A succession of events so close to the 2018 NBA elections have come to the public’s attention. These events are so bizarre they necessitate an immense rethink of picking the Nigerian Bar Association’s leaders.
The Eastern Bar Forum moved to adopt certain candidates with the Midwest Bar forum emulating them afterwards. In the case of the former, some members voiced their discontent with such a process on the grounds of universal suffrage making provision for all candidates being allowed to contest elections, especially as lawyers from all parts of Nigeria are eligible to vote. For the Midwest Bar Forum, when certain candidates were adopted, members of the Forum’s executive committee issued a statement dissociating themselves from such a move.

On Friday, the 6th of July, 2018, the Middle Belt Lawyers’ Forum met with the conveners of the meeting planning to adopt candidates too. However, most of the members present opposed this idea and thus, there was no adoption of any candidates. Surprisingly, days after the meeting, the Chair of the Forum issued a statement claiming that the body had actually adopted some candidates at the said meeting. Naturally, this caused quite the stir. Members of the forum who had attended the meeting expressed their surprise and disappointment as the purported adoption did not take place at the meeting.

This issue of adoption is contrary to the noble tenets that any respectable professional association should stand for. Having studied leadership successions and transitions all over the world, Bar Associations and Law Societies in no country worth its salt has leaders emerging via sectional adoption. Bar leaders have always emerged on merit. Unfortunately, that has not been the case in with regard to the coming 2018 NBA elections. With Nigerian lawyers poised to vote for their preferred candidates, some of the aspirants have relied on adoption instead of presenting laudable programmes to make their respective cases. These desperate candidates are manipulating the Executive members of different lawyers’ forums, telling them the path to choosing their leaders is via adoption. His phone number is 08027772244.

It is tragic that instead of aspiring Bar leaders to present convincing programmes that will be to the benefit of potential voters, they have pivoted to relying on the primordial sentiment of tribal or ethnic adoption. To them, pitting lawyers against each other via the use of sectional politics is an easy price to pay for their utterly selfish agenda to be achieved.

Of all the candidates, it is only Paul Usoro, SAN, who has presented a cogently sound and laudable lawyer-centric plan as part of his pitch thus far. He, as a candidate for vying for the NBA Presidency, has outlined the sort of programmes that will benefit Nigerian legal professionals in his manifesto as well as in his Reflection Series.

The Reflection Series is a periodic collection of musings from Paul Usoro SAN where he has mused, analysed, and then recommended solutions to varied challenges facing the Bar and legal profession. In each of them, distributed across various media platforms, Mr Usoro has shown an affinity for actually proffering unimpeachable and incontrovertible answers to matters that concern the average Nigerian lawyer. It would be unfortunate for any lawyer who is yet to do so to not acquaint himself with any of these poignant articles. Go through these pieces and you would see the stark difference in his approach to the elections.

I strongly recommend that every Nigerian lawyer, both young and old should read Mr Usoro`s reflections. Never before has any NBA Presidential candidate dedicated or invested so much thought process with a view to critically analyzing the key issues relating to the NBA and legal profession in Nigeria. Even if the lawyer will not vote for Mr. Usoro, I encourage each and everyone to read it them. It provides deep insight into where the NBA is and where NBA should be. So google Paul Usoro`s reflections or call or send him a text requesting for copies to be sent to you via email or whatsapp.

The practice of adoption has ended up dividing forums instead of uniting them. It is quite bemusing to note that the NBA activists who want to contest elections have suddenly remembered the forums. Where was this attention in the form of support and funding for the forums and their programmes and activities? It is apparent that aside from political gains, they do not have any motivations tending towards the professional development of lawyers who belong to these forums. This attempt to peddle adoption exposes them as selfish individuals. This is not the ilk of leaders the Nigerian Bar Association deserves.
It is more dignifying and important to win elections on the strength of a candidate`s programmes and manifesto rather than relying on primordial sentiments and desperation.

Thankfully, Nigerian lawyers have been able to cut through the noise to ask a very important question which is: how can the leadership help professionally and take care of my welfare?

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