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Mercy Omoyeni: The Urbane Lawyer

Interview News

Mercy Omoyeni: The Urbane Lawyer

Omoyeni's love for humanity and community development drove her to start Association of Intellectuals for the Development of Nigeria (AIDN).

Omoyeni’s love for humanity and community development drove her to start Association of Intellectuals for the Development of Nigeria (AIDN).

MERCY OMOYENI, senior partner, The Peak Chambers and wife of the former deputy governor, Ekiti State, tells FUNKE OSAE-BROWN about her life and how to build a better Nigeria.

After a couple of phone calls, we agreed to meet at her Norman Williams office located at Ikoyi. I was a little early for our appointment. I had to wait for her. Her receptionist ushered me to the waiting area. Before long, she showed up at the door. Clad in a white and black flower patterned jacket on a plain black skirt nothing about her gave her away as the wife of the former deputy governor of Ekiti State. She is always comfortable in her own skin as a barrister.

“Good morning, Funke”, I am sorry for keeping you waiting,” she exclaimed with her usual broad infectious smile. “I had thought I would be here ahead of you.” Her bag dangling on her shoulders, she placed it on the table before of us while she sat next to me. “Let’s go to my office upstairs,” she told me as she beckoned on someone to take her bag ahead. She won’t let anyone carry her second mini bag. “I don’t let anyone carry this for me, it is my bible,” she explained to me.

Omoyemi is not just religious but a practising Christian with a burning desire to teach people about how to apply biblical principles to daily living. Her love for humanity and community development drove her to start Association of Intellectuals for the Development of Nigeria (AIDN) when she was a student at the Nigerian Law School, Abuja.

“What it is all about is trying to sensitise the Nigerians that everybody has something to contribute to the development of the Nigerian state,” she tells me. “We always liken the case of Nigeria to that of a family. If you have a family of five children with a father and mother, if the mother or father is sick, one of the five children cannot afford to wait until the other four decide to do something. That child cannot afford to wait because she is her mum and she could have given birth to her alone.”

With the association Omoyeni hopes to organise seminars, conferences and workshops for economic empowerment and nation building.

With the association Omoyeni hopes to organise seminars, conferences and workshops for economic empowerment and nation building.

And so, the drive for a comprehensive development of Nigeria as a nation is the force behind the association formation. “The objective is to assist in using our profession, experience and knowledge to improve the lot of Nigeria. We also want to encourage intellectuals in the country to use our potentials to develop Nigeria. We hope to offer intercessory prayers for the nation. By the grace of God, to become the benchmark, yardstick and standard by which the good great Nigeria and Nigerians are measured. We want to empower Nigerians to discover and harness untapped treasures within and outside Nigeria, transform Nigerians to acquire knowledge useful to better their lot and the society.

“In addition, we want to transform Nigerians into people of integrity and honour who eschew evil and ungodliness employing the tools of honesty, selflessness, integrity, hard work, respect for the right and privilege of fellow Nigerians, self and others. We would like to empower Nigerians to have changed mind set and know that the task of nation building is the collective responsibility of one and all.”

With the association Omoyeni hopes to organise seminars, conferences and workshops for economic empowerment and nation building, to engage in charity and humanitarian services, to help the less privileged in the society. And also facilitate directly and indirectly facilities that are beneficial to Nigeria and her people, research centres, health centres, communication and information centers, road network, empowerment centre’s etc, working with associations of like minds in making Nigeria a better nation.

“If you are asked the question: ‘Do you love your mother?” The most likely answer will be ‘Yes of course’. If she is sick would you do everything to see that she is well and okay? The answer again, probably is another resounding yes. You will do all within your capacity to see to it that she is well and that she lives life to the fullest because she has been so wonderful to you from carrying you for nine months in her womb, all your growing years, all the denials she endured , will make you do all you can for her,” she says.
Omoyeni shares an interesting story about her experience at the Abuja Law School. The roads leading to the lecture halls were in bad shape. She mobilised young lawyers dressed in their black garments to fill the potholes with stones and gravel. Their action promoted the authorities to take action. Before long the entire road was put back in good shape.

