*He says Another Problem Is that the NBA Constitutional amendments in 2014 – 2016 created a lopsided voting in favour of Lawyers between 1 and 10 years at the Bar, who naturally preferred younger candidates to lead the Bar
The former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Joseph Daudu, SAN, has said that problem in NBA is not one of systemic corruption but desire and competition to lead the Bar
He said this during an interactive session with newsmen when asked on the reasons behind corruption, electoral disaffection in the Association despite universal suffrage and the ongoing prosecutions over rigging of 2018 elections.
He advised that any candidate for the office of NBA President must deliver concrete manifesto and proposals for his 2 year tenure, should he eventually win.
“…in answer to your question, the problem in NBA is not one of systemic corruption. It is not that elected leaders want to tamper with the Association’s resources, or that the Association has such magnitude of resources as to make that the attraction for leadership. No. the desire and competition to lead the Bar stems from only one factor, and that is to lead the world’s most enlightened and learned group. That the President is primus inter pares among or within the community of learned people, is, in my view, the motivating factor to aspire to that office. Consequently, any candidate for the office of NBA President must deliver concrete manifesto and proposals for his 2 year tenure, should he eventually win.
“It is still one of those offices that you must establish a wide knowledge of the state of affairs, in both the legal profession and Nigeria as an entity. The Bar must always be seen as the bastion and protector of the Rule of law, and its leadership must not be shy of speaking truth to the powers that be. The President of the NBA must be proactive in such matters as (a) criminal justice reforms, (b) fundamental human rights, (c) Gender and vulnerable people’s rights, (d) intergovernmental relationships and (e) the organogram and governance mechanism of the Bar’s secretariat and all its branches. Why then should these altruistic duties pose any problem, in selecting suitable candidates to discharge such onerous and thankless duties? The answer is that, there is usually a welter of qualified candidates from which to draw.” he said
He added that the problem in NBA is generational and most lawyers called to bar from 2010 do not identify with Branches of the Association anymore.
The learned silk faulted the constitutional amendment of NBA which took place during the tenure of President Austin Alegeh, SAN (2014-2016). According to him, it introduced lopsided voting in favour of Lawyers between 1 and 10 years at the Bar, who naturally preferred younger candidates to lead the Bar.
He said such universal suffrage is the cause of friction within the Association. He however expressed confidence that the committee set up by the incumbent president, Olumide Akpata, will proffer workable solutions
He said, “The problem in the past 10 years surprisingly, is clearly generational. In the NBA, the primary or basic unit of entry into Bar political activities is the Branch. Consequently, in the past, anyone who is able to persuade his colleagues through the Branches would surely emerge successful or victorious as NBA President. Now, it is not in doubt that majority of legal practitioners called to the Bar from the period 2010-2020, do not belong to or identify with the NBA branches. They are lone rangers.
“This is discernible from the membership population of the branches vis-a-vis the total number of practitioners called during this period. Consequently, up till the year 2016, these branchless Lawyers were not able to participate in the delegate system which was reserved for Bar insiders. However, upon the amendment of the NBA Constitution during the tenure of President Austin Alegeh (2014-2016), election of National Officers was thrown open through universal suffrage – meaning every Lawyer called to the Nigerian Bar now possessed, subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions, the unqualified right to vote at the Associations biennial elections. Consequently, the population of the universal suffrage Lawyers now outstripped those of their conservative colleagues, who had to bide their time going through the branch hierarchy.
“The said NBA Constitutional amendments created a lopsided voting base in favour of Lawyers between 1 and 10 years at the Bar, who naturally preferred younger candidates to lead the Bar. It is the dynamics of getting as many of this latter category to vote that brings about campaign and electoral strategies which have created the friction that you have referred to, as marring all those elections held post the afore-described constitutional amendments. As I said above, a high-powered Panel is looking into the matter, and I am confident it will come out with workable proposals to resolve the conundrum.”
J. B. Daudu disagreed with the view that NBA leadership had lost focus in the past few years. According to him, every administration comes a different perspective and issues that are dominant or prevalent, at the time of its operations.
“I respectfully disagree that the NBA leadership lost focus, at any point in time. Leadership styles differ. With every administration comes a different perspective and issues that are dominant or prevalent, at the time of its operations. More so, a President of the Bar comes into office grappling with the issues he campaigned to resolve for the good of the Bar and the nation. Most of these issues are Justice sector and Rule of law related. I know that no President of the NBA, has ever been fingered as having sold out to Government. The current President of the Bar, Olumide Akpata, campaigned on a specific set of issues, principal of which are (a) welfare of all legal practitioners with emphasis on young Lawyers, (b) Secretariat reforms and (c) ensuring that the voice of the Bar is heard on issues of critical national interest. So far, I am satisfied that the President has lived up to his Billing, and can only wish him God’s guidance and wisdom in piloting the affairs of the NBA during his tenure.” he said
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