Should CLE recognise NOUN’s law degree?

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•Continued from last week

He was appointed Justice of Court of Appeal of Gambia and later Chief Justice of Gambia. On leaving Gambia, he was, the same year, made Justice of Seychelles Court of Appeal. He was later elevated the President of the Court. While on foreign service, Justice Ayoola performed as Justice of Nigerian Court of Appeal.

He was later promoted to the Supreme Court of Justice. He was given other prominent assignments. Abiodun Fanore and Joseph Onyekwere The Guardian Tuesday September 6, 2011. What of the prominent lawyers who made great leaps to stardom by Correspondence Course?

Correspondence Course: Due honour must be accorded Chief Aare Afe Babalola (SAN) , referred to as “the Grand Commander of the Legal Profession”. He was debarred from attending secondary school because of fund. As epitome of brilliance, he wrote and passed the then Lokoja-Ondo Diocesan examination for secondary education. He was overall second best pupil. By his excellent performance, he was offered admission to commence studies from form 3 at Christ School, Ado-Ekiti. But he could not make it because of wherewithal. But he made up his mind to succeed in life through education. He therefore enrolled for correspondence studies. He was successful. He obtained Cambridge School Certificate, G.C.E. Ordinary and Advanced Level Certificates of London University, B. Sc Economics of London University and L.L.B. Law with Honours of London University, all by Correspondence or Private Study.

He was called to the Bar in England in 1963 as member of the Lincoln Inn, London, and became a registered member of the Bar of England and Wales. He is considered the most outstanding member of the Nigerian Bar Association, Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He holds the honour of Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Commander of the Order of the Niger. He is a Fellow of many instituions; former Pro-Chancellor of University of Lagos. His distinguished achievements in that institution are yet to be rivaled. He was awarded the Best Pro-Chancellor in Nigeria. He has to his credit many works, articles and lectures. He was awarded “Queen Victoria Commemorative Medal” in Oxford, United Kingdon. He was declared “the African Man of the Year” by All African Students Union. His achievements are too numerous to list, a legal luminary of outstanding brilliance. (The Guardian, Tuesday January 24, 2012 p.84).

We shall not fail to list the late distinguished Justice Chukwudifu Oputa (JSC) , who at the Apex Court was addressed by his colleagues as Socrates and Lord Denning of Nigeria, because of his erudition. He was a man of impeccable character and ingenuity. By Correspondence and Home Study, he worked hard to obtain his B.A. Degree in History from University of London and worked as Assistant District Officer before proceeding to study Law. His first Degree was B.Sc. Degree in Economics from the famous Achimota College in the then Gold Coast, now Ghana. He later studied Law, and was called to Bar and became the first Chief Judge of Imo State. This late icon later became Supreme Court Justice. He was chairman of the Human Rights Violation Investigation Committee, known as Oputa Panel.

Let us imagine that the English Bar at Lincolns Inn refused to admit the above Nigerians who studied by Part-Time, as External Candidates or by Correspondence Course, and the then Nigerian Law School refused to admit them for Vocational Training, because of their mode of studying, and no other Law School in the world did; the landmark, distinguished contributions these men have made to the nation could have been extinguished for ever.

It may not be foolhardy to speculate that there are many Nwabuezes, Ayoolas, Kutis, Odesanyas, Eliases, Cokers, Okafors, Babalolas, Oputas etc who are presently law students of NOUN or who have graduated from NOUN, currently stretching out their hands from the pit of proscription, crying to be liberated from the clutches of relegation; pleading in tears to CLE and BB to admit them into Nigerian Law School to enable them apply their potential to model their Seniors or even excel them. The prayer of most African elders is that their children should be greater than they are.

However, some people may argue that the legal luminaries that stretch from the 1950s to late 1970s can not be compared with the present generation in terms of having basic educational foundation, commitment and dedication to private reading, self control, high aspiration etc. Hence, they may not feel concerned about NOUN law students. Well, this may be a case of hasty generalisation, an imaginative fantasy. It is not unusual for an old generation to underrate the preceding generation. But the pricking question is whether the previous generation provides the new generation some of the opportunities they were provided. For instance, do the current elders who presently occupy position of power and authority in education and beyond accord the respect, dignity, welfare benefits they received during their own time to the preceding generation?

This nation accorded the current top policy makers in government – Governors, some former presidents, and their Vice, Pro-Chancellors, Vice Chancellors of Universities, Rectors of Polytechnics, Provosts of Colleges of Education, the Military brass of overseas trainees, so much lavish welfare benefits, luxurious accommodation, scholarships, bursaries, loans, free tuitions etc while they were studying. Most of them interested in public jobs got them while they were rounding off their studies in the tertiary institutions.

To be continued next week

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