Towards the end of 2018, I made myself a promise: that I would sign up at a nearby gym in 2019. I made that promise after agonising about how another year had gone by without me taking any step towards bringing my fantasy body – with well chiseled abs and firm biceps – into reality.
I felt bad for not having acted on the plan to hit the gym in 2018 but at the same time, I remembered that Thessalonian injunction that we should give thanks in all things. It could have been worse, my tiny potbelly could have doubled into a barrel belly or something more sinister, what with all the late night eating I indulged in throughout 2018.
Reader, it is the end
of 2019 and I must tell you that I continued to eat late into the night and
entered a gym only once throughout the year. But you see, in all things, we
give thanks. At least, I finally got around entering an actual gym to make
inquiries and even lifted a small dumb bell while asking questions about
opening hours. In 2018, I stopped at the reception of Glover Court after
pouncing on their famous suya offering, to ask about their gym rates and
opening hours and neither stepped into the gym to inspect equipment nor return
to fill the registration form.
I have always been
fascinated about being physically fit and becoming a bit more bulky. Interestingly
however, my weight has hovered around the 67kg region for many years despite
various efforts to change the narrative. In some not too distant past, I
switched to a particular brand of pricey milk in the hope of adding weight but
that clearly did not work out. I decided on registering at a gym as one of my
goals for 2019 but I must confess I never stepped into one until the first week
in December. Clearly not good enough but in all things we give thanks, my
potbelly still bears semblance with a small pot and I managed to run around
Ikoyi a few times.
It was my birthday yesterday, April 2, 2019 and truth be told, I have not been so overwhelmed by an outpouring of love in such a long time or may be ever. When B called me on April 1 to ask me how I was feeling about my birthday as it approached, she was speaking from a place of concern and knowledge of how birthdays often led me down a contemplative path and ended with me being indifferent because I usually felt under-accomplished. So, when I told her I was indifferent about it, she retorted, “I would have been surprised if you had said anything else.”
We do not talk enough about mental health in Nigeria for many reasons, chief of which includes the stigma attached to mental health. Sadly, the more we shy away from discussing the issue, the more we leave people suffering in silence, which in some instances leads down the path of suicide. My friend, Ademola Bashir shares his thoughts on the issue and how to help. The lines below are Ademola’s.
Loved you at first sight And while distance might force us apart, You’ll always hold a place in my heart. I love your beauty, the ebony shine of it And the dark sheen of your hair And the glassy sparkle of your teeth And the mellisonant voice that melts my core.
The world is presently making efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus and put an end to the Covid-19 pandemic. As many have noted, the world as we knew it may have ended and upon successfully putting the Covid-19 pandemic behind us (which I hope is soonest), we would all have learnt how to do things differently.
Tell us a little bit about your company and why you set it up
Lawyard is a legal media and services platform that provides enlightenment and access to legal services to members of the public (individuals and businesses) while also availing lawyers of needed information on new trends and resources in various areas of practice. Whilst the platform started out with publishing legal essays contributed by lawyers within and outside Nigeria, Lawyard presently has various outputs such as the Lawyard Quarterly Journal (an electronic journal with top quality essays and interviews), the Lawyard Directory (a digital interface that provides connection services to members of the public seeking legal services), and the Lawyard Dialogue (an interactive show published on YouTube). Relatedly, Lawyard hosts offline engagements when necessary. Recently, the Lawyard Symposium on Privacy and Data Protection was organised in honour of recently demised Lawyard co-founder, Adavize Alao alongside a nationwide essay competition for young lawyers and law students.
I presume the opening line of a second installment in a series is perhaps the right place to offer appreciation for returnee readers, so, if you read 2019 Reflections (1), thank you!
Full disclosure: I did not coin the phrase, “Kàwé Ẹ́ – Readers are Leaders”. The Yoruba phrase “Kàwé Ẹ” translates as “Read (your book)” in English language and formed a musical part of the campaign slogan of Kawe Lucky, who contested (and won) for the position of President of the Law Students Society (LSS) at the Obafemi Awolowo University many years ago.
At least eight years have passed since that election but those words stuck with me and I thought of them as I reflected on the volume of reading I did (or failed to do) in 2019. I set out at the beginning of 2019 to unleash growth in multiple areas of my life and determined that I similarly needed to read more voraciously across divergent interests such as politics, religion, health, finance, investment, oil and gas, power and technology.
