Besides partaking in the struggles, as one of the founders of Afenifere, to hound late General Sani Abacha into recognizing M.K.O Abiola as substantive president, a lot of the youth only began to know about Chief Bola Ige when he was appointed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo as Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the federation.
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Bola Ige’s name was further brought into the news, in the noughties, by two rather unfortunate events – his harassment at an event in Ile-Ife by louts believed to be loyal to Senator Iyiola Omisore, and his gory assassination in 2001.
However, knowing about that little portion of his time on earth would not do justice to the rise of a common young man from Esa-Oke who rose to enviable heights and the legacies which he left behind.
James Ajibola Idowu Adegoke Ige was born to parents from Esa-Oke, Osun State, on 13th September, 1930. On leaving Kaduna at the age of 13, Bola Ige attended Ibadan Grammar School between 1943 and 1948. He then went on to become part of the first set of students admitted into the University of Ibadan as it opened in 1948. Bola Ige proceeded to the University College, London to further his education and he graduated with a Law degree in 1959.
His leadership traits became manifest when he became the organizing secretary of the defunct Action Group in 1953, at the tender age of 23. Bola Ige went on to become co-secretary of the 18th Ecumenical Student Conference held at the University of Ohio, Athens Ohio, alongside Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. which took place between December 27, 1959 and January 2, 1960.
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During this time, Ige had the responsibility of co-organizing the World Ecumenical Conference by virtue of his being on the executive board of the World’s Students Christian Federation WSCF, from 1956. For both Ige and Martin Luther King, being an active part of these socially conscious Christian movements formed a chunk of their foundational political consciousness and participation in their respective countries.
While Ige was still enamoured with the Christian movement, he was also keeping an ear to the ground on the political realities and opportunities back home in Nigeria. Nigeria was on the verge of independence and issues in the politics of Western Region also intrigued him so much that he wrote opinion pieces in the dailies which eventually got the attention of the leaders of the Awolowo-led Action Group (AG).
Ige finally returned to Nigeria after fulfilling the latter part of his outstanding academic/professional obligations at the Inner Temple, Inns of Courts, in London, in 1960. Ige established his legal practice, ‘Bola Ige & Co’ in 1961, and later on became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in 1997.
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