Ebizi Eradiri is a young Bayelsan working at Templar, a law firm in Lagos. She is only 24 but she is taking law practice in Nigeria by storm, as if announcing her arrival on the scene with a compelling voice.
Only recently the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri hosted Ebizi, in the company of her father, Doupaye Eradiri, in his office in recognition of Ebizi’s academic brilliance, which culminated in her bagging a First Class degree in Law from the Niger Delta University (NDU) as well as at the Nigerian Law School, Lagos Campus. In this feature story, our reporter, Chris Odi tells us the story of her academic odyssey.
Bayelsa-born law graduate, Ebizi Blessing Eradiri may not have been born with a silver spoon in her mouth but she can audaciously dine with kings because she has washed her hands clean.
Ebizi has picked up every available academic laurel the educational system has to offer, culminating in her bagging a First Class degree in Law at the Niger Delta University (NDU), Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State and repeating the feat at the Nigerian Law School, Lagos Campus. She holds the enviable distinction of being the first female first-class graduand from the Law Faculty of Niger Delta University.
She was not an “accidental” first-class graduate; the signs had always been there right from her childhood. Her life is a story of laurels, laurels and more laurels. So, how did it all begin?
Ebizi, attended Christ Apostolic Church Nursery and Primary School, Port Harcourt, River State, where she emerged as the overall best student in primary three, four and five.
For her secondary education, Ebizi attended Emarid College, Harbour Road, Port Harcourt, where she took to Arts subjects. Again, she distinguished herself as she came out tops in Literature in English, Commerce and Government in the 2010/2011 academic session and capped it all by emerging the overall best Arts student in the school that year. It is worthy of note that she was the Deputy Senior Prefect of the College in the 2010/2011 academic session.
It was however at NDU, where she had her tertiary education that she blazed the trail by swooping every single academic laurel available for grabs at the Law Faculty. Ebizi had the best Grade Point Average (GPA) in the faculty in nine out of 10 semesters and coming second only once. In all, she had a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 4.75 on a 5 points scale.
Some of the academic laurels she picked up at the university and Law School include Pioneer Double First Class Lawyer Prize, Bayelsa State House of Assembly; 2020, Director General’s Prize for Attaining First Class at the Nigerian Law School, 2019; Barr. Collins Ebi Daniel’s Prize for Best Graduand in Law of Arbitration, 2016/2017 academic session, Niger Delta University; the late Madam Lyna Claud Enegesi’s Prize for Best Female Student in Law, 2016/2017 academic session, Niger Delta University and the Best Graduating Law Student, 2016/2017 academic session, Faculty of Law, Niger Delta University.
Other academic awards include the Dean’s Prize for Best Graduating Law Student, 2016/2017 academic session, Niger Delta University; Customary Court of Appeal, Bayelsa State Prize for Best Graduand in Faculty of Law, 2016/2017 academic session, Niger Delta University; Barr. Fedude Zimughan Prize for Best Graduating Student in Law, 2016/2017 academic session, Niger Delta University; Nduwa Prize for Overall Best Female Student, 2016/2017 academic session, Niger Delta University; Ministry of Education, Bayelsa State Prize for Overall Best Graduand, 2016/2017 academic session, Niger Delta University; Overall Best Graduand, 2016/2017 academic session, Niger Delta University, and the late Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, Ph.D. (JP)’s Prize for Best Graduand, 2016/2017 academic session, Niger Delta University,
Ebizi was also adjudged as the Most Disciplined Law Student, 2016/2017 academic session, Niger Delta University; Most Contributive Student in 500 Level, 2016/2017 academic session, Niger Delta University; Best Dressed Female Law Student, 2016/2017 academic session, Niger Delta University; Best Chamber Award, Justice Kate Abiri Chamber, 2016/2017 academic session, Niger Delta University and Award for Performance as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Law Students Association of Nigeria, 2016/2017 academic session, Niger Delta University.
She emerged as Intern of the Year, 2018 at Templar, where she is currently working as an Associate.
