THE JOURNEY SO FAR: Interviews with some final year students of Bola Ajibola College of Law, Crescent University, Aboekuta. By Ummideen Haliru, Department of Mass Communication, Crescent University, Abeokuta.

When the Dean of Law, Crescent University, Prof. Momodu Kassim-Momodu sent me a message that I should contact him not later than 18 November 2020 for an urgent project assignment, I was overwhelmed by anxiety as I wondered what the project was all about. The emphasis on urgency further heightened my anxiety. I had just finished my second semester examinations and was preparing to travel home. My heightened anxiety became more complex as I could not reach him the whole day. He finally called me the following morning with the request that I interview some final year students of his Law College before I travel. He advised me to contact the outgoing Chairman of the university branch of the Nigerian Society of International Law (NSIL), Naheemat Yusuf for assistance in reaching the students I was to interview. I am one of the few non-law students who are members of the NSIL, and a member of the Executive Committee responsible for publicity and public relations.

After identifying the students to interview, I called the Dean of Law to share and discuss the uniform questions I had drafted for the interview. He agreed with my seven questions. Armed with the questions, my voice recorder, paper and pen, I set out for the assignment. Here is verbatim report of the interview with Naheemat T. Yusuf, Simbiat Lola, Ayomide A. Abiodun, Habeeb Jimoh,  Mustapha Boluwatife Alogba, Zainab T Shittu, Olalekan O. Ogunbunmi, and Aro Hassan, all graduating students of Bola Ajibola College of Law, Crescent University, Abeokuta.

Naheemat T. Yusuf, ACArb. Piooner Chairman Nigerian Society of International Law, Crescent University Abeokuta Branch

How challenging is the year for you due to covid-19 and the joy of being able to go through virtual learning?  The year has been very challenging because I didn’t foresee the coronavirus pandemic coming and with the ravaging force it has had globally. However it opened room to new things for me. I realized that we actually don’t have to be together to do a lot of things because we were able to achieve so much. We started having classes and conferences virtually by zoom and other online platforms and applications. It has been exciting and very good because we now know that we can learn without been in school. Despite everything, I have overcome all the challenges that this year has brought. The year taught me there is nothing I can’t do.

What is your joy of being able to return to school for second semester examination? I was very happy, but we had such a short time.  I am excited that we came back and that we are finally done.

What has been your general experience in Crescent University? It’s my first time living and schooling in the western part of the country and it is a different environment for me such that Crescent University is predominantly Muslims with lots of Yoruba people. Eventually I blended in, made good friends, we have good lecturers. So far looking back I don’t regret been here and Crescent University really motivated me to work hard. My general experience here isn’t so bad and looking back it doesn’t seem like I have spent so much time here.

How will you in few words describe your experience of reading law in Bola Ajibola College of Law? In all honesty, I really love that I studied in BACOLAW. It was really enlightening, we had so much opportunities especially joining professional societies like The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Nigerian Society of International Law. Not many law student in Nigeria get that experience and opportunities. Am very proud being an alumnus of BACOLAW. It was a good experience overall.

How do you feel knowing you are done with studies and set to proceed to Nigerian Law School? Am very excited because this is my biggest achievement so far. I don’t think words can contain how I feel. Am grateful to my lecturers, friends, parent and God.

What is your advice for upcoming law students? Be focused, read hard and engage in extra curriculum activities to be able to relate in the real world.

What are your plans and professional aspirations moving forward? Currently, my plan is to go to law school and get my Masters in Law studies done, then professionally, I haven’t decided but I know am going to use my degree to practice law.

Miss Simbiat Lola, ACArb. Outgoing President of Alternative Dispute Resolution Society, Chief Judge, Law Students Association of Nigeria (LAWSAN) 2019/2020, Winner LAWSAN Social Personality of the Year

How challenging is the year for you due to covid-19 and the joy of being able to go through virtual learning? 

Alhamdulillah, the year hasn’t been easy but at the end of the day we wrote our final exams. It wasn’t easy having continous virtual learning during the lockdown, but thank God we were able to pull through.

How did you feel on learning that you will be able to return to school for second semester examination?

I was happy that I did not have to wait till next year, it was heart fulfilling.

What has been your general experience in Crescent University?

