By Kayode Adeoti
The rise to stardom of a man who is born great, who achieve it or who have greatness thrust upon him as Williams Shakespeare posited, will always be accompanied by the good, the bad and the ugly. This seems to reflect the rise of the Kwara State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice; Barrister Kamaldeen Adeyemi Ajibade to the highest pinnacle of his career; Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). His rise was not by sudden flight, but laced with dint of hard work, temerity and tenacity. Despite failure to attain the exalted status in the noble profession with three attempts, he remained undeterred as he relentlessly continued to build on what he has been doing. And, like the saying, no pain, no gain; Ajibade’s struggle was rewarded at his fourth attempt.
This was also the consensual testimony of his colleagues in the noble profession, who asserted that he earned the elevation. Some of them who spoke to Pilot Law over his latest achievement in his career, said it was devoid of politics as he made sacrifices and paid the price.
The Kwara State Solicitor-General/Permanent Secretary, Barrister Funsho Dada Lawal, described Ajibade’s elevation as deserving, saying that hard work and good interpersonal relationship also helped his cause.
“His conduct and relationship with members of the bar and bench has fetched him so much opportunities. When his name was announced, I was very happy for him but I knew all along that he will make it, his conduct has justified it.”
According to her, the Attorney-General is a workaholic, he is also a mentor to many in the legal field.
“When I was the Director, Civil Litigation during his first tenure as Attorney-General of the State, I learnt a lot under him. “I can say he’s a workaholic; we both leave office sometimes 8pm even against the caution of the Secretary to State Government, Alhaji Isiaka Gold that he should desist from working till late hours. Whenever there’s power failure, he would put on the generating set. I have learnt to work and work under him till my body complains,” she added.
On his part, Barrister Abdullazeez Ayodeji Ibrahim, said his competence and professional skill were the qualities that stood him out and earned him the much deserved status.
The legal practitioner said given the Attorney-General’s sterling administrative skills, he could run affairs of the nation effectively.
“If I have the means, I will support him to contest for the presidency. In offices he held in the past, he had shown so much competence, so he will be useful to Nigeria. He will perform creditably well.
Similarly, Barrister Abdulwahab Bamidele asserted that the elevation of Ajibade to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria is not political.
“The rank of the SAN is only awarded to serving legal practitioner because it is tied to certain conditions. Only those that are able to meet these stringent conditions are considered. Part of the processes of awarding the rank is that members of the public are allowed to submit petitions in respect of any of the names shortlisted for the elevation, so Nigeria Judicial Council will listen to the petitions, but if it is political, politicians for what they are will send petitions.
For Muhammed Atolagbe Sulyman, the Senior Special Assistant on Political Matters to Governor Abdulfattah Ahmed, the elevation is long overdue.
“AK, as he is fondly called, is very hard working and intelligent, if anyone will be accused of manipulation, it can’t be my friend. He worked to earn his elevation.
Reacting to his victory, the Attorney-General said he feels a sense of fulfilment in his chosen career.
“It has always been God’s grace, when I least expected, the appointment came. It is one thing to be shortlisted and another to be picked; the procedure for the elevation by Legal Practitioner Privilege Committee (LPPC) changes every year. I feel joyous and fulfilled. It is the dream of every professional, particularly those of us at the advocacy to get to the peak of the career in our legal profession which is an elevation to the rank of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
“What were obtainable when we applied last year were improved upon in 2017. In 2016, we were requested to have less of High Court cases, minimum of 8, in the Court of Appeal 6, Supreme was also 6 last year but in 2017, the number of High Court cases one must have was increased to 20. They were trying to send lawyers back to the High Court; they believe they run to Appeal, jumping guns. I ensured I abided by these rules,” he explained.
Ajibade however frowned at the allegation that his kind gesture is premised on the fact that he is seeking political support from members of his constituency for his future ambition. “People know as a philanthropist, helping majorly the people from the community I come from, Alanamu in Ilorin West Local Government. I’m approachable; when you come to me, I will attend to you no matter how tight my schedule is. I don’t want to mention names of people I have helped but I believe I’m doing my part; I’m determined to better the lives of my people. I am not exhibiting it as politicians would do, because that is expected of them. In fact, people accuse me of not doing the right thing but I’m a professional in politics not a professional politician,” he stressed.
Ajibade was born into the family of Mallam Isaa and Hajia Habibat Ajibade of blessed memory in Alanamu, Ilorin West Local Government Area of Kwara State. He started his education in New Bussa, Kanji, Niger State, formerly in Kwara State. In 1983, he proceeded to Kwara State College of Technology where he had his Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC) and later to Ahmadu Bello University for his LL.B and was called to the Nigeria Bar in 1989. He began law practice in Kano, Kano State under the auspice of KT Turaki (SAN) where he rose to become Head of Chambers.
He set up his own law firm, A.K. Ajibade & Associates in 1989 and 10 years later extended to Lagos in 1999. Ajibade was fully into private practice till 2007, when he was given a political appointment by the Kwara State government as senior assistant on Legal Matters during the administration of former governor Bukola Saraki.
He was also appointed Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of the state in 2011, though the appointment was terminated after three months, following the expiration of his boss’ tenure in May. He was re-appointed in that same capacity when the administration of Governor Abdulfattah Ahmed came on board.
Apart from holding political offices, Ajibade had worked in many other capacities to ensure the development of the state. While he was SA on Legal Matters, he was directed in 2009 to go and revamp the Kwara State Investment and Property Development Company which he did till 2010.
Also, during Saraki’s administration, he was moved to Bureau of Land to help shore up the state revenue.