Perhaps, as evidence of her outstanding performance, Ebizi was selected to represent Nigeria at the Prof. Manfred Lach Moot Court Competition in South Africa, and at the end, her school, the Niger Delta University came out 4th overall in the competition.
In all, Ebizi has more than 50 academic laurels under her belt but she is not allowing her achievements to get into her head. When asked how she feels being the recipient of all these awards, the simple, humble and God-fearing young lady said “I am thankful to God, the Bayelsa State Government, and everyone who is part of my success story, including my family, friends, teachers, lecturers, mentors, colleagues, and Pastors”.
Reacting to her excellent performance at Law School, Lagos, Dean of the Law Faculty, Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State, Prof. Solomon Ebobra said “considering that we are a relatively young faculty with many challenges, it was a thing of joy and a real pleasure to hear the news that one of my students graduated with a first-class from the Nigerian Law School. We are really elated and proud”.
In her reaction, Ebizi’s aunty, Mrs. Zinake Vinani said “the Eradiri family feels profoundly elated, humbled and proud of her uncommon feat at the Nigerian Law School which has brought honour to her in particular and the family in general” while Thomas Peretu, a Law undergraduate at the Niger Delta University, who knows Ebizi very well said, “Ebizi Eradiri is the ambassador of the Faculty of Law, Niger Delta University and we are very proud of her achievements. She is an inspiration to all of us in the faculty”.
Twenty four-year-old Ebizi, from Agudama-Ekpetiama community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, is an intelligent, focused, hard working and friendly but firm young woman.
She describes herself as “an excellence-driven lawyer, passionate about academic and professional growth with enthusiasm to be a
renowned legal professional providing expert advice and solutions to local and international clients, as well as mentoring aspiring professionals”. She further describes herself as a gentle and serious-minded person.
The Dean, Faculty of Law, Ebobra sees her as “an achiever and a determined goal-getter; a focused and disciplined undergraduate student”.
As if declaring that Ebobra was too frugal with words in describing her, Ebizi’s aunty, Mrs. Vinani and Thomas Peretu, a Law undergraduate at NDU were more lavish in their description of the young lawyer. According to Vinani, “she’s an unassuming girl, humble, determined, hard-working, God-fearing, dependable and reliable, purposeful in pursuit and destined for success. She has a pleasant personality, quiet and focused, obedient and determined. She is a voracious reader and her achievement today is as a result of her uncommon passion for her studies”.
In his contribution, Peretu said, “while in school, Ebizi was a strict disciplinarian, who, as Chief Justice of the Law students, never shirked her responsibilities of chastising any student who fell foul of the rules and guidelines of the Law Faculty. She was friendly, approachable, and always ready to assist her fellow students with their studies, very articulate, studious
, and a committed, frontline member of the body of Christ in the faculty. She was a spectacle to behold in the mock court sessions in school”.
The young lawyer graduated as the overall best Arts student in her secondary school and had lots of courses to choose from so, why did she opt for Law? She said “I wanted to have a voice in society such that I would not face the discrimination and bullying I and others faced during my childhood. I knew Law would give me that voice and advantage, so I decided to go for Law”.
Asked if she found reading Law challenging and maybe nursed the idea of quitting at some point in time? She said studying Law is certainly challenging but she never thought of giving up, adding that the only time the idea ever crossed her mind was when she lost her best friend and reading mate of seven years, while they were at the Law School.
She said not only were they best friends but that they used to study together right from their days in year one at NDU. She said because of their closeness and how inseparable they were, some people thought they were siblings.
She was pained, frustrated, and almost gave up. According to her, “I was emotionally unstable and psychologically traumatised but with the help of God, my lecturers, my parents, friends, mentors, and family, I was able to scale through”.
When asked if she had any inkling she was going to make First Class at NDU, the confident and focused Ebizi said “before I gained admission to NDU, I desired to make first-class honours in law so I worked towards it from day one. For Law School as well, I was passionate about getting First Class Honours from my days in NDU. Before I got into Law School, I had already started making connections with successful senior colleagues from other Universities. I also got materials and attended some Law School tutorials where I interned at Templars, in Lagos”.
