Women are God’s great gift to the globe and if pampered, well primed, preserved and placed in vantage positions to pursue their life pursuits and attain their full potentials, they will grow to become precious personalities and promoters of prosperity, progress and posterity. Cheeringly, inspite of the various challenges that tends to hamper their moving forward, women across the planet are rapidly rising up to the tasks, closing the gaps of gender inequality and intimidation, increasing solidarity amongst themselves, exceeding expectations, raising the bar of excellence and making tremendous impacts in their various field of endeavors. Through their careers, competencies, and connections, they are making profound statements that stamp their significance in global affairs and improvements.
In the light of the above, Acclaim Nigeria International Magazine (ANIM) talks to a woman of elegance and excellence, who is making Africa proud through her career and passion. A seasoned lawyer, feminist, public analyst and defender of human rights . The Nigerian-Pride, formerly the P.R.O and now the newly elected Vice Chairperson of FIDA-Nigeria, Lagos State chapter, let us into her world and how she is contributing her quota with other like minds in moving the nation and continent to the next level of impact and respectability.
Enjoy the interview excerpts….
Can we meet you ma?
I am Barrister (Mrs.) Abimbola Badia Jack.-Oladugba. Esq. MICMC, from Lagos State, Ijora Badia to be precise. I am married to Hon. Olaposi Oladugba, blessed with three Children, a grandson and granddaughter. I attended Badia Primary School and Gaskiya College Ijora Badia Lagos. I went to University of Benin, Sociology and Anthropology Department and later proceeded to the Ambrose Alli University, where I graduated with a degree in Law L.L.B. Thereafter I enrolled for the mandatory Law School Lagos Campus and was called to the Nigerian Bar and a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Immediately after my call to the Nigerian Bar I got a job with Chief Ladi Rotimi Williams Chambers and few years later, I decided to continue my law practice on my own, that was the birth of my law firm J.B Abimbola Chambers in 2009. I am into general practice and properties. I am a member of ICMC, and the coordinator of Lagos Female Lawyer in Politics. I also have a diploma in social works from the prestigious University of Benin, Edo State, Nigeria. And this has helped to sharpen my knowledge and skills in the management of victims of Gender Base Violence, especially in the areas of counseling and advice.
Why did you choose to be a lawyer and how has the legal journey been so far?
From a very tender age I realized my desire towards people’s problem. I can’t stay calm where someone is cheated or lied against, I will always stand to lend my voice to help such vulnerable one. I always have to speak and make things work in my environment and the strong encouragement I got from my nuclear family; particularly my late Dad has helped a lot in the pursuit of my law career.
When I was still in the primary school, they will always tease me as ‘Madam Lawyer’ of the house, because I argue’ anytime and tried to defend my actions or even cover up my wrongs (laugh). My being in the legal profession is a dream come through, imagining me having had to change my course in sociology and anthropology at 300level to go back to AAU to start my law programme that is to show how strong my craving for law and the drive to fight for the oppressed is. And, since then, I have not had a single regret.
You are a known and fierce voice against social injustice and crimes, especially crimes like rape, Gender Based Violence, assault against women and the Girl-Child, and other social injustice; why are you so concerned and passionate about these groups?
My passion for any group or laws that stands to protect the right of women and children and concerns of women and children cannot be over-emphasized. There is an inner drive in me that is always at work whenever I come across any rape victim, an abused child, victims of domestic violence and all forms of Gender Based Violence. We know very well women and children are the most vulnerable group in the society, so the predators find them so easy to prey on. And, in most cases these victims are indigent and could barely afford the necessity of life talk less of funding litigation. Therefore, I see it as a commitment and a legal responsibility to voice out or fight for such helpless victims. We cannot afford to look the other way when unpleasant and unjust treatments are meted out to the weak and helpless, and we shouldn’t allow the wicked and their nefarious actions go unchallenged and unpunished. Standing for truth and justice at all times is acceptable by God and vital for humanity betterment and societal progress. For this reason, I and other volunteers have taken it upon ourselves to address the cause and save the defenseless and oppressed in our own little ways.
You are also a key member of several laudable platforms and bodies across the country; can you let us into some of these profitable pursuits and their impacts in Nigeria and beyond?
Yes, I belong to lots of bodies, and I have taken it upon myself to be a voice for the voiceless, to stand and fight for the abused, and ensure proper and prompt prosecutions and convictions of evil perpetrators.
