On Sunday the 6th of January 2008, the Golden Gate restaurant played host to about a hundred and twenty people at a luncheon organised in honour of Mr. Julius Oladele Adesina, a Deacon of the Living Faith Ministry a.k.a. Winners Chapel. On the 12th of December, 2007, Mr. J.O. Adesina better known as Dele Adesina along with 16 other legal practitioners was formally conferred with the prestigious award of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria in Abuja. This achievement makes the new silk one of the very few senior advocates to hail from Ekiti and his very home town - Ilawe, Ekiti.
Billed to start at 2.30p.m., the programme kicked off some fifty minutes later. In attendance were about nine judges from the Lagos State High Court: Justices Coker, Oyewole, Oyefeso, Okunnu, Ishola, Oluwayemi, Obadina, a former Chief Judge of Lagos State, Samuel Olatunde Ilori, a Justice of the Supreme Court, Akin Oguntade JSC.
In attendance were also the leadership of the three branches of the Nigerian Bar Association in Lagos State to wit: Mr. Erastus Bola Baderinwa (Lagos Branch), Mr. Niyi Idowu (Ikeja Branch) and Mr, Nurudeen Ogbara (Ikorodu Branch).
Present also was the leader of the Living Faith Ministry - Bishop David Oyedepo who is also the Chancellor of the Covenant University. The Bishop’s wife - Faith was also present. Many indigenes of Ekiti State and Ilawe town were also present.
The Chairman of the occasion was Prince Julius Adelusi Adeluyi, pharmacist, lawyer and polygot while the Master of Ceremony was Barrister Adesupo Ojo - the Chairman of the Campaign for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR).
The Chairman of the occasion gave a stirring address which was full of commendation for the celebrant of the day but he was surpassed by Bishop David Oyedepo who exhorted the new silk to manifest the greatness of his elevation in making himself more relevant to the progress of the society; even globally rather than seeking his own private enlargement and enjoyment.
The celebrant himself gave what was perhaps the most touching of all the speeches as he narrated the ups ands downs of his life, giving cogent examples of how people who could be described as strangers to him in the past, helped him up from a nobody to somebody.
His speech herein reproduced should serve as an excellent tonic to younger lawyers who are still struggling to make it in the legal profession not to lose hope and it can also serve as an encouragement for those who are already on the rise not to relent in their efforts. The SQUIB wishes Dele Adesina SAN, elbow grease!
SPEECH DELIVERED BY DEACON DELE ADESINA SAN ON THE OCCASION OF A LUNCHEON HELD AT THE GOLDEN GATE RESTAURANT ON THE 6TH OF JANUARY 2008 ON HIS CONFERMENT WITH THE RANK OF SENIOR ADVOCATE OF NIGERIA (SAN).
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a very great honour that you all both individually and collectively have done to me; my family and my Chambers by your honoured presence here this great afternoon, at this reception in my honour for my conferment with the prestigious rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria. Let me admit straightaway that words are inadequate to express my happiness for this great honour. It is my prayer that my God will honour you all.
Let me assure you that, I am very conscious of the enormous responsibility that this recognition has imposed not only on me but also on all the 17 of us that were conferred with this great honour on the 30th day of October, 2007 by the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) of our great and beloved Profession. This responsibility includes but not limited to an automatic assumption of leadership in the Profession. Leadership to show good example. Leadership in the defence and protection of the independence and integrity of the Judiciary. Leadership in the promotion of the welfare of both the Lawyers particularly the junior members and the Judges, knowing fully well that the greatness of any journey is a function of the quality of responsibility that a man engages, because responsibility they say is the price of greatness.
This enormous responsibility is of course in addition to our conventional role as Lawyers in a democratic society such as ours. It is to be recalled that the role of the lawyer in any democratic society is to consistently defend the truth and justice- It is to be a determined fighter for freedom.
It was Thomas Erskine who said that "it is the role of an advocate to break the rod of oppression and to ensure that the ordinary citizen is properly protected from power, its excesses, its misuse and its abuse". This is a role that is both professional and generational.
The world is looking for somebody who will do something not somebody who will explain why he did not do anything. I do not intend to fail the genuine expectations imposed on me by this elevation. As a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, I shall pursue justice, knowing fully well that justice does not flow from any system but from the individual.
