“If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants” – Sir Isaac Newton.
Very Rev Professor Konyinsola Ajayi SAN, the Managing Partner of Olaniwun Ajayi Legal Practitioner (OALP) born on Monday 25th May, 1959 is the third child of a former Commissioner for Health in the defunct western region of Nigeria, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi of Isara Remo. Professor Ajayi, a transaction lawyer described by peers as “a lawyer’s of lawyer,” who took Silk in 2000 is the minister in charge, Emmanuel Chapel Methodist Church, Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos. Professor Ajayi is a mentor and legal giant with humbleness of heart and God’s anointing and blessed with shoulder for many people to stand on. Professor Ajayi’s call to the Methodist ministry according to him was about ‘following an inner unction to function as a collarised one, and encouragement by Bishop Ogunlere and Very Rev Captain Okunoren.’ He was admitted in 2010 to the Methodist Theological Institute, Sagamu and ‘was commissioned as a deacon in 2012, serving at Methodist Church of the Trinity, Tinubu, Lagos. In September 2013, as it pleased God, I was ordained as a priest, and in March 2015, I was, by divine providence, elevated to the office of presbyter.’ Professor Ajayi is happily married with God fearing children.
Professor Ajayi attended University of Ile Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University (1975-1979). He holds a Master’s Degree (L.L.M) from Harvard Law School in 1982, and a PhD in International Markets from Cambridge University in 1991. He is admitted to practice in both the Nigerian Bar (1980) and the English Bar (Middle Temple). He was admitted to the Middle Temple of the English Bar in 1989. His first day in court was as a youth corps member and according to him, ‘it was largely uneventful.’
Professor Ajayi is a member of the International Bar Association, the English and the Nigerian Bar Association and was once the Vice President of the Worldwide Alumni Association of the Harvard Law School. He is an Associate fellow of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, England and also a Director of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group. He was the Chairman, Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP) for the 2017 edition of the Nigerian Bar Association’s (NBA) 57th Annual General Conference from 18th to 25th August in Lagos.
For Professor Ajayi, ‘God is the fountain of knowledge.’ As a Professor at Babcock University, Ilisan Remo, his believe is that ‘there is great esteem in being a teacher’ and ‘responsibility finds expression in one’s philosophical underpinnings, and for me, my spiritual DNA.’ Among his experiences as a lecturer suggests that, ‘one must empty himself so as to be replenished.’ Lecturing for Professor Ajayi is ‘opportunity to make a difference; to be a living sacrifice and to impart knowledge in the next generation; to contribute to the development of the law, and in the process, develop myself. There is indeed great esteem in being a teacher. I long for the day when the glory of teaching is restored at all levels in Nigeria.’
As a mentor to many, Professor Ajayi is ‘driven to assist people and organisations in achieving justice, mitigating, if not avoiding, risks, and bringing their dreams to fruition.’ According to him, ‘I like to be an advocate and a solicitor, and I have shown both my fidelity, just as I encourage my mentees to pursue their dreams.’
For the Harvard and Cambridge trained Professor of Law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria as well as the Managing Partner of one of the leading law firms in Africa, his largest single financial transaction in Nigeria financial history was the ‘NGN4.7 trillion bond issuance programme established by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria. That was an outstanding experience that was built on the genius of men; the then Governor of CBN, now Emir of Kano; the then CEO of AMCON, a First Class brain and outstanding financial intermediary, Mustapha Chike-Obi, and his team; Bolaji Balogun of Chapel Hill Denham and my colleagues at OALP.’
As an Old Student of Igbobi College, Lagos (1971-75), the foremost among the people that shaped Professor Ajayi into the man he is today was his father, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi. According to Professor Ajayi, his father, ‘had an enormous influence on my life. From my character to my spirituality; he was my master and tutor. He showed me the way in many areas. In terms of events, my struggle for freedom, justice, and democracy, resulting in detention, have been helpful in steeling my resolve never to look back in serving mankind. There was a time that I was unconstitutionally detained in prison in Bauchi and Maiduguri, for over three nights, at the instance, I am told, of the Head of State, Olusegun Obasanjo and Yar’Adua in 1979 during elections. I was also held under a brief house arrest along with Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Ayo Adebanjo and others in Abakaliki by the police in 1978 while on a political reawakening tour; and my 1984 detention at Iyaganku police station, Ibadan, under trumped up charges of murder of a policeman at the instance of the then Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Nuhu Aliyu, who later became a senator.’ Among the important lessons his father taught him is to be right with his fellow man and to ‘glorify God by serving the present age and to fulfil my calling in all the ways that Christ has charged me.’
On the corruption in the Nigerian judiciary, Professor Ajayi is of the opinion ‘that the judiciary is a reflection of the society.’ According to him, ‘we do hear of many bad cases and we do know of judges that have been dismissed for corruption and we are all for it. Things are bad. I admit that. Things are bad and corruption must be arrested and nobody must stand in the way of the law taking its course against judges.’ His caution is that ‘the judge like the citizen must be, one, presumed innocent until found guilty …’ At 60, Very Rev Professor Ajayi is nothing short of an institution. In such a time when the church and the nation in general are divided, bleeding with greed and corruption, Professor Ajayi’s voice remains a clear reminder of our national and religious renewal and revival.