Pelumi Adewumi graduated with first class in Law in the 2015/2016 academic session with 4.50 CGPA.
In this interview, he talks about what he has been up to since graduation and his experience as an undergraduate.
What have you been doing since you graduated?
I went to the law school for the compulsory one year programme, and since I finished the programme in 2017, I have been working in a law firm.
Do you recall what attracted you to law back then?
While I was young, I wanted to be a lot of things. I thought of being a medical doctor, then an accountant and then a footballer, to which I dedicated some time and efforts, thinking I would follow through in that direction. At some point, I also nursed the ambition of being a lawyer, but I dropped it. So, coming back to it, I must say, was divine. A lot of people, including my parents, always said that there would be no better course of study for me other than law, perhaps due to what they saw. Eventually, I decided to settle for law before I was done with high school, and ever since then, there has been no looking back. I also love the activism that is associated with the profession. I have always hated injustice especially as perpetrated by security and other state agencies, so I felt that being a part of this profession would afford me the opportunity to be able to effectively fight injustice in whatever form. I have started this in my own little way, even before I became a lawyer.
Since you started working, is there anything you would have loved to see in Nigeria’s legal system that is missing at the moment?
Yes, we need speedy dispensation of justice. Although Lagos State is doing well in this aspect, every other state has to follow suit so we could have it across the federation. That would restore people’s confidence in the judicial sector, and according to the popular saying, ‘justice delayed is justice denied.’ The executive, especially governors, must adequately fund the judiciary. Another issue of concern is compliance with court judgments, especially by the government, which needs to be improved upon.
Having learnt a lot about law, what excites you most about it?
The critical thinking it exposes one to is something I like so much. No matter what aspect of law you function in; litigation, corporate law, soliciting or whatever, critical thinking and adequate preparation are always necessary to be successful and respected.
How easy or challenging was it to graduate with a first class?
It wasn’t easy at all, considering the fact that the Faculty of Law, University of Jos, had not produced a first class for the past 26 years before I did. It’s easy to imagine how difficult it would have been. Our lecturers were not generous with marks and I guess that was why it took this long to produce a first class. And in general, UNIJOS does not produce a lot of first-class graduates. For instance, at its combined convocation in 2013, there were only nine first-class graduates. So, it took a lot of persistence, hard work and prayers to have made it.
Was making first class a plan you had at the outset or it was just hard work that paid off?
I didn’t really have such a plan, so I think hard work simply paid off, although, a lot of people, including members of my family, had always expressed the belief that I could make a first class. On one occasion, one of my lecturers, who doubled as our level coordinator, called me after a class and said that if I stepped up my game, I stood a very good chance of making first class, by his assessment. I guess that was one of the events that awoke my consciousness to the fact that I really could make it. Already, my first year CGPA almost hit the first class grade, but I didn’t make first class until my final year result was released.
Were there other things you would ascribe your success to, apart from hard work?
I guess I read like every other student did and I believe some even read more than I did, so I wouldn’t know the things I did differently. Of course, I had to go to classes even when I didn’t want to; read when I didn’t feel like and stayed awake a number of times even when I felt like sleeping. I couldn’t go on some outings because I needed to study or take care of some other more important things like my assignments, research and other academic duties. I couldn’t watch the movies I would have loved to. I also love to listen to music and the radio to keep me updated, but I had to switch them off a lot of times in order to study. I also wasn’t in a hurry to head home anytime we had break. These were some of the things I had to let go of to achieve success. However, I believe it was nothing more than God’s grace. I sincerely don’t think it would have been possible without God. To excel, I guess there are certain things one must get used to, like being disciplined and not losing focus; I kept my goal in view which was my driving force. I wouldn’t know if all these were different from what others did, but those were the things that helped.
Did you have any difficulty in securing admission to the university?
