Law and The Economy

Ucheakonam Chijioke Joshua, OAU’s Best Law Graduate In 60 Years

Ucheakonam Chijioke Joshua is a First-Class Graduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University. He completed his programme as the Best Graduating Student in a class of 378 students and obtained the highest CGPA recorded in six decades since the inception of the faculty of law at OAU. He also bagged 12 Academic prizes making him the Most Awarded Student in OAU for his graduating year.

As an undergraduate, he interned in some of the top firms in Nigeria and also served as the Registrar of the House of Lords and the Assistant Secretary-General of the International Law Students Association. He also represented the faculty in several moot and mock competitions one of which is the Philip.C. Jessup international moot competition. Chijioke is keen on smart work and he loves movies.

Good Evening Mr. Chijioke, what was your CGPA?

Good evening. I finished with a Cumulative Grade Point Aggregate of 4.78/5.0

What’s the feeling like? Creating a record in the 1-year-old faculty?

The faculty is 60 years old actually. I would say it’s an amazing feeling, although it did not come as a surprise to me. By God’s grace, I was fortunate to have a strong CGPA early enough and that helped me know that I was on the verge of setting a new record. In all, I am happy and grateful that God helped me pull through.

Why law? What was your motivation to study law? 

Well, for me, it was not the case that I dreamt of being a lawyer from my childhood. It was just a pursuit that came to me during my final days in secondary school. I believed I had the mental capacity to chase this profession and I have been on the course to do it. In the long run, my motivation was birthed when I saw what lawyers could do both in Nigeria and beyond in creating a mark and defending the common man, and I sought to do this also. This has kept me going on the path.

Then, why OAU?

It is no news that OAU is a center of excellence. I wanted to build my academic trajectory in a university of repute and OAU was the only place I could think of back then. It was much easier since I completed my pre-degree program at OAU and had better access to study law in OAU.

Talk about your journey as a Law student. Your other involvements, internships, etc

It’s been a rollercoaster. From competitions to internships and extracurricular activities. The quest to be an all-around student was not an easy task but a pursuit that needed to be done. Moreover, education should not be only within the four walls of the classroom. Regarding competition, I was able to participate in numerous essay competitions as well as moot and mock trials which allowed me to compete and interact with colleagues from other universities. I served in my student society and was also able to intern at some top firms in Nigeria. All these have been the formative process of my academic success and I am glad they came to play in my 5-year academic journey. 

What would you say were your guiding principles throughout your days on campus?

I think one of the best factors is understanding yourself. It’s a bigger factor than prominence being accorded. I was able to know my abilities and how to play them to my Favour. I believe in smart work rather than just hard work and so I was able to understand when I needed to sleep and when to read, what to read and what to discard. This helped me succeed in many of my exams.

Do you plan to practice in Nigeria?

Well, this is a question anyone close to me can answer. It’s my ultimate goal to leave Nigeria. I would qualify in Nigeria, but I do not want to begin my career in Nigeria. I look forward to working in prominent firms beyond the continent. Perhaps, in the future, I could lend my experience to building Nigeria’s legal system.

Also Read: 180 Days As ASUU Hostages: How Nigeria Can Break

The question was borne of the fact that we’ve been witnessing an exodus of lawyers just like it is with other professions in the country. 

Give us a sneak peek into your plans for the Nigerian Law School. Are your sights set on breaking new records?

Honestly, I always try to play safe by not setting so many goals. I leave it to God. Law school is a different ball game that is played against many brilliant students. There’s no hard and fast rule to succeeding in law school and I do not have any plans to beat the system. I want to do my best and leave the rest for God.

What would you describe as your most inspiring moment in OAU?

Despite my years in OAU, I really can’t say I had an inspiring moment. It has just been a mixture of good and bad times. I’m glad my road in Ife has come to an end.

Which lecturer inspired you the most?

I do not have a lecturer who inspired me the most, however, I had lecturers who made my journey worthwhile. The likes of Prof. A.O Yusuff, Mrs. Adejumo, Mrs. Abuloye, and others. I am glad to have had them in my academic journey.

OAU’s Law used to have acclaim across West Africa as the school produced some of the most notable lawyers across Africa, what’s your thought on the state of the faculty now?

Unfortunately, we have had a significant decline in the faculty’s reputation. The state of affairs isn’t what it used to be and this is not unconnected from the poor attention accorded to education across the board. Nevertheless, I believe things will return to how they used to be with time.

What is responsible for the belief that things would return to how they used to be? Are there any signs?

At the moment, there are no signs. But sometimes, we can believe things even when they have not manifested. Thus, I am hopeful that things would change, maybe not today or tomorrow, but they would, hopefully.

Also Read: ASUU and University Funding: Is Student Loans the Answer ?

What did you do to have fun? Did you have like an active social life?

I am an ambivert, with higher introverted features. So I didn’t have so many activities. I attended parties a few times with my friends, watched football, played games, and had flings. Although all these were moderate since I am not so much of an outgoing person.

So, are there any offers while you wait for Law School?

Well, no direct offers for now, but there are implicit offers. For instance, a particular tier-one firm in Nigeria offers prizes to the best graduating students from OAU. Another firm offers law school scholarships and NYSC placement to BGS from Obafemi Awolowo University, UNN, UNILAG, and ABU. These are offers awaiting implicitly.

If you were made the attorney general of the Federation anytime in the future, what do you think needs to change about the legal system in Nigeria?

Nigeria is still backdated and has not advanced into the age of digitalization. This is one thing I would bring into place. Unlike our counterparts from developed countries, the legal system is burdened by a slow system of justice delivery. There is poor legal representation, congestion of prisons, and illegal detentions. I would look into these issues as much as I can.

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