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NBA Decides 2020: The nationalistic fervour of Olumide Akpata’s candidacy

NBA Decides 2020: The nationalistic fervour of Olumide Akpata’s candidacy
July 01
15:10 2020

The recent volcano of support and endorsement of frontline candidate for the office of the president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Olumide Akpata, by Nigerians of all extractions have further given fillip to his near-divine aspiration as well as reassurance to many of those who put a stamp of support to his candidacy long before now.

With endorsements coming from the likes of former presidential candidate and former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Kingsley Moghalu; senior lawyer, businessman and entertainment law guru, Audu Maikori; Human Rights rights activist and social crusader, Segun Awosanya, policy expert, Dr. Joe Abah; tech aficionado, Dr. Aloy Chife; Rights lawyer, Abdul Mahmud popularly known as the Great Oracle; social crusader and Convener of Concerned Nigerians, comrade Deji Adeyanju; lawyer and TV sensation, Ebuka-Obi Uchendu, to keep the list short, and not forgetting the army of Nigerians who are not lawyers, it is becoming clearer that the Olumide Akpata Presidency is an idea whose time has come.

Senior Lawyer, and Learned Senior Advocate, Chief Adegboyega Solomon Awomolo, in his infamous letter described it as a “potent revolutionary force”. I think the Man with was right with the benefit of hindsight. After all, that the NBA is in dire need of such revolutionary sweep in the way it is being run, is to state the obvious. And if the Olumide Akpata Presidency guarantees that response, why not?

The heartwarming concern of Nigerians in this particular election (who appear to have taken ownership of the process), in a sense underscores the pivotal role lawyers play in a democratic state, particularly ours that has been buffeted with decades of social contradiction often manifesting itself in very ugly dimensions, namely corruption with impunity in government, disobedience by the executive arm to orders of courts of competent jurisdiction, abuse of human rights by state actors, police brutality, the list is endless.

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Dr. Aloy Chife, a tech entrepreneur recently in an instructive tweet, theorised the reason behind this sudden interest in who becomes the NBA president by Nigerians thus, “the judiciary and legal profession now serve as one of the deadly disease of Nigerian democracy“. And signed off by adding that “in a public health crisis, everyone fights pathogens“, in a way of saying that how the bench and the bar performs in any state is crucial to how the state performs socially, economically, politically and otherwise hence, the nationalistic concern. The only thing he didn’t add is that, it is only the Olumide Akpata candidacy that has been able to resurrect or re-awaken this national concern that has been asleep for years, if not dead.

How would this renewed interest by Nigerians matter in the grand scheme of things in the event Olumide Akpata emerges as the 30th NBA president? It is simple. It would elevate the office from one whose core mandate is the interest of its members, to one, acting as a stop gap between the government and the citizenry, thereby resuscitating the lost glory of the NBA in the perception of the average Nigerian and reconciling it with its salutary motto of promoting the rule of law. Let me quickly add that this also underscores the revolutionary halo of the Akpata candidacy. And rightly too.

Unfortunately, his competitors in this race for all the perceived punch they pack, are destitute of this force both in countenance and otherwise. As I argued elsewhere, while they’re ordinarily qualified to lead the NBA any other time, the demands of the office at this time tasks an Akpata kind of leadership, and I imagine that is why their respective campaigns have struggled for life and traction, both among lawyers and Nigerians at large. As I submitted at the time, different epoch calls for different kind of leadership.

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On more than one occasion, I have had to give them the benefit of the doubt by hearing them speak in articulation of their ideas for the association if elected, but all those efforts left me dampened, if not despondent. They did not impress with originality of ideas, or innovative thinking around the issues bedeviling the NBA. And the energy they radiated while at that, was anything but infectious. This is unacceptable to my mind, as I do not think the NBA can afford another sleepy Presidency, especially at this auspicious time.

Having embarked upon a dispassionate reassessment of the issues in the last couple of days, I am of the considered view that the NBA should not trade this fine moment of glory to be afforded by an Olumide Akpata Presidency with the reactionary forces tending towards the status quo, or any parochial and primitive considerations. If anything, the sudden and renewed interest of Nigerians in the NBA Presidency generally, and the Olumide Akpata candidacy particularly, should fix us with this obligation as we inch towards the polls.

Raymond Nkannebe, a legal practitioner, writes from Lagos. He tweets @raynkah.

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