That I, Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN is today, the 26th of August 2022, standing before you as the 31st President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA); the prestigious association of the only noble profession, the largest, most vibrant and most influential Bar on the continent of Africa, is simply a function of the grace of God Almighty. To HIM ALONE be all the glory, the honour and the praise.
My late parents, Lt. Maikyau Chonoko and Mrs. Titi Maikyau, had no formal education. Had my father not joined the Army, my late sister, Amina Maikyau, and I may not have gone to school. I can recall my father saying to me as he sent me off to the School of Basic Studies, Zaria in 1984, “any day you go hungry, come home, whatever we have we will share”.
My mother, amongst other trades, sold firewood to support my education and as an undergraduate, I helped to split the firewood for sale. My late sister on her part, after her National Certificate of Education (NCE) suspended further education and took up a teaching appointment to support the family and my education. She only went back to school to graduate in 1994 – four (4) years after my call to the Bar in 1990. My father passed on the 28th of January 1989, while I was in my final year in ABU Zaria; my sister passed on the 10th of January 2005 and my mother, on the 1st of December 2019. It was as though they all came into the world just for me as I do not have a recollection of anything they did for themselves, but from the time I could recognise and recall events, I can only remember all they did to raise and support this boy, Yakubu. They were selfless towards me as they individually and collectively invested in me.
My father did not witness my graduation and eventual call to the Bar and my sister did not live to see me become a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. Coincidentally, today is the 11th anniversary of my swearing in as Senor Advocate of Nigeria, which only my mum was privileged to witness on the 26th of August 2011. I pay special tribute to all of them for their love, sacrifices, support, prayers and for a godly upbringing. I am sure that, to the glory of God, they look from heaven, proud of their boy and grateful for the privilege of being part of the journey that culminated in this inauguration ceremony.
I studied Physics, Chemistry and Biology in my A-level classes at the School of Basic Studies, Zaria. Never in my wildest thoughts or imaginations did I contemplate studying Law. I gained admission to study Veterinary Medicine at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria. About three weeks into my resumption in Veterinary Medicine, I was informed by my friend, Hassan Danjuma, that he saw my name on the admissions list for the Faculty of Law.He literally dragged me to the old Senate Building and pointed out my name on the list. I saw it and was completely taken aback and unsuccessfully tried so hard to convince Hassan that this was in fact news to me. I later confirmed that my name was not only on the master list but also in the list at the Faculty of Law.
Thereafter, I travelled to Sokoto to consult with my big brother figure, Mr. J. S. Magaji of blessed memory, who said to me, “if you can cope, Law is a more lucrative course than Veterinary Medicine”. Upon return to Zaria, I withdrew from Veterinary Medicine and re-registered as a law student with the encouragement of the then Dean of Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Professor Daniel Saror, who also promised to defer my admission to the following year, so that if I could not cope with Law, I could return to continue with Veterinary Medicine.
I owe a debt of gratitude to Professor Daniel Saror, late Mr. J. S. Magaji and late Senator Danladi Bamayi, my first employer and principal in chambers, with whom I worked for almost 13 years. Senator Bamayi’s sense of duty, discipline, honesty, respect for values, ethics, and standards helped in no small measure in moulding me into who I am, as a legal practitioner, a husband and a father. I know Professor Daniel Saror (who would have been here in person – he will be 81 in October), the late Mr. J. S. Magaji and the late Senator Danladi Bamayi, are proud of their advice and mentorship and are equally grateful to God to have had a hand in what turned out to be the nurturing of the seed of greatness God deposited in me.
That we are here today, is more than enough proof that I never went back to study Veterinary Medicine.That I can rise to the peak of the profession of law, into which I was admitted by sheer providence (for I did not apply to study Law; I still do not know how my name appeared on that list), attain the rank of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and now the 31st President of the NBA, are all the work of the Almighty. Is there any impossibility with God? Certainly NONE! I give God Almighty, the Alpha and Omega, Omnipresent, Omniscience, Omnipotent, the ONLY WISE ONE, the ONE in whom the essence of His existence is in Himself, all the glory, honour and praise.
I must recognise the contribution and support of my partners and colleagues at Y. C. Maikyau and Co. This project afforded me the opportunity to see a side of them that I probably may never have experienced. Their commitment, passion and sacrifices towards this aspiration, have been humbling. They have also assured me that I do not have to worry about the office for the 2 years that I will be steering the affairs of the Bar. My partners; Raphael Terfa, Nwabueze Obasiobi, Mohammed Adelodun; I am grateful for the support. I am also grateful to my Associates and staff at the office for their tremendous support.
My campaign team was simply awesome. The Director General of the campaign, Mr. Yemi Akangbe, who earned himself the aliases of “capacity”, “energy”, “structural”, “intellectual”, “accommodating”, to mention just a few, drove the process well. We saw the interplay of these attributes during the campaign. Mazi Afam Osigwe SAN, “the Golden Boy”, was exceptional in his support; he committed his time, resources and experience to support this aspiration. I am grateful to my Nominators, Chief R. A. Lawal Rabana (my egbon) past NBA General Secretary and Life Bencher and Mr. Aminu Sani Gadanya (the fine boy from Kano), who found me worthy of nomination, for their trust and support. I am grateful to my friend and call-mate, Sopriye Long Williams for deploying his wealth of experience as Deputy Director General of the Campaign alongside my younger brother, Paul Daudu. My profound gratitude goes to the rest of the Campaign team: Murtala Kankiya; Sammie Somiari, SAN; Chinaecherem Nwaubani; Laura Alakija; Aisha M. Hassan; Barbara Omosun; Olabamiji Adeyeye; Rachael Osibu; Dressman Ebikebina; Auta Nyada; Henry Barnabas; Yakubu Philemon; Isah Aliyu; Eva Amadi; Folarin Aluko; Hope Anehmen; Jamiu Isiaka; Lere Fashola; Blessing Udofia-Poromon; Amaka Uzuegbu; Ada Edozie; Adanma Isamade; Sameera Tabo; Godwin Madubuko; Augustine N. Eseagwu; Nasir Salau; M. A. Magaji, SAN; Adekunle Ojoh, SAN; all my friends and colleagues of the 1990 set of the Nigerian Law School and a host of other friends and colleagues too numerous to mentiom.
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