Leadership of NBA is Too Serious To Be Left in the Hands of Unfledged Self-Absorbed Minds

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By Sylvester Udemezue

“A Divided Bar Is A Defeated Bar”, said Olumide Akpata in his inaugural address on 28 August 2020


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“The Bar that I want to lead henceforth is one that is united on all fronts and that recognises that our diversity is, perhaps, our greatest strength…we desperately need to unite and speak with one firm voice..doing otherwise would be a great disservice to our vision of building a stronger and formidable Bar”

Today is 18 August 2022. It’s few days away from the 2nd anniversary of that great declaration!
Learned Benchers, Silks, Profs, Seniors and Colleagues, How Market? Has Olumide Akpata leadership united or disunited the Bar? Is it not messy everywhere within the Bar!

Those (including my good friend, BOB C.J. IJIOMA, Esq) who is used to attacking and insulting me whenever I try (and I will always do) to draw our attention to the fact that NBA leaderships have, in favour of pursuit of egocentrism, self-aggrandizement and egoistic shenanigans, abandoned the unity, professional wellbeing and the welfare and economic advancement of lawyers in Nigeria, should come out and see that the chicken has come home to roost.


NBA is too serious, mature and enlightened an organization to be left in the hands of exuberant immature minds such as we did in the period 2020-2022.

When a Learned silk (Chief Yomi Aliu SAN) came out to allude to “kindergarten” in describing the current NBA leadership, some drew their sword in readiness for possible smother of the Learned silk. However, judging from all what has been happening of late, within the Bar, would one be entirely wrong to conclude that the learned silk’s declaration is somewhat reasonably supportable on grounds other than those given by the learned silk when he made the declaration?

What serious achievements has the current NBA leadership recorded in the past 2 years other than pursuit of frivolousness and irrelevancies, misplacement of priorities and deprioritization of the numerous challenges facing the law profession in Nigeria?

I challenge any fair-minded NBA member to name any one achievement of the Olumide Akpata NBA leadership outside destabilizing, disorganizing and disuniting (1) the Bar, (2) NBA leadership and (3) NBA followership?
▪️The gulf between the _”Junior Advocates”_ (a term invented by Olumide Akpata himself) and the Senior Advocates, has widened. No love lost;
▪️BOSAN on the one hand, and the NBA Leadership on the other hand, are locked in an unending running battle to the extent that we’re in a situation of, “who will blink first?” or “fight to finish”.
▪️The ditchotomy between LOAN and non-LOAN members of the Law Profession persists and has even widened because Mr Akpata, after promising heaven on earth, actually did nothing to help;
▪️ Within the National Executive Committee (NBA-NECommittee) the President is locked in a fight-to-finish battle with the General Secretary, leading to the macabre dance of 15 August 2022. Now, lawsuits are flying all over the place, caused by Leadership mishandling of otherwise manageable disagreements.
One trend appears to be common in all of these: the President’s poor handling of these crises has lead to excalation rather than dousing of tensions and deepening of the disagreements, and and widening of gulfs . The result is that the real NBA businesses (aimed at improving the welfare and economic advancement of lawyers in Nigeria) are neglected in favour of infighting, backbiting and wranglings and show of power. I repeat, a more humble, diplomatic, altruistic and pragmatic leadership approach could have led to different results. See the revelations of the NBA General Secretary, which have remained unrefuted and uncountered. And, regarding the current crises in the NBA-NECommittee, renowned Professor Abiola SANNI, SAN has this to say:
_”…. I believe that the Exco’s mishandling of the process shows that the members were rattled or unsettled by the SG’s defence. They chose to “deal with the renegade/ bastard” rather than responding to weighty issues of facts, law and logic in her defence. As it were, her defence remains unchallenged”._
See: “A Comment on the crisis in the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA): The Purported Suspension of the General Secretary” (lawandsocietymagazine: 17 August 2022)

Now, juxtapose all the aforesaid with assurances and promises made by Olumide Akpata, Esq in his own inaugural address to NBA members on 28 August 2020! “How far has he fulfilled these promises?” is the question on the lips of most lawyers. Hear Mr President:
“I am also not unaware of very recent events and agitations that have tended to divide our Bar along regional and religious lines. This is rather unfortunate for an egalitarian Association like ours. The Bar that I want to lead henceforth is one that is united on all fronts and that recognises that our diversity is, perhaps, our greatest strength. I plead with all Nigerian lawyers to bear this philosophy of unity in mind as we commence a new journey together today.This enormous task cannot be achieved if we continue to fan the embers of division at a time when we desperately need to unite and speak with one firm voice. We must be kind, magnanimous, respectful, and sensitive in our words and actions, as doing otherwise would be a great disservice to our vision of building a stronger and formidable Bar. Now is the time to come together because a divided Bar is a defeated Bar”.
See: “INAUGURAL ADDRESS BY OLUMIDE AKPATA, PRESIDENT OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION AT THE INAUGURATION OF THE NBA 2020 – 2022 NATIONAL EXECUTIVE OFFICERS” (28 August 2020: <https://nigerianbar.org.ng/inaugural-address-olumide-akpata-president-nigerian-bar-association-inauguration-nba-2020-2022>).

I am Sylvester Udemezue (Udems)
(18 August 2022)

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