In the past 10years, the 2017 election will be the second time tribe will not play a part in the election of the Nigeria Bar Association Lagos branch (NBA) Lagos. The 2011 was the first in that time frame.
Unfortunately, that election of 2011 can be said to be the most rancorous election in a 10 year history of the branch while the 2013 election divided the branch the most with two emergency meetings held to resolve disputes. The scar of that election still lingers amidst the banters and jokes that characterise the NBA meetings.
In the election of 2007, the tribe factor was subdued when all tribal interests supported Bola Baderinwa against Emeka Nwosu. That was a remarkable time in the history of the branch under review.
The 2011 election holds the record of the biggest margin win when Taiwo Taiwo got 70% 702 votes against Toyin Bashorun’s 29.5% votes of 295 votes. (The 2007 election is not considered for lack of statistics).
The 2017 and the 2009 elections are similar in two ways.
- In 2009, one of the leading candidates Chijioke Okoli was perceived as a new comer just as Chukwuka Ikwuazom one of the leading candidate is battling with that perception
- In 2009, leading commercial law firms showed direct interest in the election and in 2017, they are showing a direct interest. The second time in 10years
Historically, In 2009, the annual general conference took place in Lagos and it will take place in Lagos this year.
Chijioke Okoli is the only one who has won an election as the Chairman without previously serving in the executive committee.
Martin Ogunleye in the past ten years will be the first to be returned unopposed. The last time was in 2005 when Folusho Fayokun was returned unopposed.
Alex Muoka will be the first in the period to rise from the position of a secretary to Chairman. Taiwo o. Taiwo and Martin Ogunleye lost elections and rose to the chairmanship in their second attempt. Taiwo o. Taiwo won by an unprecedented majority subsequently.
|YEAR||WINNER||Estimated branch Population(June)||Estimated number of all votes cast||Number of Votes Garnered by the winner||No of Candidates|
|2007|| Bola Baderinwa
|2011||Taiwo o Taiwo
The above statistics reveal that about a third of the members on the membership list actually turn out to vote making it likely that about 1,500 members will turn out to vote in the forthcoming election. In 2009, more than half of the members participated in the elections owing to the formidable publicity of Chijioke Okoli.
There are concerns that the number may be lower since the Ministry of Justice factor will be out of the equation for the first time in ten years. This may actually bring the number of members that will cast their votes down to about 1,300 members.
Other factors that will affect election turnout is
- The possibility of the Secretary running unopposed in this election. This will be happening for the first time in the 10years under review. The Position of the secretary helps drive people to the voting venue.
- The leading candidate factor. Usually when one candidate is so visible in the campaign and shines more than others, it affects the turn out because some people who would have voted for any of the candidates will stay at home feeling that there is no serious contest.
- The advantage of the tribe factor is that it makes the election more competitive and exciting. Owing to its absence, a few people may be indifferent.
For a candidate to win in the next election, that candidate must at least gain a total of seven hundred and forty nine votes. This number would have been lower if the branch had opted to use the 2015 bye laws in the conduct of the election.
There are three voting blocs in the NBA Lagos election.
- The floating Lawyers: This may not necessarily be a voting bloc because they are not really organized. They make up about 65% of Lawyers who are eligible to vote. They are up for grabs. This group is made up of lawyers in small law firms, other smaller lawyers’ group, litigation lawyers who are active in the activities of the branch. They usually influence the outcome of the election but do not vote as bloc. Most times, anyone who successfully mobilizes them wins the election without the other blocs. This group determines the true popularity of a candidate. Unfortunately, most lawyers under this group and even other blocs do not vote based on candidate’s manifesto but on sentiments factors like
- He told me First
- We belong to the same sub association
- I think he is going to win
The most influential sub groups under this are Surulere Lawyers Forum ,Lawyers in Western House and Catholic Lawyers. They both can contribute 5% each to the total number of votes.
- Commercial Law firms: This group is a bloc when they are mobilized and they have a direct interest in the election. When they don’t, they are subsumed in the floating bloc where they are up for grabs. When they are interested in an election, 80% of these law firms vote in one direction and their votes can make up 20% of the total number of votes.
- Lawyers outside practice: When these lawyers are mobilized, they usually form a bloc for whoever organizes them first. They are usually excluded about getting involved and recognized. They include in-house lawyers, lawyers in Parastatals e.g. EFCC NIMASA etc. This group can also give about 15% of the votes if mobilized.
Candidates who feel that they do not have the support of the big law firm reach out to this group to level up their support base. In the past 10 years, only Chijioke Okoli has successfully mobilized the two blocs.
In 2015, Alex Muoka successfully mobilized about 50% of the commercial law firms, 60% of the floating votes and about 20% of the votes outside practice.
Hanniibal Uwaifo mobilized about 15% of the commercial law firms and 70% of lawyers outside practice. However, when the branch decided that voters must have both the evidence of practicing fees and branch due to vote, the influence of the lawyers outside practice who do not usually pay practice fees at that time were knocked out. They will be relevant in the coming election because of the stamp and seal project that made many of them get involved.
Summarily, the commercial law firms when not mobilized fall into the floating votes like in 2011 when only about 25% of them stood for Toyin Bashorun. The pool of the floating votes increased because the commercial law firms did not really participate giving Taiwo O. Taiwo victory. The votes of the lawyers outside practice counted in his favor too. Taiwo’s Victory was the most predictable.Toyin Bahorun’s rightist views at the time may have contributed in costing her victory.
No woman has served as Secretary in the past 10years .O.T Opara is the only woman who has contested for Secretary in a general election in the past 10years but lost to S.B Onu in 2009.(Obele Akinniranye contested in a bye election in 2014 against Adebola Lema).The position of the Publicity Secretary has been unopposed in the past 10 years. Nduka Chinedu and Marian Jones have served the branch the longest having served in three administrations in the past 10years. The closest win was recorded by O.T Opara against Nelson Ogbuanya in the Social Secretary election of 2011 where O.T scored 482 votes and Nelson 480.
It is predicted by courtroom mail that the first female Chairman of the branch will emerge in 2021
Anthony Atata has been documenting the NBA Lagos since 2009