Chiamaka Obiadi wanted to be a petrochemical engineer. But, one morning in her final year in secondary school, the dedicated science student decided she was going to study law. The 2015 alumnus of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka (UNIZIK) reveals why she was sad to make double Second Class Upper.
I am Chiamaka Obiadi. I’m from Neni in Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra State. My parents are teachers. Being the last child and the only
girl with four elder brothers, people easily assume I had it rosy. (Laughs).
My mother is quite the disciplinarian. However, in retrospect, I would say her approach helped to shape me to the woman I’m becoming today. I lost my dad when I was barely two, so, I have no memories of him. But from all I’ve been told, we have a lot in common. He was an academic to the core, read voraciously and had a strong personality!
I attended the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka (UNIZIK) and graduated in July 2015 with a Second Class Upper (2.1). I also finished with a Second Class Upper at the Nigerian Law School, Abuja campus in September 2016, a very ‘painful’ result at the time.
I wanted to be a Petrochemical Engineer
Interestingly, I was a science student and performed well in the core science courses, especially chemistry. I wanted to be a Petrochemical Engineer (Laughs). But when I assessed that my strength in mathematics may not sustain that ambition, I had a dilemma in choosing between Pharmacy and Medicine.
Why I switched from sciences to arts
The decision to study law was really what I can attribute to divine providence. I considered several things before making the choice, including the fact that I write well, I have a good command of English and had represented my secondary school in numerous debates where I excelled. Also, I never had a genuine interest in medical studies beyond that it was what most bright science students were expected to study. So, I felt I could as well take things a notch higher. So, I woke up one morning, a few days to the deadline for the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) registration, and told my mother I was switching to arts because I wanted to study law. She was quite supportive and came over to school to facilitate things for me. A lot of intensive studying to catch up and readjustments to the Art curriculum, and the rest is history.
Call to Bar
It was hugely celebrated. Everyone contributed their quota. My mother was at the forefront of all the preparations and ensured I had a grand one. My family travelled from different cities to Abuja just to be there and I haven’t felt more honoured. Two aunts of mine surprised me that day. In fact, they were more excited than I was and I always like to say that they, together with the friends that have stuck with me over the years, are the winds beneath my sail.
I was sad to make a Second Class Upper
Law school was a very robust experience and very instrumental to my formation. I’ll always cherish it. I was very active in group and class activities and, despite the intense academic workload, I accepted an appointment to the academics committee of the Students Representative Council and chaired the Civil Litigation team. I was also the Secretary, Catholic Students’ Association. I made quite a couple of friends and acquaintances and I was quite visible in class, so the pressure to make a First Class was high. Already I was aiming for and working towards it, so, I sincerely felt down when the result came out and I made a 2.1. More so, my breakdown showed I got a 4As and 1B+ so it was a narrow miss. But in all, the experiences were richly rewarding and I would not trade them for anything.
Law school marking scheme is reasonably fair
In all sincerity, the marking scheme can work great ‘injustice’ especially when one’s lowest grade makes a great difference in what one would ordinarily make. But what really is justice? If a set of people can satisfy the strict requirements for making a particular grade under the same environment, then it’s reasonably fair. Again, I’m of the school of thought that while examination may not be the best test of knowledge, until we devise a better means, we’re stuck with it.
Most memorable day in court
This was the day I was commended by one of the stern judges of the Abuja High Court. I appeared alone against a very senior counsel and I strongly opposed his application to recall a witness. My argument was upheld. In fact, counsel joined my Lord in expressing his satisfaction at my performance.
Marrying a lawyer
Before now, I would have screamed an unequivocal no (Laughs). Presently, I wouldn’t mind at all. I believe lawyers understand themselves well and I know more than a handful that run successful homes. But being a lawyer will not give the prospective Mr. Right an edge anyway.
Day a judge called me unserious
My most embarrassing day in court? A judge once called me unserious because I filed a Final Written Address way out of time even after complying with the Rules by paying the default fees. I felt terrible.
What I would change about law
I would rather change a few things about the court system such as revamping the system of filing to make it seamless and creating an efficient communication system for Court Registrars to ensure that the time of lawyers and litigants is not wasted.
Salary can hardly make you comfortable
Remuneration is a general problem (for young lawyers) especially in this field, and being that firms are private establishments, there’s only so much regulation that can be made to improve the pay system. But they can do better regardless.
However, the home truth we shouldn’t lose sight of is that salary is hardly enough to make one very comfortable financially. As a National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) Associate, I was able to make do with my monthly salary and allowance, including the small fees earned from Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) briefs. With the service year being over, I see more prospects to earn better.
My plan is a continuum. So, I’ll continue to fine-tune and streamline the ones already made. In the nearest future though, I’m starting a successful business, continuing with law practice, getting an LLM in Tax/IT/Commercial Law and championing social causes, particularly girl child empowerment and making education accessible for pupils in rural areas.