The prestigious Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry now has a new President in the person of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and former Ministers of Justice, Defence, Labour, and Culture, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode.
From law and many attainments in public life, he is today a man of many commitments and professional affiliation. A man of incredible innovations, the Prince of Ikaram Akoko is a bundle and factory of ideas. In his presence, new thoughts flow that you get transported to the future.
An advocate of skill upgrade, many marvel at his relentless training and retraining even when he has attained the topmost level of his career.
But he will always insist-there are more grounds to cover in new fields and new innovations.
Read more about him below:
1. German Dual Vocational Training Partnership, Delegation of German Industry and Commerce, Nigeria, Board Member, Permanent Working Group
Company Name- German Dual Vocational Training Partnership, Delegation of German Industry and Commerce, Nigeria
Dates Employed May 2017 – Present Employment Duration 8 months
Location: Lagos, Nigeria
2. Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Chair, Disputes Resolution Centre
Company Name Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Dates Employed Aug 2016 – Present Employment Duration 1 yr 5 months
Location: Abuja, Nigeria
3. Peace and Security Committee
Company Name Peace and Security Committee
Dates Employed Nov 2015 – Present Employment Duration 2 yrs 2 months
4. Location Pan African Lawyers Union, Arusha, Tanzania
Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists
5. Chair, Board Of Trustees
Company Name Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists
Dates Employed Dec 2016 – Present Employment Duration 1 yr 1 mo
Location: Abuja, Nigeri
6. ILT-Consult Ltd (investment Law &Taxation)
Company Name ILT-Consult Ltd (investment Law &Taxation)
Dates Employed Jul 2014 – Present Employment Duration 3 yrs 6 mos
Location: Abuja, Nigeria
He granted an interview years back, which is still relevant as he mounts the saddle as top barrister in business chamber.
If you look back, what would you consider your regrets?
Across boards, I have cause to be grateful to God. From primary to secondary school, the university, the law school, legal practice and politics, I think a lot has happened that can fill volume of books. I attended a village primary school, Pedro Primary School Shomolu, Lagos. I never had the privilege of attending a nursery school.
From there, despite having to compete with students from international schools, I was lucky to pass the common entrance examination to the C.M.S Grammar School which was the most prestigious secondary school in our time. In the school, it was not easy at all for me.
After the first term of Form One, I was never able to pay my school fees throughout my stay in school. In fact, I could not collect my school certificate result when others were getting theirs because I still owed school fees. But I was lucky to get eight credits, including in English and Mathematics.
Again, I could not go further immediately because there was no money. I couldn’t go for ‘A’ level because there was no money. I lost one year. The following year, things had improved and in October 1975 when I was 17, I entered the Polytechnic of Ibadan for my ‘A’ level before proceeding to the University of Lagos to study Law.
How was the university life like?
I lived a very mature life in the university because I had garnered experience at the Polytechnic of Ibadan. In the university, I knew when to sleep, wake up, read, go and socialize.
I hardly read more than three hours. I don’t read at large, I just pick a topic, read and regurgitate it. Students must read for knowledge.
I used to have virtually all my notes summarized in my own shorthand which I kept in my pocket, and I could read it anywhere. Only few of my friends knew my reading style.
My father believed only in the law profession because as a policeman, he had much regard for the profession, and partly because he moved around with lawyers, and he believed that if you are a lawyer, you would make money, have influence and cannot be cheated.
So, your father influenced your choice of studying Law?
It was not a matter of influencing. It was a matter of total brainwashing. In fact, when I was to go to university, my first, second and third choice was Law. I never considered studying any other course than Law, and I never considered any other job than law practice.
What actually drives your passion for legal practice?
First of all, I love legal practice, and I did it for 25 years in every court; right from the Area Court, Magistrate Court, Customary Court, Sh’aria Court, High Court, Appeal Court, to the Supreme Court and the tribunals including rent, investment and election tribunals.
I just find the legal practice very interesting. In legal practice, you must have the gift to understand the logical sequence of facts that are germane to your case.
If you can get your factual picture clear, applying the law is simple. A good lawyer is the one who knows where to get the law, not necessarily who has all the laws in his/her head. From the beginning, I was interested in procedure and evidence, and I read my procedure rules like the Bible.
I don’t joke with my evidence acts because it is the foundation for which most cases are built. Evidence is what the court considers, not your erudition. As a lawyer, you must be able to get the evidence required and to block your opponent from getting his own evidence.
And even if he gets his, if yours is heavier or more than his, you win and he loses. And if your evidence and his are equal, the court will null suit, that is; it cannot give judgment to both sides.
How did you feel when you were appointed Attorney-General of the Federation?
The day I was appointed Attorney-General, it came like boat of lightning. There was no indication that it would happen. Definitely, we were in a state of political flux, and we knew some changes would take place. But I never expected it that day.
So, when it happened, I was numbed. It was like a drama, and I was just looking at it from afar. Mr. President just said there would be some changes and that I would move from Labour and Productivity to Justice Ministry. I was quite elated and I appreciated that.
And during my short period there, I really appreciated the volume and quantum of the pressure on the Attorney-General. It is a very difficult office, though prestigious.
I have now understood that every lawyer, who wants to help our judicial system, must honestly support the Attorney-General. He has a very difficult task. I’m grateful to God that I had the opportunity of being there. It is a very interesting and influential office. It is an office that requires being hardworking, prayerful and circumspect.
How has life been outside the Federal Executive Council?
Unfortunately for me, I had thought that after the council was dissolved, I was going to take a vacation, but I could not because my old and new clients immediately started approaching me for cases.
So, I am back in my chambers. I want to strengthen my grasp of the principles and practices of international commercial arbitration. So, I have been doing some courses under the international chamber of commerce and other relevant bodies.
So, life after the Federal Executive Council has been very interesting, and I am a better man today. I have a wider world view and I now understand the pressure on government and some of the challenges facing our nation and can contribute maybe slightly better than I could before my appointment.
Looking back at years as minister….
I’m grateful for serving my country for four years. In a population of 150 million people, if you are opportune to serve for four years, you should be grateful to God and those who put you in those positions.
I’m still serving the nation as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, an international arbitrator, a commentator on critical issues affecting the country and as part of the nation building process, contributing my quota to helping the less privileged in my community.
What has been your greatest lesson in life?
I have learnt a lot of lessons, but the one that humbles me most is the ephemerality and temporariness of life. Everything will pass away.
Life is so temporary that we don’t need to put in so much bitterness. And I look at those who were in power yesterday, they are nowhere to be found today, and those who are in power today will pass to nowhere tomorrow. And God has never revealed the future to anybody.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I know many good things will happen in the future, but now, I want to see how I can help the less privileged either in the law profession or the vocational training generally.
I want to put people to work. When people are employed, poverty would be alleviated, and we would have a safer society with less crime.
We must emphasize skill development. We have graduates, but are they employable? We must make our graduates employable. There is also skill mismatch. We produce more arts graduates than science ones.