Hmmm. I have had the best experience and I would categorically say that my five years is never the same five years with any other person in this school. I made use of every single penny of my money that I paid to Crescent University (…laughter).

It’s been really excitingly nice and I have been able to grow as a person emotionally, physically, spiritually, psychologically and in all aspects of life. Am really glad about that.

How will you in few words describe your experience of reading law at Bola Ajibola College of Law?

The College is one of the best in Nigeria because it exposes you to all aspect of Law. I can say through internal and external competition, I have been involved in the school and inter-university competitive practice of law even before going to the Nigerian Law School and into professional law practice.

The College has raised a standard that make you proud of been a law student. Bola Ajibola College of Law is just perfect to in several respects. I am fulfilled as a law student and now graduate.

How do you feel knowing you are done with studies and set to proceed to Nigerian Law School?

I feel excited and at the same time I feel sad that am not a Crescent student anymore though I am now an alumnus. Am going to miss a lot of people and everything generally.

What is your advice for upcoming law students?

I say to them don’t get distracted. Make good use of every single opportunity that comes your way. The College exposes it’s students to lot of opportunities both internally and externally. The best way to grow yourself as a law student is not letting opportunities pass you by.

What are your plans and professional aspirations moving forward?

Well!! My plan is to go to law school and come out as one of the best, then pursue my postgraduate studies. Thereafter move on with my career as a lawyer. Push up the same energy with the way I have grown myself from here and carve a niche in the profession and outside world.

Miss Ayomide A. Abiodun, ACArb, Past Vice President LAWSAN

How challenging was your final year due to covid-19 and the joy of being able to go through virtual learning?

It was hard struggling home affairs with school because you get distracted. However. I was glad the school engaged us in online classes throughout he lockdown period. We did lots of assignments and presentations. The school is growing and the digitalization and virtual learning innovation is quite commendable.

What was your joy in being able to return to school for second semester examinations?

I was excited because I know I would be more serious in school since I am able to focus fully. The joy of being with my classmates and doing everything together was something I looked forward to and am happy about.

What has been your general experience in Crescent University?

Studying in Crescent is exciting because you meet people from different background working together to become better. I can say am not the person I was five years ago. Am growing to be better, more matured, growing to learn a lot and to be honest studying in this school has contributed to that.

How will you in few words describe the experience of reading law in Bola Ajibola College of Law?

 I would say delightful because studying law in BACOLAW has been good. When I get to meet my colleagues from other universities, I see myself standing shoulder to shoulder with them. I  attended a scholarship exam were I moved to the final round. From all the law faculties and colleges in Nigeria, 20 students were selected and I got to the final selection round. So Bacolaw is at par with other schools. We have amazing lecturers who are anxious to contribute to your growth.

I  became an associate member of Chartered Institute of Arbitrators at Crescent University and that not something you get everywhere. Am really happy I came to this school and I finished from here. Am proud to be a product of Bacolaw.

How do you feel knowing you are done with studies and set to graduate and head for Nigerian Law School for professional training?

Am full of mixed feelings. Am happy to begin another phase of my life but then am kind of sad because am going to miss a lot of people. I know am ready to get on the new chapter and am hopeful to make the College and the school proud.

What is your advice for upcoming law students?

I advise that they work hard, pray and believe in themselves. Don’t get discourage, be your best, do your thing and leave; and most importantly, don’t cheat in examination.

What are your plans and professional aspirations moving forward?

By the Grace of God I want to go for Masters in Law programme, and then get a doctorate degree. I want to get into the academia because I love teaching, I want to teach part-time and also work in a Corporate firm. Hopefully one of the top firm in the world.

Mr. Jimoh Habeed, ACArb. Secretary Nigerian Society of International Law. Crescent University Branch President LAWSAN 2019/2020

How challenging is the year for you due to Covid-19 and the joy of being able to go through virtual learning?

It has been so challenging adapting to virtual learning which isn’t the usual way. At first it was very difficult to adapt but at the long run I coped.

What is your joy of being able to return to school for second semester examination?

To some extent I was very happy in the sense I have been wanting to graduate. It wasn’t easy learning online so coming back to learn physically made me happy.

What has been your general experience in Crescent University?

Personally, the academic aspect in Crescent has imparted a lot in me as well as the extra curriculum activities. I thank God I was able to merge both together. It was a wonderful experience.

