January 30, 2023

Remembering Justice Michael Ayorinde Borisade (1936-2002)

6 min read

There was a time in Nigeria that some top civil servants made working in the civil service attractive to the members of the younger generation who were considering a desirable career after school. One of the reasons behind the choice of civil service was the dignifying way those who got to the peak of their careers carried themselves, their persona, disciplined lifestyle and the professional manner they discharged their duties which made them to standout in their respective constituencies. As a matter of fact, my aspiration as a little boy growing in up in Ekiti in the 1960s and 1970s was to either join the civil service to become a permanent secretary or a school principal. One of the distinguished Ekiti men who inspired us was Honorable Justice Michael Ayorinde Borisade, a native of Iloro-Ekiti. He got to the peak of his career as a permanent secretary in the old Ondo-State, joined the bench on his appointment as a Judge and became the President of the National Industrial Court in 1998 where he served until his transition on September 2nd, 2002 at the age of 67 years. 

Justice M. A. Borisade was born on the 13th of November 1936 at Iloro-Ekiti. His father was Pa Afegbejoloro Borisade who was born into the Ibamukan family of Oke-Owa quarters in  Iloro-Ekiti, while his mother was Madam Abigail Dada Borisade, she was born into the Inurin family of Iloro-Ekiti. Pa Borisade had many wives and was a notable subsistence farmer, while his wife, Abigail was a tobacco trader and professional hairdresser with the nickname of Dada onidiri. She was noted as a pretty, tall and stately woman. Iloro-Ekiti is one of the communities in Ijero Local Government Area in Ekiti-State of Nigeria. After the humble beginning of young Ayorinde.

M.A. Borisade started his civil service career in 1964 when he got an appointment as an Administrative Officer with the government of old Western Nigeria. He served in various capacities, including Assistant Divisional Officer in Egbado Division in 1964-1965, Assistant Secretary (Finance and Personnel) in Military Governor’s Office in 1966 to 1967 and Divisional Officer/Sole Administrator of Owo and Ibadan Divisions in 1967 to 1969. He also served as Personnel Officer in the Public Service Commission of Western State in 1972 to 1975 and Secretary of the Western State Health Council in 1975 to 1976. in the village school, he gained admission to Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti in 1951 with the school number 51/028. He attended College of Law and Modern Languages, London where he obtained Bachelor of Law degree from London University in 1964. He also attended University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) and obtained Post-Graduate Diploma in Public Administration in 1966. He attended top management course at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh, USA in 1975 and Advanced Management Course at University of Stanford, INSEAD, France in 1978.

On creation of Ondo-State in 1976, he was appointed the first Secretary to the State Public Service Commission in 1976 to 1977. He was appointed Permanent Secretary of the General Administration and Public Service Matters in 1977 to 1979, NYSC State Committee in 1977 to 1979, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education in 1979 to 1980 and served as the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Political and Economic Department in 1980.

He attended Law School in 1980 to 1981 and was called to Bar in July 1981. Thereafter, he retired voluntarily from the old Ondo-State civil service. He was appointed a member the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) in 1981 and in April 1986 he was appointed a Judge of the National Industrial Court. On August 17th 1998, he was appointed the President the national Industrial Court. He was a Fellow and a visiting lecturer of the Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria.

He left a lasting commendable record in all the places where he worked. Those who worked with him attested to his attribute as a gentleman who lived a life of purposeful service to his fatherland and left a remarkable legacy. Justice P. A. Atilade, onetime President of the Industrial Court said about him, “he helped greatly the growth, development and stability of the Court. His deep knowledge of the law together with his keen and analytical mind contributed immensely to the judicial process of the Court.” His sense of justice and fairness in particular always led him to reflect the interests of all litigants in every action that came before him as the president of IAP.

For instance in a classical case reflecting his deep knowledge of the law and in the interest of justice to strike the right balance towards fostering industrial harmony he stated – “By the agreement of the parties, gratuity and redundancy schemes are mutually exclusive. No employee can benefit from both simultaneously. An employee can only benefit from only one of the schemes. Because the formula for calculating gratuity and redundancy benefits is not the same and the result from one formula would be different from that of the other even where the same number of years of service is in issue for both formulas, justice demands that an employee should enjoy the higher benefit of the two schemes”.

He was a consummate family man with a unique gift to relate with all ranks in the society. He got married at St Anne’s Church, Molete, Ibadan on December 24th 1966 to his heartthrob, Mrs Oyeyemi Borisade, nee Awodola. Mr Joseph Afolabi Awodola, the father of his wife worked administratively and closely with Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the old Western Region of Nigeria. Pa Awodola was a product of St. Gregory’s College, Ikoyi, Lagos. Mrs Yemi Borisade Borisade is an old student of St Anne’s College, Ibadan and a trained Secretary who worked in the governor’s office of old western region and Ondo-State civil service until her retirement. Her mother was Princess Adetolabo Awodola nee Alade, a Staff Nurse Midwife who spent most part of her career at Jericho Nursing Home and Adeoyo hospital Ibadan. Post retirement she was appointed pioneer matron of Federal Government Girl’s College, Akure where she served for a decade. The family Justice and Mrs M. A. Aborisade is blessed with children who have done well in their respective callings to the glory of God. In his lifetime, his kinsmen felt his presence and for doing them proud they honoured him with the chieftaincy title of the Balogun of Iloro-Ekiti.

It must be put on record that Honourable Justice M. A. Borisade was a passionate alumnus of Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti. This is a common attribute among virtually all men of his generation who attended the great school and later excelled in their respective careers.

He was in the forefront of the old students who in 1980 hosted the visit of Canon L. D. Mason, the Principal of the school from 1947-1966. As a matter of fact it was the first time I saw him in person. He was among old students who accompanied the past principal to the school when I was doing Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) course. He was also among alumni who sent their children to the school which underscores their commitment and belief in the huge legacy of the school. Two of his children, the twins in the junior class were with me in the same hostel (Babamboni House). Naturally I warmed up to his daughter Mrs Folusho Olaniyan OON when we met at University of Ilorin and got to know that she is the elder sister of the identical Borisade twins. The power and influence of Christ’s School bond is amazing and boundless.

One of his happiest days was when he walked his only daughter Folusho into Cathedral Church of Christ Marina, Lagos on her wedding day on January 14th 1989. He prayed to God to grant the grace of giving out his beloved daughter in marriage and to survive his beloved mother, God in His infinite mercy granted his request. To glory of God today, the family is blessed with ten grandchildren 

It is inspiring and commendable to see that the family he left behind had built a library in memory of their beloved father in their home town, Iloro-Ekiti which was commissioned by the Lord Bishop of Ekiti West Anglican Diocese, Rt. Rev. Adepoju on December 11th 2019. May God continue to bless the family and may the soul of the distinguished technocrat continue to rest in peace, amen.

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