Whilst I set my mind on reading more all through the year, I did not set a target for a certain number of books to be read on a periodical basis. I had earlier come to the conclusion that there was a lot to read outside the ribs of books as the Internet had acquired the status of an unending book. The end goal was simply acquiring more knowledge and the journey to that destination could be through articles, journal publications, news reports, magazines and even the potentially distracting social media.
Looking back, it is hard to feel satisfied with the number of books I read in 2019. I possibly did no more than 15 books across various areas. However, I am excited by the number of insightful articles and newsletters I read daily. At a fair estimate of 4 articles a day, I possibly read over 1200 insightful materials in 2019. I also took a course on Financial Modelling at Edubridge Academy and one unfinished course on investment on Coursera. Clearly, there is a lot of room for improvement.
On a related note, I was particularly glad to see my friends publish their books this year. Of great delight was Chidozie Akakuru’s Light Travels Slowly, a collection of essays, published electronically in April 2019. The book probes life and meaning, a thrilling display of Chidozie’s philosophical prowess, a glimpse of which I caught in the course of our brief stay at the NYSC orientation camp in Kaduna some years back.
The launch of Okezi Uwede-Meshack’s Diary of an Ibadan Lawyer in August 2019 was another moment of fulfilment for me. The book was the culmination of a three-year journey that began from a weekly column on Lawyard. Okezi was our most consistent contributor on Lawyard in our first year and I fondly remember staying up a number of times after long hours of Law School lectures so I could edit his captivating stories on living in Ibadan as a new wig serving his fatherland. His essays were spiced with life nuggets and I had to constantly seek for a balance between his didactic voice and his humorous side. Therefore, it was a pleasure to see Okezi take his effort further to publish the Diary of an Ibadan Lawyer under the Kawebooks imprint. You should get a copy for your reading pleasure, if you do not presently have one.
Nafisa Atiku published her captivating book, ‘Girls Just Want to Run’ in October 2019. Nafisa is a consistent crusader for equal opportunity in politics and in her first book, she draws on insight from working with policy advocacy institutions and her political background to identify both the need for and the methods by which Nigeria can benefit from increased participation of women in politics.
Do not ask me why I have not written a book. Earlier today, I glanced through the fiction manuscript I wrote during an ASUU strike in 2009 and chuckled. If you pressure me too much, I might just go Indie and unleash a novel from that manuscript. Whatever you see, may you have the courage to take.
The foregoing notwithstanding, I am convinced I could have read a little more than I did in 2019 and that is just what I will be doing in 2020. You should join me. God airpus help us!
Tobi Adebowale is a resourceful and driven lawyer working with the Energy & Natural Resources practice group of Banwo&Ighodalo where he advises on diverse oil and gas transactions including acquisition and divestment of assets, development and construction of petroleum refineries, investment in the various segments of the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) and Nigeria’s budding mining industry.
Prior to joining Banwo & Ighodalo, Tobi worked as an Associate with foremost commercial law firm, George Etomi & Partners where he advised on different aspects of Nigeria’s electricity value chain, investment in gaming, financing infrastructure, acquisition of content distribution licences and the launch of digital payments platforms.
As a lawyer, Tobi delights in using a combination of his knowledge of the law, industry insight and negotiation skills to bring about the best obtainable results for clients.
In 2015, Tobi started a law blog, Lawyard, which has grown to become one of Nigeria’s most popular legal information websites. He has also contributed research papers on Aviation, Health Litigation, and Water Resources to national and global journals including the International Law Office, Getting the Deal Through, and the World Bank’s Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) journals respectively.
Tobi has worked with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Section on Business Law and the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) on amendment of laws governing Nigeria’s business climate. He provided support to the Technical Committee on Conference Planning for the 2018 Annual General Conference of the NBA where he coordinated two sessions on Indigenous Operatorship of Oil and Gas Assets, and Disruptive Technology in Legal Education and Practice. He is also a member of the Continuing Legal Education & Mentorship committee of NBA Lagos Branch.
In his spare time, Tobi writes essays and poetry on law, politics and social relations.
I believe in a world where every man is able to create opportunities for his own success. It is my utmost desire to see a better Nigeria and a thriving African continent. We are the generation saddled by the circumstances of our birth and the opportunities availed us, with the task of thinking through and collaborating to address the infrastructure challenge of the continent, from Lagos to Limbe, from Maputo to Marrakech and from Niamey to Nairobi. As for me, I make a solemn promise to keep pushing the limits on this path.