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Olanipekun at 68: Life as a Lawyer and a philanthropist

THERE is much to admire in Wole Olanipekun. He is a fine gentleman, the sort that would captivate a room with his infectious smiles, graceful steps and charming persona.

We can certainly admire his demeanor and tenacity, which has allowed him to make a huge success of his core competence – the fine art of Law and Jurisprudence and philanthropy which has become to him a spoil sport.

It is no coincidence too that Wole Olanipekun has built a formidable network of friends and associates that has come to admire his diligence, hard work, intellect, humility, communal value, generosity and simplicity.

That is not all there is to him; he has the sheer capacity to translate abstract concepts into tangible actions. That, infact, is certainly why he remains one of the most sought after lawyers and administrator in the country. His unique qualities would be better appreciated by people who have watched him at close quarters through the years.

To say Wole Olanipekun is an icon is correct, but only a context can provide a precise measure of such status. The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka provides this context when he said of Olanipekun at an occasion where he chaired presentation of scholarship and grants to students of Tertiary and post tertiary institutions in the country.

“Egbon Wole is a gift to humanity. His profile goes beyond Ekiti State. Some of us who are his younger brothers call him Asiwaju of the Universe. He is one of the topmost five Lawyers in this country. When he took the silk, he was the youngest recipient then.

“He has achieved so much in the profession of Law and we are proud of his accomplishment. In the area of administration, you only need to come to University of Ibadan and mention the name Olanipekun.

“While as our Pro-Chancellor, his impact was felt and we are still basking in that euphoria. He made a unique sacrifice of not collecting allowances and even spent his own money to give us a big lecture theatre.” He said.

Olayinka is not alone in providing a precise measure of the iconic status of Olanipekun, he has an ally in the traditional ruler of Olanipekun’s cradle, Oba Adejimi Adu, the Ogoga of Ikere, who keep thanking God for directing Olanipekun’s ancestry to Ikere Ekiti.

Hear him: “Wole Olanipekun is a first class philanthropist, a legal juggernaut, community leader and a role model who has been giving to his community and the country tirelessly and without restrictions.

“He has invested in the youth which of course is a clear demonstration of his belief in their future. What he is doing today (granting of scholarship to indigent students) is a continuation of what he has been doing before.

“Aside scholarship, he may not know that I know how hardworking he is. I always feel very reluctant to call him, so I usually send messages to his phone.

“Even the last event we had for him here on a Saturday, I called him on Sunday to thank him for honouring us; I even thought  he would be resting after the long trip to Ikere and his contribution to the success of the event but alas, he was in the office already working on a Sunday.

“He is using his sweat to fund his scholarship projects. He has built a modern hospital for us here. He has built a vicarage for us here. We have a branch of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) here in Ikere. The Ajayi Crowther University has benefitted from his largesse. The University of Ibadan too.

“I am saying this for us to appreciate him. It is his sweat, not some free money from anywhere. I am glad that Nigerians value him and we are also glad that he is from Ikere Ekiti. He is a Prophet that is recognized in his home too” he said.

A man who perhaps is unaware of his own greatness and the priceless legacy that he is bestowing on the nation, Olanipekun noted recently that his belief that education and the right mindset are the solutions to the myriad of problems besetting the nation prompted him to offer scholarships and grants to students of tertiary and post tertiary institutions.

“I come from a humble background. What is so common in Western Nigeria is education. A lot of young people thirst for quality education but are limited by finance.

“When I was in Ilorin, most students from the then Ondo State would come to my office, and to the best of my ability, I usually give them money.

“As small as Ikere Ekiti is, we have 77 professors. How do we plan to have more professors and governors in the future? There is poverty in the land. Government cannot do it all. We must keep assisting the less privileged. It is not the wealth that we accumulate that is important but how we impact on mankind. Education is our heritage but it is fast evaporating. We must assist those we can assist,” he said.

At 68, Olanipekun continues to give us a window of opportunity in which to make an informed choice about the future of the nation. We must not waste time for his sake, for ours and for the sake of our children.

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