Responding to the same question, the Dean, Faculty of Law, Prof. Ebobra had this to say: “It’s difficult to spot a first-class student from the beginning because, in the first year, a lot of students do very well. It is only as students proceed that you are able to identify potential first-class students. I would say that we began to notice her from her third year”.
Ebizi’s aunty, Mrs. Zinake Vinani however deferred slightly from the Dean’s position concerning when they first noticed that she was a first-class material. According to Vinani, “we all saw her as a first-class material because from nursery school to her days in the university, nobody struggled for the first position with her”.
Surprisingly, in spite of her hectic reading schedule, her engagement in the Christian Law Students Association, NDU Chapter, her being a member, Academic Improvement Committee, Faculty of Law, Niger Delta University, 2014/2015 – 2015/2016 academic session, Chairperson, Legal Practitioners Privileges and Disciplinary Committee, NDU, 2016/2017 academic session as well as her being the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Law Students Association of Nigeria, NDU Chapter 2016/2017, according to her, she still had time to socialise and even do her catering business while at NDU.
Her philosophy of life is that anything that is worth doing is worth doing, not just well, but excellently well. She also holds the firm belief that “with God and a prodigious dose of determination, no feat is unattainable”.
Driven by this philosophy and an unquenchable desire not only to excel in academics but also to become a successful legal practitioner, Ebizi buried herself in her books, reading long hours, sometimes under strenuous conditions, as if her life depended on it.
Ebizi’s academic adventure is a testimony of doggedness and perseverance. In an interview with BBC, she said “God was with her because she nearly gave up her law studies due to financial challenges arising from her poor parental background. In the face of financial challenges, she resorted to small scale catering services, making snacks coupled with event decoration, to support herself”.
Another issue she had to contend with was that her university had no hostel for law students since the law Faculty was located in Yenagoa, far away from the main campus so, she ended up in “a cheap rented apartment in a robbery-prone neighborhood, with little or no electricity. Under that condition, she depended on rechargeable lamps and poorly lit room to read”. This, she said, caused her to develop a severe eye problem.
Yet another challenge was feeding. The Law School has a policy prohibiting students from cooking in the hostels. So, she had to resort to eating outside. Meanwhile, she grew not having the habit of eating out. This, according to her, was a huge problem because tried as she did she could not adjust to this new regime of eating out, and secondly, she could not always eat her choice of food. She said this exposed her to typhoid. She said she also had malaria a couple of times due to mosquitoes in the school premises.
According to her, “due to the long hours at the Lagos Campus of Law School, the uncertainty of break time, coupled with the rule against eating in class, I developed an ulcer and this really affected me in Law School”.
But all through, she said she was determined not to disappoint her poor parents, who made so much sacrifice to send her to school.
On enquiry if she had any regrets and would have done anything differently if she had to start her life all over again, she said “my regret is not taking learning languages and playing musical instruments as serious as I ought to when I was younger”.
Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, on Monday, January 11, 2021, hosted Ebizi in the company of her father, Boloupaye Eradiri in his office at Government House, Yenagoa, and in recognition of her outstanding performance at the Niger Delta University and Law School offered the lawyer scholarship up to PhD level to study in any part of the world as well as automatic employment to teach at the state-owned Niger Delta University. The governor also pronounced Ebizi as the New Face of the Bayelsa Girl Child.
Ebizi is indeed an amazon, a pacesetter, an icon, and a dogged fighter.
Against all odds, she shone like a thousand stars and became, not just the pride of her parents and her state, but now the pride of the entire Niger Delta region. It is not surprising therefore that Governor Diri, while receiving her in his office, charged the youths of Bayelsa to emulate the shining star, Ebizi Blessing Eradiri.
Ebizi’s aunty, Mrs. Vinani, sums it all up when she said as her niece’s middle name, Blessing, connotes, “she’s a blessing not only to her family but even to generations unborn. The girl child and even the boy child for that matter, will strive to be like her or even better”.