According to all classical definitions, Justice should dwell in the hearts of men. Drawing grace therefore from those ahead of me, I shall not disappoint the purpose for my cherished elevation as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
In the book 'Purpose Driven Life", Rick Warren the Author, talking about sharing your life message had this to say "Shared stories build a relational bridge that Jesus can walk across from our hearts to others. Personal stories are easier to relate to principles as well as they are easier to remember for long". Peter the Apostle also said that "We are chosen by God to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night and day difference He made for us". In relating briefly how I got to this level, let me say that God is more than what people say. God is more than what people think and certainly God is much more than what people know of Him.
I was called to the Bar in July 1982. As a new wig, I was bubbling with life, full of high expectations, dreaming great dreams. After my NYSC, in an attempt to avoid roaming about in the wilderness of unemployment, having found nobody to link me up with a reputable Chambers for my pupilage in Lagos, despite my burning desire to work in Lagos, I joined the Ministry of Justice in Ondo State as a State Counsel in July 1983. Just a month after, precisely on the 16th of August 1983, there was a massive political violence that ravaged Akure the State Capital and some other major towns in the then Ondo State, following the gubernatorial elections of that month.
A friend of mine late Mr. Anthony Ayeni Akiika with whom I was squatting unknown to me was a strong supporter of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN)/ the party in whose favour the election acquired during my NYSC were burnt by the rioters, leaving me only to save my wig and gown and the clothes I had on me. The permission by the rioters for me to save my wig and gown was almost considered to have been abused by me when I pleaded with them to save my friend's properties. A plea they rejected without any consideration. This event was to have a lasting impression on me and there and then I decided I was going to leave Ondo state back to Lagos.
In January 1984, I took up employment with Hogg Robinson Nigeria as a Claims Officer. This prompted me to enrol for a professional examination in insurance on completion of which I was to acquire the Association of Chartered Insurance Institute (ACII) Certificate- By the end of 1985, even though I had passed 6 papers out of 9 to qualify, I no longer had satisfaction with my job. I had also began to lack total fulfilment. I began to think of going to where I thought I belong (private practice). Without having any particular law firm in mind, I resigned my appointment.
Even as far back as that time, I was conscious of the fact that my potential was limitless and cannot be measured by the opinions of others. I knew that I possess the ability to achieve, to develop, to accomplish, to produce, to create and perform anything my mind may conceive or imagine.
Scripturally, there is always a Jonathan and a Judas Iscariot to everyone. But I have been specially favoured by God Almighty. To every Judas Iscariot on my path. God has raised multiple Jonathans for me. So, God used one Dr. Ayo Olaiya, the Managing Director of Bellix International Nigeria Ltd and Mr Johnson Akinneye, the General Manager of my Company to introduce me to Late Chief Doja Adewopo of Doja Adewopo & Co, with whom I served pupilage for 6years, until 1992, when I founded Dele Adesina & Co. These were my 1st set of Jonathans. By the way, Chief Doja Adewopo was the personal Lawyer to Mr. Johnson Akinneye the Company's General Manager. I had such a wonderfully robust relationship with my principal to the extent that when he was on a terminal sick bed, about the year 2001, he actually handed his family over to me and I became, as it were, a father to the family.
Unlike some of us at the time, I served 6 years with my principal, partly because of lack of resources due to poverty, and partly for lack of confidence to stand alone-1 was neither confident enough to think that I might succeed nor secured enough to bear the sense of failure if I did not succeed in the course of my work.
Meanwhile, on the 31st of December, 1989, I joined the Living Faith Church then at Raji Oba, lyana Ipaja, Lagos State. In 1992, I was handling the case of ZANEN VESTORP VS. NEW TOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (NTDA) & 6 Ors at the High Court of Lagos State when God raised yet another Jonathan to attest to my competence. After a rigorous day in court one day, a gentleman by name Captain Adekunle Harrison Kuti, the Plaintiffs Managing Director, who was visibly impressed by my courtroom performance, asked me why I was not running my own chambers and I told him I had no money. He said "I can invest in you” and that led to the birth of Dele Adesina & Co at No.55 Allen Avenue Ikeja, Lagos in July 1992. Again God had raised another Jonathan.
The investment of Captain Kuti of 1992 confirmed the truism in the
statement of Nelson Mandela in his autobiography 'Long Walk To freedom' that "there is little favourable to be said about poverty, but it was an incubator of true friendship. Many people will appear to befriend you when you are wealthy, but precious few will do the same when you are poor. If wealth is a magnet, poverty is a kind of repellant". Captain Kuti, you are a true friend. And so, the glory and favour of God continued to find expression in my life at every stage and at every turn.
