Oyebode: Tribute to a scholar

Professor Akindele Babatunde Oyebode

Here couldn’t have been a better time to celebrate Professor Akindele Babatunde Oyebode than now that he has met the mandatory retirement age as a professor at University of Lagos, Nigeria. The Professor of Law and Chairman, Office of International Relations, Partnerships and Prospects at University of Lagos, Nigeria has joined the septuagenarian league to the glory of God.

Naturally in all human endeavours, whatever has a beginning must have an end. However, what makes this one a unique happy ending is how eventful the academic career has been, coupled with the special grace of finishing well by celebrating 70th natal day anniversary which has made it a double celebration for the Oyebode family. No doubt, family members and friends of the erudite legal luminary have every reason to appreciate God for the marvelous thing He has done in the life of Oyebode. His students, professional colleagues, wide range of multifaceted associates, kinsmen and old school mates do have so many beautiful things to say about the brilliant professor of jurisprudence. That the academic and jurist of repute stands out in reputation may not be a surprise to those who have known him over the years.

Most of the distinguished people in the contemporary world often have something outstanding usually peculiar to them and what a remarkable gem is often noted for is a reflection of the inner self and values that drive the person’s convictions. One thing that cannot be taken away from Oyebode is the fact that he stands for honour and integrity. His word is his bond. A discerning person can figure out his position and views on national or world issues and you can know where he stands with you at every point in time without pretenses. Relatively, most upright people are comfortable with him while he keeps the company of respectable citizens. His inimitable personality earned him a consistent respect in the academic community and various constituencies he is associated with.

On December 9, 1947, the prominent Oyebode family of Ikole-Ekiti was blessed with the birth of an exceptional child, christened Akindele Babatunde. The notable child was born in Ado-Ekiti to Chief Zacheaus Oladipo Oyebode and Madam Janet Olarewaju Oyebode. His father was a product of Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti with the school number 38/012 and at various times the patriarch served in the army, worked as a school teacher, party apparatchik and social worker in the civil service. His parents wanted the best for their children as reflected in the schools Professor Oyebode and other members of the clan attended.

The academic brilliance of Professor Oyebode started in Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti where he had his secondary education from 1960 to 1966 with the school number 60/057 and his excellent character earned him a place among the school prefects in his senior class. He passed out with grade one in his West African School Certificate Examination. A product of Harvard Law School in 1974 to 1975, holds LL.M. with Highest Distinction (Otlichnik) from Kiev State University, Kiev, Ukraine in 1973 and Doctor of Jurisprudence from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto, Canada in 1988. His scholarship, prizes and fellowship include JFK Essay Competition School Level Winner in 1966, Soviet Institute of World Economy and International Relations Scholarship in 1967, Harvard University Tuition Fellowship in 1974, Ford Foundation/International Legal Center Fellowship in 1974 and York University Graduate Assistantship 1981.

He held appointment as the Head of Department of Jurisprudence and International Law, University of Lagos and the Vice-Chancellor of Ekiti-State University in 2002-2004.

He is a member of front-line learned societies and leading professional associations such as Nigerian Society of International Law, American Society of International Law, International Law Association, Nigerian Association of Law Teachers, Nigerian Bar Association and Nigerian Institute of Management. He has over 31 books and monographs, over 82 journal articles as well as many research works and numerous unpublished major conference and seminar papers to his credit.

The other activities of Oyebode include being a guest lecturer in public international law, law of the sea and outer space at Foreign Service Academy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lagos; member of board of directors of African and African-American Foundation on Science, Education and Economic Development Inc., New York; chairman and editor-in-chief, Nigerian Journal of Contemporary Law; member of editorial board, Lagos State University Law Journal; member of editorial board, University of Jos Law Journal; member of editorial board, Journal of Human Rights Law and Practice; member of editorial advisory council, The News; contributing editor, Environment Network; expert consultant, National Boundary Commission; consultant, Civil Liberties Organization; member, advisory board, Centre for Human Rights and Development; consultant, UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, Vienna; Chair, International Advisory Board, Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law; chair, board of governors, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre; member of board of Trustees, National Association of Democratic Lawyers; member of board of directors, Centre for Advanced Social Science; editorial consultant, Guardian Newspapers; chairman, Catholic secretariat of Nigeria think-tank; member of advisory board of Leadership Watch; and member of the Board of Trustees, Ekitipanupo Community Development Association.

The international jurist and an academic of note is an exemplary family man. God in His faithfulness blessed his marriage to Chief Mrs Morenike Abosede Oyebode who retired as a senior official of West African Examination Council with successful children: Akintunde, Akindeji and Olajumoke.  Professor Oyebode is indeed a blessing to Nigeria having produced many qualified lawyers in the country that have occupied and still occupying strategic positions in government at states and federal level. Naturally, he is a pride of Ekiti people which unequivocally earned him the position of pioneer leadership of Ekitipanupo Forum, the preeminent indigenous intellectual roundtable for Ekiti people at home and in Diaspora. He represented Ekiti State in the last national conference during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.

What else can one say to this “A good tree never begets a bad fruit.”

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