How will you in few words describe your experience of reading law in Bola Ajibola College of Law?

BACOLAW is indeed a special experience. The environment, lecturers have been supportive and thoughtful. Infact most of them play parenting role to me and that made it interesting.

How do you feel knowing you are done and set to graduate and proceed to Nigerian Law School for professional training?

 I wouldn’t say am free because the challenges ahead is more than what have experienced here since law school is a different and entire system, but the experience I have gather here will prepare me to face challenges in the nearest future, most especially law school and practice in general.

What your advice for upcoming Law students?

They need to be steadfast. Infact dedication is the key because it involves reading, practicing and most importantly prayers. These are the basic element in order to survive legal practice in general.

What are your plans and professional aspirations moving forward?

In five years time, I see myself as a Corporate lawyer working in at least one of the big law firms. (Aluko & Oyebode, Banwo& Ighodalo, Olaniwun & Ajayi, Udo Udoma and Templars) Law firm in Nigeria and probably in another African .

Mustapha Boluwatife Alogba, ACArb. President Human Rights Society.

How challenging is the year for you due to Covid-19 and the joy of being able to go through virtual learning?

It is a good thing for me since I was in hospital for 6 month because of injuries from a car accident. If not for Covid-19, and the lockdown, I would have missed the final rexaminations initially scheduled for June and would not haven graduated this year. So it an advantage on my side. It is another phase of life.

What is your joy of being able to return to school for second semester examinations?

Coming back to school is really good. So, I was happy since I will was able to have group  academic discussions with my colleagues to cover missed classes while I was in hospital. It was really helpful to me.

What has been your general experience in Crescent University?

We just have to abide to lot of laws and adjusting with my courses wasn’t easy but I experience a lot.

How will you in few words describe your experience of reading Law in Bola Ajibola College of Law?

I don’t regret been a law student in BACOLAW. The lecturers are supportive. My stay here wasn’t easy financially but along the line am thankful.

How do you feel knowing you are done and set to graduate for Law school?

Nothing special, because if you don’t tell someone you are a graduate they won’t know but all the same, it is good to know am free from Crescent University and leaving with a degree in law.

What your advice for upcoming Law Students?

Please respect your lecturers, because I had similar experience. Respect and hard work makes the five year journey easier. Attend classes and face your study, pass through school and engage in Lawsan activities and other extra curricula activities.

What are your plans and professional aspirations moving forward?

Am not the litigation type of person, but if I want to practice, I will go for Corporate Law or work for Electoral Commission or any other corporate organization.

Miss Zainab T. Shittu, ACArb. Chairman of the Moot and Mock Committee.

How challenging is the year for you due to Covid-19 and and the joy of being able to go through virtual learning?

The covid 19 period wasn’t easy. I experienced a lot both good and bad. All I can say is Alhamdulillah.

The virtual learning wasn’t easy because we aren’t use to it but later on it was interesting and I was happy we finished the curriculum before we resumed.

What is your joy to return to school for second semester examination?

I was happy to hear about the resumption date, I love that I was able to see my friends, lecturers, receive lectures and most especially to write my final examinations.

What has been your general experience in Crescent University?

Crescent University is a great school and am glad I came to this school to study law.

How will you describe your experience of reading law in Bola Ajibola College of Law?

Bola Ajibola College of Law is very good and we have excellent lecturers. Am happy I learnt a lot in the College. We have chambers attachment and I as the Chairman of the Moot and Mock Commmitte, I went for competitions, met a good number of lawyers, Senior Advocates of Nigeria and am happy I experienced all in this school as a law student.

How do you feel knowing you are done and set to graduate for Law school?

Am excited to be done and I can’t wait for the next phase which is to resume in Nigerian Law School for the one year professional training.

What is your advice for upcoming Law students?

I advice them to keep pushing, dedicate time to study, practice a lot because the practical aspect of law is very important, go for competitions and most importantly join the Moot and Mock Committee.

What are your plans and professional aspirations moving forward?

Law School first, but before then I want to major in business and after Law School get my Masters in Law degree. I want to work in one of the top law firm in Nigeria. It is my dream to take the Silk and become a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

Mr. Ogunbunmi Olalekan Opeoluwa, ACArb.

