Former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL), Olumide Akpata has won the association’s presidential election with 9, 891 votes defeating two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Babatunde Ajibade and Dele Adesina, who polled 4,328 and 3,982 votes respectively.
Akpata, the only non-Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) maintained a 54.3 percent lead consistently since voting started on Wednesday, while the other two candidates maintained almost the same margin.
Although a total of 29,636 lawyers were accredited to vote in the e-election, only 18,256 succeeded in casting their ballots as at when the Chairman of the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, Chief Tawo Tawo (SAN), announced the result of the poll late Thursday.
Other elected officers for the various offices include John Aikpokpo-Martins as NBA First Vice President with a total of 6,010 votes, Adeyemo Kazeem emerged NBA Second Vice President with 8,794 votes, Mrs Joyce Oduah was elected NBA General Secretary with 8, 979 votes, while Mrs Uchenna Nwadialo polled 7,314 votes to emerge NBA’s Assistant General Secretary.
Also, Mrs Mercy Agada was elected NBA Treasurer unopposed, Nnamdi Anagor emerged the financial secretary unopposed while Olukunle Edun was elected NBA Welfare Secretary with 9,001 votes.
Dr Rapulu Nduka emerged the NBA Publicity Secretary with 11,964 votes while Naza Afam polled 6,490 votes to emerge NBA Assistant Publicity Secretary.
In his acceptance speech, Akpata described his election as a victory for young lawyers although some lawyers had expressed frustration about their inability to access the website for the electronic voting.
The speech titled, “Let secure the future through a united Bar that works for all,” reads, “The victory of last night is for our young lawyers who have become disillusioned with the way the NBA has been run over the years and how the profession appears to be disconnected from the challenges that face them and their future.
“It is for the progressive senior lawyer who refused to accept the status quo and took firm steps to ensure that things are done better.
“It is for the corporate counsel, law officers, law teachers, the police and military lawyers, and lawyers in all components of the profession who for long have been treated as unequal members of an Association that ought to be the umbrella body for all legal practitioners.
“The victory of last night is for the lawyer with disability who has long suffered neglect and indignity by the profession. Above all, our victory is for non-lawyers and the general populace who took an unusual, but a special, interest in the conduct of our elections, thus, lending credence to my long-held belief that the Nigerian society has always yearned for a legal profession and indeed a Bar that stands tall as an unwavering bastion of the rule of law, an advocate for the sanctity and independence of the judiciary, and a bulwark against tyranny and oppression.”
Meanwhile, Dele Adesina have faulted the election claiming that the poll lacked “all features of credibility and transparency,” and demanded its “immediate suspension… to a later date when a clean list must have been prepared and published.
Akpata noted Adesina’s complaint about “the administrative issues surrounding the elections” and it buttressed the concerns he (Akpata) had raised in his July 29, 2020 letter to the Chairman of the Electoral Committee of the NBA, Chief Tawo Tawo (SAN).
Akpata said he believed that the NBA election ought to be the standard for others to follow.
He said, “I strongly believe that there is plenty room for improvement in our electoral process, and I commit to making this possible.”
He called on Ajibade and Adesina to join him to “achieve our common goal of revitalising the Bar and ensuring that our voice is firm and unshaken when we speak.”