Prof Yinka Omorogbe is an internationally recognized professor of energy law. Prof Yinka has an LL.B. from the Obafemi Awolowo University (University of Ife), Ile-Ife and an LL.M from the London School of Economics, University of London. Professor Yinka is a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (United kingdom).
In the year 1980, Prof Yinka Omorogbe started her legal career as a legal practitioner in Solomon Asemota & Co law firm. In 1983, She became a lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Benin. She became a senior lecturer in university of Lagos in 1990. She remained in University of Lagos until she was appointed in July 2002 as a professor of law of the University of Ibadan. Professor Yinka later became the Dean of the Faculty of Law, university of Ibadan for four year (2005 – 2009). After her role as a dean in January 2009, she was appointed as Secretary to the Corporation and Legal Adviser, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) a position she held until July 2011.
She is currently a research professor (Nabo Graham Douglas Distinguished Professor of Law) at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Abuja, Nigeria. Prof Omorogbe has several publications, including books, monographs, book chapters and articles in leading international journals. She is also a regular speaker at workshops and conferences internationally and within Nigeria.
Professor Omorogbe was a member of the two Oil and Gas Sector Reform Implementation Committees (OGIC I and II) established from 2000- 2006, and again in 2007. Within OGIC II she was the Chair, Legal Regulatory Committee (2000-2006) which produced the first Petroleum Industry Bill. She has several international and national affiliations including being a member of the Academic Advisory Group (AAG) of the section on Energy Environment and Natural Resources and Infrastructure Law (SEERIL) of the International Bar Association; Member, Legal Aspects of Sustainable Energy for All Community of Practice; Deputy President I, Nigerian Society of International Law; and Fellow, Nigerian Association of Energy Economics (FNAEE). She is a member of Council, Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State.
Check out Prof. Yinka’s Interview with Punchng.com
Your father was Nigerian while your mother was Sierra Leonean, what else can you say about your parents?
I was born in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. My dad, Samuel Ighodaro, was a lawyer and a member of the Action Group. He was the Iyase of Benin and a Minister of Health and Attorney General and Minister of Justice in the First Republic. My mum, Irene Ighodaro, was Sierra Leonean. She was a medical doctor who was in private practice her whole life and had a clinic in Nigeria.
What was your childhood like?
I had a happy childhood. My parents were professionals. Ibadan was a very nice place to grow up in and I used to go out with my mum. I attended the staff primary school at the University of Ibadan and also had my secondary school education in Ibadan. I was at Idia College, Benin, briefly. I studied law at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). I also attended the London School of Economics for my postgraduate degree. I practised in-between before I went for my postgraduate programme. I came back and moved into the university system where I have been almost all my life. I am on leave of absence from the Nigerian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, where I am a research professor. So, I have been in the academic world since 1983.
Would you say that you became a professor at an early age?
I didn’t become a professor at an early age; I became a professor at 45 and I’ve been a professor for 17 years. For me, 45 is not early at all.
Having been called to the Nigerian Bar 40 years ago, what was your experience as a female lawyer at that time?
There was nothing surprising about it (being a female lawyer in 1979) because of my background. My mother was a female medical doctor. And there were not many of them so I was always around educated women and interacted with them. So, it was not a big deal being a female lawyer because my mother’s niece was a lawyer long ago. I have been a head of department , a dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan. At the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, I have been the secretary to the corporation and legal adviser. So, male or female, you just go ahead and do the job; there is nothing that makes me feel that a woman can’t do something.
As a woman, were there challenges that almost made you give up on your aspirations?
I would say it would depend on what the aspiration was. But I think maybe not; I am very tenacious and I’m also pretty focused in a sense. I fix my eyes on my destination; I keep my eyes on the ball. It is actually very difficult for something to make me deviate from an objective. I generally will not pay any attention to whatever the distraction may be.
How did people in the state react to your appointment as an attorney general, especially as you are the first female AG in Edo State since 1999?
The position of an attorney general has been a bit of a male-dominated one; no woman has been a federal attorney general. Many states haven’t had female attorneys general. I think right now, out of the attorneys general in 36 states, only four may be women. So, it’s not traditionally a female portfolio.
In Edo State, I am actually the second female attorney general but people don’t know; they think I’m the first. There was a lady who was appointed by the military for about three months. I don’t know whether people were shocked because a female was appointed. But I always knew I was going to be an attorney general; I was never coming in as anything else.
One of the criticisms against the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, is that he allegedly appointed ‘foreigners’ into his cabinet. What’s your response to that?
Well, I don’t know about that. But I, certainly, am not (a foreigner). My father was the Iyase of Benin and I am from a very well-known, educated and respected family in Benin and my parents lived in Edo. So, by no means am I included in that (category of ‘foreigners’). If it applies to me, it might be because my first name is Yinka. Again, I am married to a respected and very well-known man in Benin. But I will put that (allegation) down to ignorance if I am the person they (critics) are talking about.