How challenging is the year for you due to Covid-19 and the joy of being able to go through virtual learning?

Sincerely, it is challenging because it wasn’t expected. Well the virtual learning was good and I commend the school for that.

What is your joy of being able to return to school for second semester examinations?

I was excited to resume because I spent six months at home but all the same am glad we came back since is my final year.

What has been your general experience in Crescent University?

It been fantastic all the way, have been trained wonderfully and I commend the College and the university for that.

How will you in few words describe your experience of reading law in Bola Ajibola College of Law?

The College is very unique and complicated because studying law isn’t easy. BACOLAW is concerned with integrity and they give the very best.

How do you feel knowing you are done and set to graduate for Law School?

Am so fulfilled, it wasn’t easy but all the same I appreciate Allah for everything.

What is your advice for upcoming law students?

My advice to them is to be self dedicated, focus on your studies and know why you are here.

What is your plans and professional aspirations moving forward?

Going to Nigerian Law School, pursue my Masters in Law degree and go into law practice.

Mr. Aro Hassan, ACArb.

How challenging is the year for you due to Covid-19 and your joy of going through Virtual learning?

The sudden emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic really crippled the academic balance of the 2019/2020 session. In fact, the alternative approach to learning during this period was not really effective. The reason for my assertion is that, as good as virtual learning is, it is faced with some challenges which made it difficult for students to access. Some students find it very difficult to have access to internet connection which makes them absent from the class, thereby learning nothing for that period. While some students have been able to get the most out of this learning approach, others didn’t take a chance from it.

Another problem is that during continuous assessment, students find it very difficult to submit either because of poor internet connection or lapse of time. What would be the fate of these category of students in this instance? My opinion is that virtual learning actually helped during the pandemic, but yet, its challenges should also be examined in order to benefit those who do not have access to it.

What is your joy of being able to return to school for second semester examinations?

Verily, while other schools had their exams online, I expected that ours too would follow the trend. Surprisingly, the time table for the second semester examinations were released, which indicated that we would write our exams in school. Upon the announcement made by the federal government concerning resumption, I was glad that at least the 2019/2020 sesssion would finally come to an end.

What has been your general experience in Crescent University?

Studying in Crescent University has been a very tedious one. The rigours of registration, lecture hours among others. Verily the school has standard learning facilities, however, there is a limit to the social life of the students. Thus far, the university management does not engage the students in order understand and appreciate their challenges. This is quite essential to the development of the university.

Again, the fact that there are no shuttle buses or tricycle in the school has made movement from “uptown to downtown” very difficult. Sometimes, we need to urgently get to our various departments, the stress we go through in this instance is nothing to write home about. Thus, the need for adjustment in this aspect.

How will you in few words describe your experience of reading law in Bola Ajibola College of Law?

 Firstly, I’ll say it’s a privilege to have been a student of Bola Ajibola College of Law. The reason is not far fetched. The educational standards set by the college is second to none. However, it is quite important to lay emphasis on the fact that laziness does not fit into the style of the college. As such, hard work is the most important tool that you need to achieve success here. Although It was a tedious task but it was worth it.

Realistically, I was tutored by the best set of lecturers and it’s such an honour to have passed through their mentorship. The college is well equipped with a standard library which gives access to students to make further research on their courses. In addition, the E-library facilitates easy access to online materials.

BACOLAW has equipped me with the requisite skill needed to be a good law student!

How do you feel knowing you are done and set to graduate for law school?

I feel so happy and fulfilled because BACOLAW has equipped me with the requisite skills that I’ll eventually need out there. Definitely, I have no idea of how it may seem like but I’m courageous enough to pursue my dreams in the legal profession.

What is your advice for upcoming law students?

My advice for my junior colleagues is that they should abide by the rules of the college and the university rules generally. Most importantly, they should endeavour to study hard in order to have good grades. Although this is not meant to scare them or instill fear in them, but that is exactly what the course entails.

Again, they should be wary of the fact that they are different from students of other departments. As such, they should refrain from engaging in any activity that will prevent them from going to the law school.

What are your plans and professional aspirations moving forward? Actually I’m looking forward to acquiring other skills which will complement my legal career. Most importantly other emerging areas of law like entertainment, sports, music and others.

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