Michael Abiodun is a visually impaired author, an attorney and a federal prosecutor, demonstrating both prosecutorial and academic excellence in international law and counterterrorism matters.
An author of 21 books, he has a Master’s Degree in International Commercial Law obtained from the University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom. He has equally undertaken PhD studies in Human Rights, Security, and UK Antiterrorism laws from the same institution.
His recent book, The Plight of The Black Man, traces the origins of the black man and the possible liberation of the black man by the black man.
In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES, he speaks about his career, personal life and how he managed to write 21 books in a short time.
PT: Why did you return to Nigeria after your PhD?
Michael: Before I left Aberdeen in 2013, one of my friends and schoolmate at the University of Lagos never wanted me to come back to Nigeria. Another fellow lawyer asked, “why are you leaving the UK to a land that eats up its inhabitants.”
They weren’t wrong about my decision because I had lived in the UK for eight years and obtained a master’s in international commercial law and a PhD. However, after spending that much time there, I wanted to return.
Surprisingly, everything was the same when I returned to Nigeria. However, it was still a tough place and a rough ride for the physically challenged.
Personally, the worst kind of disability is visual impairment. Don’t get me wrong, being physically challenged in general is difficult, but things are more difficult for visually impaired people. So, coming back into the country and noticing that there weren’t effective measures to make things point makes things more challenging.
PT: Were you born blind?
Michael: I was not born blind. I lost my sight at about age six when the son of my father’s next-door neighbour threw a stone into my eyes.
When this happened, my parents, to the best of their knowledge, used herbs for both the affected and unaffected eyes, and then inflammation happened.
PT: Are there memories of your sight?
Michael: Yeah. An example would be if you were to tell me someone is putting on a blue top, I have a mental picture of what it should look like.
I also remember my mother being pregnant with her last child. I recollect that her stomach was fair in complexion.
In addition to colours, I can describe what an old television looks like.
PT: How did it change your family dynamics?
Michael: I would be lying if I said the situation had no impact on my family, especially finances.
PT: What happened to the boy that caused your blindness?
Michael: My father didn’t take it lightly, considering I’m dear to his heart.
I come from a family of 12, and I am the tenth child. My father gave birth to me when he was about 75-years old. So it shattered him when his dearest child lost his physical vision, causing him to be unhappy about it till his death.
PT: Tell us about your mum’s reaction?
Michael: The incident also affected her and happened when she was 69. Having given birth to me at 63 years old, it was hard to deal with my vision being gone.
PT: How many siblings do you have?
Michael: My Dad had three wives and 12 children. I am the first son of my mum, and there are two boys after me. My mum is the third wife, and I have two surviving brothers.
PT: Where are they?
Michael: Somewhere in Ogun State. However, two of my senior sisters are late; the last one died in 2019 at 54.
PT: Are you in touch?
Michael: No comment
PT: Obviously, they had to move you out of a regular school?
Michael: Yes. Someone helped us discover a blind school in Lagos called Pacellii school, located somewhere in Surulere. I enrolled there on October 2, 1984, for my primary education. I left Pacelli on Friday, 24 November 1990, as the best graduating student of the school.
I moved to Federal Government College Lekki, graduating as the best art student. After gaining a law degree at the University of Lagos to read Law in 2002, I proceeded to the Nigerian law school in 2003. I finished as the special academic prize winner 2003/2004 Nigerian Law School. Before law school, I worked briefly with an NGO, ‘Human Development Initiative’. Afterwards, I proceeded to the NYSC and finished the NYSC in 2005. While the NYSC was on, I was busy seeking admission into higher studies.
I remember my boss, the legal lead then was very keen on giving me a job, but I wasn’t interested, I wanted to pursue higher education and one day wanted to become a lecturer. Fortunately, admission came through to the University of Aberdeen.
PT: How did you finance your studies abroad? Was it a scholarship?
Michael: Yes, it was a full scholarship. Great thanks to Mr Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former governor of Ogun State, whom I told I wanted to be an icon in the teaching profession, and he offered his assistance.
Even when I ran short of money, he came through again. The man was a charming and generous person.
PT: How did you get in touch with him? Was it through his aide?
Michael: Yeah, I contacted the ex-governor through my boss in the legal department where I served. His older brother was Gbenga Daniels’ special adviser on media. So, he connected me to Gbenga Daniel, and the day Gbenga Daniel met me, he approved.
PT: How did you cope with studying abroad?
Michael: I was like a fish in the pool who eventually got a hand and was thrown into the sea. It was absolutely a new experience because it was an advanced world. Braille was made by machines, not by my efforts in punching, and then my notes were ready in minutes.
