Encomiums were showered on Yusuf Asamu Olalere as he emerged and celebrated as the overall best graduating student at the Nigeria Law School, for 2019/2020 set. The brilliance-enabled young man claimed 12 prizes and awards as he was called to the largest bar in Africa as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria on 15th September, 2020 at Abuja, Nigeria.
Yusuf Olalere is not a stranger to the land of golden excellence. In fact, he can be described as a success-packed legal scholar who has been blazing trails in legal studies ;emerging as the overall best graduating student (male) at Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan in 2018.
In this exclusive interview with The Precision NG’s Bureau Chief in Ibadan, Oluwajuwonlo Afolabi, Olalere gave an exhibition of who he is, what the back-to-back success has been for him, and what the future holds.
Q: Good to meet you Barrister Yusuf Asamu, Can you tell the world something about you?
A: I am Yusuf Asamu Olalere from a family of four based in Lagos and Ibadan, and I recently graduated from the Nigeria Law School with a first class and awarded the best graduating student. This was sequel to the fact that I graduated from the University of Ibadan with a first class and as the overall best male graduating student.
Q: How do you feel about being announced and honoured as the best graduating student at the Nigeria Law School?
A: The feeling was that of fulfillment and a dream come true. I’ve always looked forward to standing out in everything I do. When I was announced, I didn’t believe it. I had to wait because I actually heard it two days earlier. I had to wait till the call to bar date. When I saw it, I gave thanks to God. It was a time of great fulfillment for me.
Q: What do you think of the prizes and awards given to you?
A: The prizes and awards were kind of reward for hardwork, and a fulfillment of God’s destiny in my life. So, I really thought it to be a great thing and a feedback from a system that is based on merits.
Q: What aspect of law do you find most fascinating?
A: Well, I wouldn’t say there is one aspect of law that is most fascinating. For me, every aspect of law fascinates me. Law is to me like an adventurous movie. I’m always eager to learn about new things and whenever new things come, I find them very interesting, fascinating, it’s more like watching a new movie, you’re seeing a blockbuster for the first time. Every aspect of law fascinates me, from litigation to transactions, capital market, corporate, civil litigation, criminal litigation. They are very fascinating that I won’t really say I have one to be the most fascinating aspect of law.
Q: Tell us about your secrets to success
A: I’m not sure there is any secret per se, because what I would say are things that are of public knowledge, most important is the grace of God. My journey so far, from primary, secondary school and gaining admission into the University of Ibadan to department of History, excelling in History and crossing over to Faculty of Law and eventually graduating as a top student in the Faculty of Law and top student in the Nigeria Law School has always been about the grace of God and the will of God, and apart from that, hardwork and consistency, being consistent and being intentional about success; here are my goals, aspirations and working towards them diligently. Also, adaptability, the ability to adapt to different circumstances, and situations that are not so good; probably converting the inhibitions to motivating factors. So, these have always been my desires, and these things are what I would say are my secrets to success. For instance, at the Nigeria Law School, despite the fact that the curriculum was quite bulky, and could be tiring, and of course you get tired; I had a very good support system and was always having a strong believe, and still do, that God has the best plan for me.
Q: Is law really your passion, if yes, why?
A: Yes, law has always been my passion right from childhood. I would say for the indirect factors, my late aunt, Late Mrs. Jejelola Ogunbonna nee Olalere was the Chief Magistrate of Oyo State Judiciary, and the kind of greatness she exuded and the fact that the Nigeria judicial system needs an overhaul. So, I am a kind of person who looks forward to giving in his bit to the development of humanity. I developed passion for law and it has always been. That was one of those things that influenced my decision ;despite the fact that History is a great course with lots of prospects too and that was why I crossed from Faculty of Arts, Department of History to the Faculty of Law.
Q: What do you think the future holds for legal practices in Nigeria?
A: I think the future holds a lot of promises and digital age, technology, as you can see that with the outbreak of Covid-19, we now have remote court hearings, remote filing of court processes. I think the legal profession is already adapting to the new norm. Whatever comes in the future, I see the legal profession adapting to it. We have new emerging areas of law. Law is pervasive; it’s close to every facets of human being and legal practice in Nigeria is towards that trends.
Q: What’s your dream as a legal practitioner?
A: I dream about being an excellent legal practitioner with not just a national outlook but internationally making impacts; having community services, engaging in transactions that aid national development. These are my dreams: participating in policy formulations and all.
Q: How do you encourage aspiring and emerging law students and lawyers amidst the downturn of values and morals in the society?
A: My advice to aspiring and emerging law students will be that irrespective of the circumstances, background you have, always dare to stand out; the only way to stand out is to be consistent while others are relaxing; to be adaptable, that is, you have to learn how to convert whatever may be a clog to your success, to convert them to motivating factors and work hard, and just know that irrespective of the system you find yourself, just know that the system is going to reward your hard work one day. And in the midst of the downturn of values and morals in the society, I”ll just say that when you have good morals, you have good values, and you’re standing by it, one day you”ll be rewarded. So, irrespective of what is going on around you, you should learn to adapt those circumstances to motivating factors. So, the fact that things are not so rosy in the society should not deter you from being a good person and stand out among the best. So, be diligent and you must be able to persevere. You should be hardworking, and of course you have to be with God; the God factor must be in everything you do. Thank you.
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The Precision NG took time to highlight some of the awards and prizes received by Yusuf Olalere are: Sir Adetokunbo Ademola G.C.O.N Award for the Overall Best Graduating Student in the Nigerian Law School, Dr. Taslim Elias G.C.O.N. SAN Award for the Overall Best Graduating Student in the Nigerian Law School and Justice Atanda Fatai-Williams G.C.O.N award for the Overall Best Graduating Student.
Others are Honourable Justice Slyvanus Ayere Award for the Most Promising Graduating Student., Director-General of Law School Prize for attaining First Class Grade, Sir Danley Alexander K. B. E. Award for the Overall Best Student in Property Law Practice, Justice Olumide Shomolu Award for the Overall Best Student in Civil Litigation, Sir Lionel Brett K.B.E Award for the Overall Best Student in Criminal Litigation, Babatunde Abiodun Ibironke SAN Award for the Overall Best Student in Criminal Litigation, Nigerian Bar Association Award for the Overall Best Graduating Male Student, Mallam Yusuf Alli SAN Award for the Overall Best Graduating Male Student and Council of Legal Education Star Prize for the Overall Best Student.
Other awards from the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan are: Vice Chancellor prize for First Class Students, Prize for Overall Best Graduating Male Student of the Faculty of Law, Folake Solanke Prize for Overall Best Student in Constitutional Law, The Council’s Prize for Overall Best Student in the Department of Public Law, 2nd Overall Best Student in the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan.