiveness to the yearnings and aspirations of the people.”
Just when you thought that he may have finally come around to sharing what can be referred to as universal moral values on corruption that President Buhari made one of his three cardinal electoral promises with the aforementioned, the senior lawyer made a u-turn and posited that “the current administration rode to power on the wicket of a firm promise to tackle corruption headlong” but that “not much has been achieved as we approach the middle of the President’s term in office” because the administration “seem to be fixated on the naming and shaming of people who have already been identified by successive governments for one reason or the other….rather than confronting headlong and holistically the toxicity of corruption in the nation.”
It’s patently disingenuous of Olanipekun to have said that “not much has been achieved” by President Buhari in his war on corruption efforts with all the revelations of humongous monies hidden in the most unlikely places and recovered that not only Nigerians, but the whole world have been inundated with in the past two years despite the glaring evidence that the country’s legislature and the judiciary are uninterested in the president’s corruption war. His statement that the Buhari administration “seem to be fixated on the naming and shaming of people who have already been identified by successive governments” should be seen as insulting the collective intelligence of the Nigerian people. One wonders whether Col. Sambo Dasuki, Allison-Maduekwe, Andrew Yakubu, Gen. Amosu, Gen. Alex Badeh, Gabriel Suswan, Patience Jonathan, Perebowei Dudafa, Government “Tompolo” Ekpemupolo, to name just a handful, were already identified by successive governments.
One of the unintended consequences of the advent of the Buhari government in its unflinching commitment to do the right things at all times by the Nigerian people, which is quite unprecedented in the annals of governance in Nigeria, is the exposure of so many of their elites whom they had earlier held in high esteem. The uncompromising stance of this administration to stand down corruption has forced them to show their true colours. Nigerians can now take solace in the fact that they now know they had all along been operating on fake integrity and defective moral values. Thanks to Buhari, they’ve now been unhorsed from that pedestal of respectable men of integrity and character and placed in that basket of moral degenerates which they rightly belong. Olanipekun, one is hard pressed to say, may not be too far from this basket.
Femi Odere is a media practitioner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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