I also didn’t have to use typewriters to type answer scripts, and I had the computer’s soft touch. I trained myself in the use of computers. It was a different world; food was easily accessible. May I say that white people are more compassionate than blacks? I had support everywhere I turned. All assistance was given to me by the university. There was a time a scholarship from the university was during my PhD. I got that scholarship from different sides.
The last scholarship I got for my PhD was from Lagos State, under the extreme kindness of His Excellency, Babatunde Fashola SAN. He never met me, my letter only reached him, and he approved immediately. He never met me to date, but he has been of great assistance.
So, he approved the scholarship, but it was on a bond agreement that I would return to serve Lagos in whatever capacity to complete my PhD programs. So having returned, I informed them I was back, and I served in the Ministry of Justice for a year; after that, I was given a permanent job, but it was not easy for eight years in England and now in Lagos. I know I had divine instructions to go to Abuja, so I applied for the civil service in March 2013, and the same day I applied the same day I was given a job. So, I am not the special one, but I am a fortunate one.
I wanted to lecture, but offers weren’t forthcoming, so what I did to keep my dreams alive I started writing. I have written over 21 books. The 20th one I forwarded is “but no one understood it”, but there is another titled “another mystery of life”.
PT: What are your books predominately about?
Michael: I am an all-rounder. I have written more on international law and a book titled “answering the questions and contentions in international law.” I have another one, ‘security writing the wake of terrorism, and ‘the resonance of international law’, but I also write novels. I have one titled “no one saw it coming, a nation without tomorrow.” It’s about Nigeria and Africa.
PT: Typically, how long does a book take to be ready?
Michael: Well, the longest it has taken me to write a book is five years. It is titled the ‘millionaire mindset.”
PT: Are your books sold in Nigeria?
Michael: Yes, but they are on three international platforms, Amazon, Kubo, and Payhip. I just started marketing them on Facebook. So let’s hope they do well.
PT: It takes a lot to write a book. How do you market 21 books at a time?
Michael: I had not opened my books to the Nigerian market because of the fear of piracy, and the reading culture in Nigeria is not at its best, but people are reading. In the next two weeks, I intend to go into an arrangement with cassava republic and Karamu’s price; I would be happy to know more publishing outlets with more marketing spectrum. For example, Gershon and Limited publish my books. I publish as often as money comes into my pocket. II have published six books; the remaining are still in the manuscript stage.
PT: I recall you speaking about your wife before our interview. How did you meet her?
Michael: It started when I returned to Nigeria on Friday, 1 November 2013. Within three weeks, I met my backbone, and we connected, and then I came to Nigeria on a visit, so we kept talking. So, we had our courtship over the phone.
We drew closer when I finally returned to Nigeria. Since we were deep into the relationship, we decided to make it official.
PT: Is she visually impaired?
Michael: No, she is physically complete and hails from Ilesha in Osun State. She is a graduate. We got married when I finished my PhD. I married her in November 2013, and we have a son.
PT: So, how has the journey been for you two?
Michael: Many physically challenged persons may not like this comment I am about to make, but that’s the truth. It takes a lot of courage, grace, sacrifice, and forfeiture of good deeds of life to settle with a physically disabled person and talk less with a visually impaired.
PT: How do you balance your marriage with your being an author and your career?
Michael: I have a talking software. It speaks what I type. A computer is like a second wife for a married person, even inside the toilet. Ideas fly everywhere, and if you don’t catch them when it is raw, you may never get them fresh. Most of the time, the idea comes in when I am bathing.
PT: Do you receive complaints from your wife?
Michael: My wife complains that “you are not coming to play with us. You have been on your laptop for hours”, and sometimes I go to play with them, and then an idea comes into my head, and I go to my system.
PT: Would you be returning to Europe with your wife?
Michael: Yes, this would be her first time.
PT: What drives you?
Michael: Several things drive me, and that there is brevity to life, you can do yourself by doing what you can with the 24 hours you have in a day, so I want to live my recordable impact on humanity within the short time I have. What drives me again is people who believe in me.
PT: what happened to your dream of becoming a teacher?
Michael: Something happened last year, I felt I was not doing enough with my job as a legal practitioner, so I turned in my CV to the University of London. I decided to chase my dream always to be a teacher. The University accepted me, but they would want me to do another master’s in International Diplomacy, which will cost about 15 Million.
I was supposed to resume in September last year, but I couldn’t gather enough money, so I deferred, which they approved to September 2022, and I am still sourcing funds to fulfil my dreams to become a lecturer.
PT: What does your wife do?
Michael: She is into music. She plays the saxophones. She is also into IT and research.