“We can’t afford to leave everything to government,” she says. “Students who live in hostels without bathrooms, can come together contribute the money they use for buying bottles of soft drink to buy planks and blocks to build a bathroom for themselves. I am sure if the school authority see them take the step they will move in to help.”

She says the nation’s problem can be traced to selfishness

She says the nation’s problem can be traced to selfishness

According to her, this principle underlies her believe and comparison of a child’s love for a mother to that between a citizen and his motherland.

“Do you know that the kind of love that a child has for the mother can be likened to the kind of love you should have for your motherland?” she asks rhetorically. “Just as you have a mother and there is this close affinity between you and your mother so also a man is born in a land and born by the land. You share in your mother’s joy and her sorrow. As a child, you stand up for her and uphold her integrity. Nigeria stands in the same position as a mother; she needs as well as deserves our best. Just as you have only one mother, in the same vein, you have only one motherland.”

According to her, the nation’s problem can be traced to selfishness. “This selfishness is born out of the fact that it never really occur to people that Nigeria is yours irrespective of how many Nigerians there are. Just as your mother is your mother irrespective of whether she has five of you or just you. The moment we realise this similarity between our mother and Nigeria then the long awaited Nigeria dream will come alive. The solution is to change our mindset. This is what will bring about the change we want. The main ‘ingredient’ for the much desired change is selfishness.”

“Let us ask you and I will answer this question: ‘if you have a brother or sister, who does not treat your mother well, expresses no regard for your mother, will you make that the yardstick of how you treat your mother?’ I bet that the answer is a resounding no. As a matter of fact, I believe if you can, you will talk such a brother or sister to his or her senses. The reason why you will be so particular to see to it that no hurt or insult comes near mama is because she is your mother. Taking a cue from this, is exactly the way we should jealously guard the interest of Nigeria. We must start having a different perspective towards Nigeria and begin to enlighten all around us about the kind of treatment you want for (your mother) your motherland, your nation from now on.”

She argues that the Nigeria of our dream will come from an individually won war. “It will require a lot of the individual’s willpower to have and attain the Nigeria of our dream. It is time to drop for good, such attitudes as: ‘What are they doing with this country? What did they say? What are they up to?’ Believe this, the most important person in Nigeria is you. Forget about the ‘they and concentrate on ‘you. What you or I can do is what matters the most. When ‘you have taken the lead the ‘they will fall in line. If you or I honour our motherland and insist that she be honoured by one and all, brothers and sisters (i.e. fellow Nigerians), friends or foes (other nationalities) the same honour is automatically conferred on you or I. The honoured beautiful Nigeria follows you if she is well treated. As you lay and or allow your bed to be laid so you lie on it.”

She spends her weekend reading and developing herself.

She spends her weekend reading and developing herself.

In essence, Omoyeni says there are two things we must do as individuals. “You and I no longer dishonour Nigeria; nor allow such dishonour from any quarter. Ironically and unfortunately, the embarrassment that you and I face because of the sins of others cannot be over emphasised. Take for instance, if you have had the opportunity to travel out of Nigeria, as soon as the aircraft reaches its destination, the atmosphere is charged, the airport officials are at alert and extra measures are taken to check Nigerians thoroughly. This is because the unfortunate negative perception of Nigeria has over the years been exponentially exaggerated.

“This is expectedly worrisome as some other nationals simultaneously at the same airport are well treated because of their country’s favourable perception and disposition. I believe that many Nigerians have had this type of experience at one time or the other in many spheres of life the truth is that what you or I invest into Nigeria is what you or ­I get. The answer is to put in your best and I put in my best then we will ultimately positively impact the nation, And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you and your nation free The truth is that just as we should be grateful to our mother for allowing us to be born so also we should be grateful to Nigeria for allowing us to have an identity. It does not matter where you end your journey in Life; your root always follows you. It is wise to make it good.”

As a hardworking mother, wife and lawyer, Omoyeni says she spends her weekend reading and developing herself to become better at what she does.

“I love to study God’s word and apply the principle to my life. I am a pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, so I spend most of my free time reading,” she says. When it comes to style, Omoyeni loves it simple yet beneath that simplicity is a natural elegant look.


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