It was like a dream come true for a two two-time Ondo governorship candidate, Barr. Olusola Oke as he attained the peak of his career when he was shortlisted for the fourth time for elevation to SAN. On the 6th of July, 2017, his name was among the 30 new SANs, who were sworn in on Monday 19th September, 2017. Though, he is not the first Ondo state indigene to become a SAN, but he is the first Ilaje indigene to become a SAN after 30 years since he was called to the Bar. He surely has risen to the peak of his career as he is one of the determinant factors in Ondo State politics and one of the forces to reckon with.
He was born on 7 April 1956 in Ilowo, a coastal town in Ilaje Local government Area of Ondo State. His father was from Ilaje and his mother hailed from Imoru town in Ose Local Government Area of Ondo state. His story will not be complete without mentioning that he was never born with a sliver spoon, but never allowed his background to have any negative effect on his future.
HIS GROWING UP
Growing up for Mr. Olusola Oke was not really rosy, owing to his poor background and his parents’ inability to send him to school. He became a fisher man at a tender age of 7 when he had to drop out of school in 1963 and became a fisherman, who lived and earned his living from the creek of the rivers in Ilaje and its environs.
He wrestled with poverty and social deprivation that almost prevented him from being educated. For good 10 years, that was between 1963 and 1973, he engaged in subsistence high sea fishing, a career in which he acquired great fame. Going into fishery business was a need because in the riverine areas one of their major occupation is fishing and hardly will you see any of their children, who does not know how to fish. In the case of Mr. Olusola Oke SAN, his success story will not be complete without his experience as a fisherman.
HIS EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND
He attended UNA Primary School, Ode-Ilowo between 1961-1963. His quest for knowledge compelled him to abandon fishing to the amazement of his colleagues and returned to Methodist Primary School, Ilepete in 1973 to complete his primary education. He later proceeded to Methodist Secondary Modern School, Ilepete where he graduated in 1976. He attended Ilaje Grammar School, Atijere in Ilaje Local Government where he bagged his WASC in 1980. He taught briefly as an auxiliary Teacher at Happy City College Ayetero, Ilaje Local Government and Methodist High School, Okitipupa. In October 1981. He was given admission to Ondo State School of Arts and Science, Ikare, where he was, when the prestigious University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo university, (OAU) offered him admission in 1982 to study law. He bagged a degree in Law in 1986 from where he proceeded to the Nigerian Law School and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1987.
His Legal practice
As a young lawyer, he joined Olufemi Lanlehin and Co. law firm in Ikeja, Lagos in 1987, from there, he moved to Okitipupa to establish Olusola Oke and Associates on 14 July, 1988. His resolve to commence his law practice early enough was encouraged by his easy grasp of routines and outstanding delivery in all the matters he participated in. He had always seen law as an embodiment of moral values, sentiments and dispositions of the people and therefore, he had long resolved to employ it as an instrument of societal re-engineering in line with the tenets of Roscoe Pound and to earn his living from it too.
He took that decision with a firm faith in God. After practising for 6 years, in 1996, he became the Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Okitipupa Branch. Between 1997 and year 2000, he was the chairman of NBA, Okitipupa Branch. He was also a member of the National Executive Committee of NBA. His professional practice provided the platform that earned him the opportunity to blossom in politics and to join others in liberating his people. Today, his law firm has its headquarters in Abuja.
He has been listed for the prestigious title of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a SAN, three times and in all the three instances, he made it to the final list. But on July 16th, 2017 his name was again shortlisted for the fourth time and he became a SAN on the 19th September, 2017 and the first Ilaje man in the history of Ondo State to become a SAN. One thing many don’t understand about him was how he was able to combine politics and law and yet he excelled on both fields despite being two difficult areas. He practised law to its fullest and paved a way for equity and constitutionality to prevail unhindered in all the matters he handled.
HIS POLITICAL JOURNEY
He started his political journey as a youth activist in the Ilaje Patriotic Front (IPF), a frontline youth pressure group in the late 80’s. The desire of the IPF was for Ilaje people to get to the promised land. They employed their intellectual prowess, provided leadership and ignited the thirst for development in the people. Through purposeful plans, commitment and loyalty to the course of the people, they made a mark and created legendary marks in their land. The group later metamorphosed into a political group.
The group, in recognition of his contributions insisted on him going into politics. In 1991 he was made Local Government Legal Adviser of the defunct Social Democratic Party, SDP. From 1991 to 1992, he was a member of Board of Internal Revenue in Ondo State. Since then, he had combined politics with his legal practice without necessarily leaving one for the other.
In 1992, he became a member, Federal House of Representatives, representing Ilaje/Ese-odo Federal Constituency. He became the pioneer chairman board of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC in year 2000. During his tenure, he was able to execute and complete over two hundred and fifty projects. His vast record and achievements facilitated his appointment as the Executive Chairman of the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC), another intervention agency, in 2004.
In 2005, he was nominated and served in the National Political Reform Conference and in 2007, he served as a member of the Presidential Technical Committee on Niger Delta. He was appointed the Chairman of the Federal Polytechnic, Bida in 2009 and also appointed Chairman, National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency between 2009 and 2011.
He also served as the National Legal Adviser of the PDP, between 2008 and 2012. His ambition to serve his people led him to contesting the governorship election in 2012 and 2016 respectively. In 2012, he was the PDP candidate and in 2016 he was first an aspirant under the auspices of APC (All progressive Congress) but after the primary election, he moved to Alliances for Democracy where he emerged AD governorship candidate. For many years, he was in PDP, but during the general elections, he dumped PDP for APC.
Within his short stay in APC, he became a force to reckon with and he was a top contender for All Progressives Congress’ (APC) ticket for the state Governorship election in November 2016. He decamped to the Alliance for Democracy (AD) after the APC primaries. Having lost the 2016 election, he has since returned to his law career, while politics is put on hold for the moment. In celebrating this historical event, thanksgiving service was held in his honour on Sunday 24th September, 2017 at Church of Christ Cathedral, College Road, Ilusosi, Igbokoda. While the reception took place at Ilaje High School Sports Ground, Igbokoda.