With the status and influence he wields in the society, only cynics would attempt to underrate the personality of upwardly mobile and cerebral lawyer, Kayode Ajulo. His towering image readily dwarfs any untoward mischief anyone might want to play with it. The wide acceptance the amiable dandy dude enjoys did not fall on his laps, but a result of certain qualities he’s held unto that includes hardword work, consistency, honesty and humility abundantly laced with the grace of God.
This former Board Chairman of Ondo State Radio vision Corporation, OSRC, boasts of a profile that is no doubt intimidating. As a lawyer, his exploits cannot be waved aside as he’s known to have handled briefs that attest to his height and validate his professionalism. It is in the same way, he has made innovations that are embraced by the law profession aside being a voice for the voiceless in the society as a rights activist. As a politician, he was once the National Secretary of the Labour Party.
Ajulo aptly describes what the holy book instructs: Teach a child the way he would walk, when he grows old, he won’t depart from it. This activist has tenaciously held unto all he was filled with as a child which includes his ability to remain undistracted from any cause he focuses on. By seeing the likes of the late legal icon, Justice Kayode Esho and others, patronise his father’s book store as a child, he made up his mind he was going to be a lawyer, a dream he’s successfully living. Ajulo shares his life and times with
My Years in Ibadan Most Memorable
My formative years- childhood and teenage years- were in Ibadan, Ilesha and Ile-Ife. Of the three, I must say my years in Ibadan which at the time was widely known as the largest city in Africa was most memorable. Ibadan was a huge and awe-inspiring city at the time and our neighbourhood in Oke-Bola was quite close to Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s house so I often caught glimpses of the sage in person. As Christians, we worshipped as a family at St. James’ Cathedral Anglican Church, Oke-Bola. I can remember how my friends and I often went on mango-plucking trips along the Iyaganku GRA, Ibadan. I also remember the joy with which we flew kites in the city and how we chased and danced after the local masquerades during their annual traditional festivals. We had the Oloolu, Alapansapa, Atipako and the Adeyi masquerades that often thrilled little children. My experiences in Ilesha and Ile-Ife are quite similar but of the three, I loved my years in Ibadan the most and I will always view Ibadan with nostalgia.
Growing Up Under a Salary Earning Father
Growing up under a salary earning father and an entrepreneur mother afforded me the opportunity to have a taste of both worlds and this impacted me greatly. The question of whether I grew up with a silver or wooden spoon is quite relative and subjective. While my parents were not wealthy, they never compromised when it came to parental care. They often ensured that they provided us with the variety of things that made up a beautiful childhood, to the best of their ability. I remember gifts of tricycles, Xmas toys, books and other interesting items that made us ever so joyful. They weren’t wealthy but as middle-class parents of that era, they gave me a beautiful childhood that built the foundation for the kind of man I have become today. They were quite caring and generous to neighbours, so generosity and compassion was ingrained into me from childhood. They were also very principled so it was inevitable that I would imbibe some of the principles they had exemplified as I grew up under their watchful eyes.
Growing Up in a Christian Home Shaped My Outlook
As far back as I remember, growing up in a Christian home shaped my outlook on life. My ideas of social justice, welfare and standing for truth stems from the values I imbibed from my parents and early associations with the right folks. The clientele in my father’s bookshop comprised the intellectual class in Ibadan. I had the opportunity to meet the likes of Wole Soyinka, Ade Ajayi, Bola Ige, Victor Olunloyo, Afe Babalola and Kayode Eso who today are our national icons.
My Father Loved Books
My father, as I mentioned earlier, was a salary earner who also was a popular bookseller. He loved books very much and I think this was what informed his passion for selling books. He was a strict man with the ‘Ranti Omo Eniti Iwo Nse’ mantra, and was uncompromisingly-honest in his dealings. My mother was an entrepreneur who loved the business of trading. She engaged in selling fabrics like damask, guinea and lace then turned to dealing in books and stationeries and was quite successful in her business.
However, she was blessed with this merciful and compassionate disposition that often saw her giving generously to the needy even to the point of depriving her own self. At the time, we had over 20 of her apprentices living with us under one roof! I used to get quite upset when she would give away joyfully and freely, food and other items that I felt should have been left at home for our use. She made it a point of duty to explain the importance of generosity and mercy to me in a manner in which I learnt to reason with her then as I grew, I began to emulate her generous spirit.
