NBA President Takes Oath of Office, Promises Electoral Reforms
The newly inaugurated National President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Olumide Akpata has called on his professional colleagues in the country to eschew every form of divisiveness and join hands with him in pursuing and realising the objectives of the association.
Akpata made the call shortly after he was sworn in as the 30th National President of the NBA.
He emerged winner of the July 29 and 30 NBA Election after defeating two other contestants who are members of the ‘Inner Bar’ (Senior Advocates of Nigeria), Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN and Mr. Dele Adesina SAN respectively.
Although Adesina had alleged manipulation of the entire electoral process and called for the cancellation of the poll, Ajibade however accepted the outcome and congratulated the winner.
Addressing members of the NBA in his first speech as NBA President, Akpata, in a no victor, no vanquished, posture sued for unity, noting that the task before him and his other executive was enormous and could only be achieved with the cooperation of all and sundry.
“It is apposite to begin the formal part of the address by tackling two major issues arising from the 2020 NBA election – the seeds of discord that were sown during the election campaigns and the issues pertaining to the election process itself.
“I am not oblivious of the cleavages that emerged during the campaign and the attempt to pitch senior members of the bar against their younger counterparts.
We were all witnesses to the widespread agitations against the holders of the enviable rank of Senior Advocates of Nigeria to the extent that some people were eagerly anticipating a revolution. In some ways, this was understandable, having regard to the issues that characterised the election and the uniqueness of my candidacy, being the first non-Senior Advocate of Nigeria to win an election as NBA President in thirty years. However, the elections are now over, and we must, of necessity, retrace our steps.
“The mandate that I have from Nigerian lawyers is to work for all members of the Bar irrespective of who they voted for. There is so much work to be done to revitalise our Bar and make it work for everyone without discrimination”, he said.
He described as unfortunate very recent events and agitations that had tended to divide the NBA along regional and religious lines, stressing that the Bar he intends to lead shall be one that is “united on all fronts and that recognises that our diversity is, perhaps, our greatest strength.