A former General Secretary of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Barrister Afam Osigwe, has called on all members of the bar to rally round the new leadership of the body, so as to move the association forward and enhance its growth and development.
Osigwe who made the call in Abuja in an interview said what should be paramount in the minds of the lawyers now ought to be how to come up with ideas to assist the new leaders to pursue the cause of the legal profession in the country.
Last week, Barrister Olumide Akpata, a non Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) emerged winner of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) national elections, after defeating two other contestants who are SANs, making him the bar’s first non-SAN President in years.
Akpata won the election with 9,891 votes out of the total 18,256 ballots cast, while his closest rival, Babatunde Ajibade (SAN) polled 4,328 votes and Dele Adesina (SAN) polled 3,982 votes.
“Whenever a new leadership emerges in any associations all members irrespective of their preferences in the election that brought in the new leadership, are expected to rally round and support the new leadership. We are not like a society (or a political party) where those who lose in an election go into opposition. In the legal profession, we cannot afford to play life of politics every day. So, for me, it is more about the duty we owe to the profession and to its leadership. We should be able to proffer ideas on how best to lead the association and make for a better society,” the ex-NBA scribe posited.
On the emergence of a non-SAN as the president of the bar, the legal pundit said: “My view has always been simple and straightforward that the NBA constitution permits anybody whether SAN or non-SAN to be president. What is important is that the will of the people be allowed or be respected in an electoral process. So, if it is the desire of the majority of lawyers that a non-SAN be president, fine! The bar has always been led by senior advocates and non-senior advocates. And we have many senior advocates who led the bar and did well and we have many non-senior advocates who also led the bar and also did well. So, it doesn’t really matter your rank. What matters is the leadership ability of the person and what programme the person is coming to implement. Reducing it to the idea of SAN or non-SAN is missing the point and creating unnecessary division in the profession.”
Osigwe added that he expected the new NBA leaders to work hard to justify the confidence reposed in them by the members in the implementation of their proposed programmes and policies for which they were voted for.
He said: “I don’t have any particular expectation. Each of the candidates campaigned and presented their manifestoes and the members chose a particular person they want. My only expectation is that the person who won and the members of his exco should implement their manifestoes or policies which endeared them to the hearts of the lawyers and caused them to vote for them. So, I expect them to keep faith with their manifestoes which gained them the majority votes.”
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