My Gift of a Bell and Bible
Like I said earlier, my siblings and I were blessed to have parents who doted on their children even though they could not really be described as wealthy. They made sure they showed us that they loved us through a variety of gifts. Of all the gifts I received as a child, I cherish the gift of a bell and a bible the most. I cannot recollect how I received the gift anymore but I remember that I was around six years old at the time. I was so impressed by the gift that I marked out a corner in the house as my personal altar where I often retreated to pray, ring the bell and read the Bible. To me, ringing the bell in prayer was a very spiritual act that never failed to activate answers to my prayers and I received many answers to my prayers during this period of my life. It got to a point that visitors to our house often asked me to pray for them and many times returned to testify that they received answers to their prayers from God. Till date, I made it a point of duty to pray with a bell!
I Married Early
I tied the nuptial knot in my late twenties as I had always planned to. It had been my intention to get married as early as possible.
How I Overcame Stuttering
I used to be a chronic stutterer. I would often stammer and stutter so hard that sometimes I would burst into tears out of frustration. It was a source of low self-esteem that threatened to keep me down but through with the unfailing love of my mother and her prayers, I overcame the challenge and it is amazing how my career is immersed in public speaking today. I work as a lawyer, speaker, lecturer and counsellor and often find myself in situations where I am called upon to make speeches or to deliver lectures and get paid handsomely both in Nigeria and abroad.
Without the support of my mother, this would never have been possible. I think that was the most difficult challenge that ever confronted me and I overcame it with a loving mother’s support and prayers.
I Believe in the Power of Experience
I do not believe in mistakes, really; I believe in the power of experience instead. My philosophy is: human beings are decision-making organisms and these decisions we make have consequences from which we build a learning point and acquire wisdom. Our decisions lead us to take certain steps. However, some of these steps taken may end up unsuccessful as we find out that we are unable to attain our projected end. This is life and we learn from it. Having given that context, I must say that the biggest learning point for me was dabbling into politics and winning elections as a secretary of a Worker’s union branch as a teenager. From here, I proceeded into University where I continued to have active interest and participation in students’ politics. All of these led to a decision to relax from active legal practice and seek to be a Senator in 2011, which led me to become a National Secretary of Labour Party.
With hindsight, I must say this decision was costly for me as I was constrained to briefly abandon an initial ambition to attain the status of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) before I clock 35, to committing my energy to full-time partisan politics at the time.
I have learnt a lot from the experiences that my decision at that time led to. Going forward, I am still very interested like every social animal in political leadership. However, my priority now is legal practice. Although friends and associates continue to mount pressure on me to pursue political office, I am committed to fulfilling certain milestones on my checklist before I turn again to seek any elective office, if ever again.
My Biggest Fear in Life
My biggest fear is being recorded as a failure in history. Now you must understand that I hold that there is a stark difference between being an actual failure and being recorded as a failure. The same applies for success, to me. Looking back in history, we see that a historical personality like Julius Caesar is recorded by some historians as a failure despite his huge accomplishments in the world leadership, strategy and politics. Other personalities like Hannibal, Henry III, Suleiman, Napoleon, Hitler, Afonja, Efusetan, Akintola etc are also unfairly treated by history as their flaws and faux pas are made to tower above their feats. I consider this quite unfair and therefore I’m constantly concerned about how history will record me. From childhood, I have always loved to read about historical personalities and wonder if this is how they would have told their own stories had they taken it upon themselves to document it. Although it is not a common practice here in Nigeria, the stories of the past are meant to be preserved accurately for coming generations. What I am saying here is that the stories being told about humanity’s heroes and villains are often flawed hence my desire to tell my story as much as possible with my deeds while I am still on this side of mortality. There is a chance for every man to immortalise himself by accomplishments and ensuring that such accomplishments are accurately recorded in history and I intend to fully harness and make use of this chance. Our mortality is indisputable, yes, but what is uncertain is what will be said and written about us after we have passed from this realm.
Why I Chose Law
While I will say that your characterisation of me as a brilliant lawyer is subjective, I pray this won’t lead me to wittingly and unwittingly violate our professional rules and ethics. Now, my turning out to be a lawyer seems to have been a matter of course. Growing up in an urban and intellectual city like Ibadan impacted me intellectually. I was fortunate to live among books and to come in contact with great minds like those mentioned above and many more I met in my father’s bookshop and I was often in awe of these men even though some of them were yet to become national icons at the time. It was so easy for me to become sold on the legal profession. So, it was no surprise to my parents when I declared that I wanted to become a lawyer. Looking back, I would say that if I had not turned out as a lawyer, I would have become a priest and prophet given the manner with which I embraced the sacred things of God as a youth. I think the law profession and the commitment to justice also came across to me as a sacred trust, hence my decision. I loved the robes of the priests, the judges and the regalia of these professions often came across to me as sacred, hence my love for these two professions.