Yes, I did. As a matter of fact, I waited eight years before I secured admission. This made me register for a Diploma in Law programme within the period I waited and I sat the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination four times. This was in spite of the fact that I scored well and above the cut off marks for my intended course of study, scoring as high as 276 in one of those occasions. It was not easy at all, especially if you have no one to help as was the case with me. The admission in most universities, especially public ones, was not on merit. I really appreciate God for a supportive family, especially my mother, Mrs. Glory Adewumi and my sister, Mrs. Ayobami Ilesanmi, who kept faith in me all through those dark moments of waiting and all through my years of studying.
What reading strategy worked for you?
I studied as much as I could per day, so I did not have a particular number of hours for studying. And I seldom used the library because the atmosphere appeared too tensed for me. I preferred a relaxed atmosphere, so my room was good enough for me. Meanwhile, beyond reading, I was a member of the University of Jos tennis team, so I went for training from time to time. I also remember the sporting activities I was actively engaged in while in elementary school. I was very fast on the tracks and I partook in several competitions.
For the benefit of students who see the course as too voluminous, and having to cite cases during exams, what method worked for you?
Some cases were easy to remember while others were not. What I did to remember them was to memorise at least two cases per point of law, so that I would remember at least one during tests and exams, although I rarely forgot any. I guess that was due to God’s empowerment and long practice. The same thing worked for remembering points and sections of the law. What I did was that I made sure I understood the principle of the law well enough, so it was difficult not remembering the points and sections or cases where these principles of the law were derived in the first place. One other thing was that I started reading at the beginning of the semester. By the time I was reading for exams, I was well prepared to answer any question and I used to enter the exam hall with confidence. What some students did was that they waited till it was time for exams before reading, and by so doing, they forgot what they had read in the exam hall and they would become tensed and jittery. Once this happens, they would find it difficult to regain their composure. In my view, the basic ingredients for success are discipline, focus, persistence and resilience, commitment, passion for your course and above all, faith in God.
Were there times you almost gave up on having first class?
Yes, I almost gave up after my fourth year. This was because my CGPA dropped and it really pushed me against the wall in such a way that it almost was humanly impossible to still make first class. To meet up, it meant I had to make parallel A’s in my final year. I almost gave up but I eventually reminded myself of the omnipotence of God, so I put my faith to action and by the time my result was out, it was amazing. I made all A’s and emerged with the first-class grade. I thank God every time I remember how I made my grade. It was nothing more than God’s grace because it was humanly impossible. Interestingly, I found that there was nothing as rewarding and encouraging as having one’s parents take pride in one’s successes and achievements. My mum, Glory Adewumi and my late dad, Sunday Adewumi, always had kind words for me. They constantly echoed the fact that I was going to emerge with a first class even before I got the grade. They were such an encouragement to me and I couldn’t have wished for better parents.
What part of law would you like to specialise in?
I would prefer to specialise in Corporate or International Law. I find Intellectual Property law interesting too. I like to be involved in litigation for a while but Corporate or International Law are areas where I intend to specialise.
Did you face any challenge in school?
The only challenge worthy of mention was the security situation in Jos then; the security situation in the state was very volatile at that time. There was a time a bomb was detonated in front of the university’s gate while we were writing an exam. We saw corpses as we went home that evening and we still had to write another paper the following morning. That wasn’t a pleasant experience for me at all.
What other memorable moments do you remember?
The most exciting moment I can remember asides when I got my final result was when my level coordinator, who was one of our lecturers, asked me a question in class and after I answered it correctly, he expressed surprise and said that I didn’t cease to amaze him. He also said that I behaved as though I was not a member of the class. He meant that on a positive note obviously.
An embarrassing moment was when another lecturer asked a question and after I got it wrong, he exclaimed ‘Chineke’. However, on another occasion, the same lecturer asked another question and put a prize on it, and I answered correctly. He gave me the prize.
What are your immediate plans and aspirations?
I have something up my sleeves and I would just let God take me through as He deems fit. By the way, I just got enrolled as Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court and I hope to consolidate on that. – Culled from Punch.