Some of these platforms include International Federation Of Women Lawyers in Nigeria (FIDA) Lagos state branch, Nigerian Bar Association Women Forum, African Women Lawyers, Girl-Child Women Foundation, etc. There is no gain-saying that much of the impacts of the afore-mentioned groups most especially FIDA: an international NGO introduced to Nigeria over fifty years ago and at the frontline of women rights, fighting relentlessly for indigent women and children day-in day-out by probono cases to any level until justice is served and offenders are convicted and brought to book are felt and applauded in Nigeria. I also belong to: Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Institute of Chartered Mediator and Conciliator. (MICMC), Lagos Female Lawyers in Politics (FEMLSO) amongst other. The Nigerian Bar Association as the name implied comprise of all legal practitioners that has been called to the Bar of the supreme court of Nigeria. It is a body that has helped to bind lawyers together throughout Nigeria and even oversea through other international Bar Associations. The unrelenting and selfless efforts of lawyers to reduce crime rates and injustice are huge and should always be appreciated. Their checks on the three arms of government and ensuring good governance at all levels are key to national growth and should always be encouraged.
My membership in ICMC has also helped to introduce us to an option of settlement of cases without going through litigation or to court. This platform has also helped to save time and fund, and assisted in no small ways in reducing the stress of litigants struggling to get justice through a prolong litigation process in recent time.
How do you see the future of the legal profession in Nigeria amidst its many challenges?
Honestly, the future is bleak unless we, lawyers, do a lot much more in revamping the situation. Many lawyers do spend ample time on the technicalities rather than the substantive matters, thereby, wasting the precious time of the court. That explains why there are cases spanning over 20 years and above in courts and cases of Justice delayed.
Secondly, there are many conflicting rulings coming out from courts on the same matter thus bringing about confusion and disorder.
Another unpleasant experience threatening the legal profession is the executive excesses against the judiciary. Not until the judiciary as one of the three arms of government is totally independent, the legal profession will always be ridiculed.
You are a role model and mentor to many, would you recommend the law profession to the young Nigerian females aspiring to become one?
Very well, I would always encourage any young woman or Girl-Child that interest in reading Law to go ahead with all the serious and zest .Because it is the desire and determination in you that will help you pull through in times of storms and other challenges. I will gladly recommend full time practice to women as it is the joy of being a Legal practitioner and that is where you feel fulfilled as a Lawyer.
What are your advice to the Girl-Child, Young Women, Government and the Nigerian People?
My advise to the following groups are:
The Nigerian Girl-Child, Young Women and Women: The Girl-Child should be ready to learn the right morals and values right from childhood. The Girl-Child welfare, safety and bright future are very dear to me, hence, she should always be of good behaviours, be obedient to her parents, have respects for herself and protects her integrity and the family name any where she goes. A lot of predators await the Girl-Child out there so she should be very vigilant and careful with peer group and the opposite sex. Parents and guardians should also be fully alive to their responsibilities in training these today’s joy and tomorrow’s leaders to become responsible women in the society.
The young woman should be ready and always strive to live an upright and exemplary life, be law abiding, and add value to their families and the society of women across the country and globally.- Women are known to be nation builders right from their individual homes. They should therefore be trained in the way of the Lord and should live their lives as role models and destiny molders. The earlier we realize as (young women and women generally) that we are the bedrock of the family, the better for us.
We must thus rise up to our responsibilities and the challenges confronting us as women: be it in our chosen careers, marriages, schools, family pressure, house chores, the children, husbands and what have you. God has put us in strategic, and advantageous positions to handle and seek for solutions in all these areas mentioned so as to get the best out of the situations; so the ‘”WOMAN'” in you must not sleep away at anytime. Guard against the pleasure of self-satisfaction as it may delude you of your goal, so carefully and prayerfully plan your life priorities and be calm to achieve it step by step.
ii. The Nigerian government and leadership.
The Nigerian Government at all levels must be responsive and responsible, promoting salutary and exemplary leadership, respecting and serving the citizenry as expected, providing good welfare packages, brining about overall overall improvements and progress and ensuring effective security of lives and properties at all times. The Fundamental Human rights of all persons must be respected and guided jealously.
Rule of law, peace, equity, social and legal justice and good-governance are essential components of a sane and improved society and must be practiced nationwide. Nigerians at home must also respect the government, obey the laws of the land and be responsible citizens at all times.
iii. Nigerians at home and in the diaspora.
Nigerians in Diaspora must be good ambassadors of the home country, abide by the laws of the host countries they reside in. They must monitor the activities at home and assist the country by correctly investing in the Nigerian economy thereby helping Nigerians at home to live morally and socially acceptable lifestyles. When economy is buoyant, job opportunities will be created for Nigerians and they will live well. Nigerians at homes and visitors alike should be part of government’s laudable works and programmes. They should continue to support national development efforts, obey the laws of the land and be responsible citizens and residents.
…And to Acclaim Nigeria International Magazine…Keep up the good works we are always proud of you!