In 1993, I was handling the case of OLADIPO VS. ALHAJA MORIAMO, a land matter. It was a case that I likened to a fight between an Ant and an Elephant. The Plaintiff, Mr Oladipo, Lawyer and a retired Police Officer being the Elephant and Alhaja Moriamo, the Defendant and my Client, a poor single woman being the Ant. In the course of the proceedings, my Client's house was mysteriously set ablaze. I threw the totality of my person, and passion without any reservation into the prosecution of the lady's case. The arson became the tonic I needed for renewed passion and dedication to the case. One day after a hearing, one of the witnesses called on behalf of me defence, was so impressed and he said so. Perhaps, knowing that my Client had no money to pay and yet surprised with the degree of passion and commitment with which I fought the case, without any request or prompting, from me, the witness said “what can I do for you this young man?" ............ I shall give you a parcel of land" which he did. I later completed the construction of a beautiful edifice on that land in 1998.
My Lords, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, from that time on, I literally became unstoppable in my steady rise to the pinnacle of Glory that we are here celebrating today. In terms of participation in the affairs of the Nigerian Bar Association, I have had the Grace and the privilege of serving in various capacities including but not limited to the office of Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja Branch and the Secretary General of the Association at the National level- I have also had the privilege of serving in various capacities of responsibility in my local Church Living Faith Church, Faith Tabernacle also known as Winners Chapel Ota, Ogun State. It is the worth of a person that marks the quality delivery of his mission.
I believe I have a mission in this profession. Ability to lead is not innate, it is acquired and nurtured. Having regard to the quality of men and women who have ignited me spiritually and professionally and from whom I have drawn grace, I prayerfully believe that the vision I talked about shall continue to find expression particularly in our beloved and noble profession and also in the Nation in general.
Talking about Leadership in a paper entitled "Maintaining Christian Identity (integrity) in Secular Leadership delivered by me at a special Leadership Seminar organised by Harvest Feeds Ministry International on the 7th of April, 2007, I said “The world is looking for a new generation of leaders who will be driven by the superior motive to put public interest above self interest in other to render a selfless service to humanity. A superior motive of honour and integrity.
A new generation of leaders who will accept responsibility to rescue our Nation from being a failed state and a failed people. A new generation of leaders that will through their selfless sacrifice institutionalise dedication, commitment, accountability and transparency, not only in public life but also and more particularly in their private lives. A new generation of leaders that will be big enough to admit their mistake, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.
A new generation of leaders who will not only go beyond being a people pleaser to being a God pleaser, but who will also know that the need for God's affirmation supercedes the need for the peoples affirmation of their conduct and actions. A new generation of leaders who will know that leadership is not about wielding authority but about service to humanity and empowering the people".
Drawing inspiration from the Church, there was a time the phrase "As poor as a church rat' represented the identity and the description of the Church. I am sure that this was one of the things that led to the total lack of excellence, quality and breakthrough in the Church. Later there came the emergence of the Faith Church pioneered by the Smith Wigginsworths, Kenneth Haggins, Billy Grahams, Benson Idahosas, Enoch Adeboyes and David Oyedepos of this World. The emergence came with a fresh wind of awesome responsibilities, instilling a sense of destiny and purpose in the hearts of these pioneers.
It became imperative for this new generation of Christians to see the inner strength and the potential lying deep within them and with a renewed commitment with the Creator Jesus Christ, prepared themselves for the refinement of skills for the sole purpose of changing the face of Christianity. This visionary generation of leaders accepted responsibility to change the face of Christianity for which we all are now proud beneficiaries.
Every great institution is the lengthen shadow of a single man. His character determines the character of his organisation. Every organisation reflects its leader. There would have been no compassionate organisation called the Salvation Army if not for William Booth. There would have been no Methodist awakening, if not for John Wesley. It is my solemn pledge that in collaboration with other Leaders in the Inner Bar, together, we shall change the face of Legal Practice in Nigeria. In all of these I know and God knows too that oppositions are real but I also know that to overcome is much more real.
To the great and highly valued Clients of Dele Adesina & Co. both present and absent here this afternoon, past, present and even the future, this gathering is dedicated to you. Your support, your patronage and your believe in our divine ability/ professional capability and intellectual capacity to find solutions to your problems and answers to your questions have led us to this glorious accomplishment. We can only reciprocate by renewing our determination and commitment to the mission statement of our Law firm which is "to harness our potentials, to promote justice and the rule of law through a demonstrated degree of professionalism and integrity while protecting your rights". This mission shall be driven by passion, run with dedication and propelled by sacrifice under the Grace of God.
I thank you all for listening.
DELE ADESINA, SAN
Dele Adesina & Co.