A Time In My Life: Memoir From Nigeria’s Youngest Senior Advocate, M. O. Atoyebi, SAN
Two years ago, I was adorned with one of the highest prestigious ranks in the legal profession, but then tragedy struck – I lost my son, then began to struggle with my health: had a heart condition, and soon one organ after the other in my system began to have issues; had loss of appetite and weight loss automatically set in; one of the therapies required the complete elimination of salt from my diet.
It didn’t stop there, the whirlwind of tragedy also showed up in my workplace. I lost my biggest clients, had a national disgrace by one of my old clients, juniors I had trained and nurtured as if they were family, revolted against me and attempted to take over the office or cripple it. As a young Senior Advocate of Nigeria, I suffered a constant loss of opportunities because of the perception that one’s age is a determinant of one’s intellectual capacity. There was an open show of disrespect by colleagues and juniors alike, and due to my personal training and values, I felt constrained to react. I was judged by everything I did and all these happened consecutively giving the notion that it was particularly designed to break me.
With the support of my loved ones, I had to wake up every day, put on a smile, and act as if all was well, though I was drowning in my world of seeming success.
All these made me realize that I was just human and not immune to crisis or tragedy. With all the opportunities, privileges and protocols available to me, I still have challenges like every other human. I realized that the attainment of Silk is only but a rank and the highest privilege a lawyer can ever hope to have, which must be treated with reverence and care, lest you get consumed.
Of a truth, uncertain of what the future holds but knowing that the greatest failure is – ‘the failure of not trying’, I have resolved not to be broken or discouraged, but to take one day at a time, with God on my side.
I have taken time to pen down these words in this manner today with only one purpose in mind: to encourage myself and others out there. It is without doubt that the storms of life assail everyone, perhaps at different times. Nonetheless, we must refuse to let circumstances stop us from persevering to be the best we can be in our chosen paths or careers. Do not let ‘that challenge’ stop you!
My journey as a Silk, husband, father, brother and friend, has made me appreciate the much I have to live for. It has also caused me to take decisive action towards ensuring that as much as it lies within my control, the less fortunate get a fighting chance at success – just as I was given one.
To celebrate my second anniversary as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, I will be sponsoring two (2) indigent law students to the Nigerian Law School and with God on my side, I will increase it every year according to the number of my years at the Inner Bar.
I will at this juncture, congratulate my fellow brothers and sisters celebrating their anniversary at the Inner Bar and also call on them to join me on this adventure to strengthen our interconnectedness, by putting smiles on the faces of intending lawyers.
With this #InnerBarChallenge, we will once again take up brick and mortar and together, join efforts, towards providing opportunities to persons without hope because we have so much to be grateful for.
© O. M Atoyebi, SAN