Today, we bid the final farewell to Julius Anu-Oluwapo Odupitan.
His classmates at LASU fondly called him ‘Baba Ayu’, a corruption of the phrase: Baba and you!
To become a lawyer was his life ambition but fate had other plans for him. Against his wish and desire, his father who couldn’t afford the cost of a formal education, sent him to his uncle who was a motor mechanic, to be his apprentice.
Naturally, Baba Ayu was devastated.
Through dint of hard work and rugged determination, Odupitan found his way to Lagos, became a stenographer, working in the public and private sectors.
The dream of wearing a wig and gown remained.
In 1962, Baba Ayu went to Britain and took up employment with the British Board of Trade and the National Health Insurance Scheme.
To prepare himself for legal education, he attended the Balham and Toothing College, London to become a chartered secretary.
He then tried to gain admission into one of the four Inns of the Court of London, to fulfill his ambition of becoming a lawyer.
When that failed in the late 60s, Baba Ayu returned home to take employment with the Lagos State Civil Service, where he rose to the rank of a Principal Auditor in 1991.
Then aged 59, he had to retire from service.
Yet, the man was unfulfilled; he hadn’t realised his ambition of becoming a legal practitioner.
Baba Ayu remembered the maxim: when there is a will, there is a way. He sat for the GCE O/Level and paased the mandatory five credits.
He was admitted for the Diploma-in-Law programme of LASU in the late 90s. The journey to becoming a lawyer had begun!
After he successfully completed the Diploma programme, he was enrolled in the 1999/2000 session for the Bachelor of Law , LL.B.
No thanks to the usual ASUU strike, Baba Ayu, finally graduated in the 2006/2007 session.
His joy was full, when on the 18th of November 2008, he was called to the Nigerian Bar and thus enrolled as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
In the Faculty of Law in LASU, where Baba Ayu’s path and mine crossed, he stood out for his natty dressing.
He was always impeccably turned out like a practising lawyer.
A tradition he continued at the Lagos campus of the Nigerian Law School.
He always came to my room to ask after my welfare.
All my roommates knew him because, he would be in my room as early as 6:30 a.m. ready for lectures.
His love and dedication to law was total.
Apart from being in legal practice, Baba Ayu, was diligent enough to be appointed a Notary Public by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, seven years after he was called to Bar.
After we had written our final Bar exam, Baba Ayu turned to me: “Ogun, now I can die.”
God didn’t answer that prayer. Indeed, though called to the Bar at 76, God gave him the grace to practise his beloved profession for another 13 years before he called him home.
He was wont to say: “If I die without becoming a lawyer, God will send me back to earth because I have not completed my mission.”
As we sang in church this morning at his funeral, we were sure that the good Lord would receive his soul!
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