By Ifeanyi Agwuncha
Yesterday, 30 /7 /2020, Nigerian Lawyers unanimously elected Olumide Akpata as the 30th President of the Nigerian Bar Association, a landslide victory where he pulled over fifty percent of the total votes cast.
A post held predominantly by Senior Advocates of Nigeria, and Advocates generally, Olumide Akpata Esq is a breath of fresh air on several fronts historically.
Aside not being a Senior Advocate, his huge victory ushers in an era where the Nigerian Bar Association will be led by a successful lawyer who is a Transactional lawyer, a different path from several of his colleagues who “puts it to you and interested in no 5 in the cause list”.
The Legal Profession in Nigeria is pluralistic in nature, this should not matter ordinarily however unfortunately in the run in to the election this and other issues that shouldn’t be associated with professionals who call themselves “learned” reared its ugly head.
His marital status, body size, his “perceived inexperience in litigation”, his not being a SAN etc were made campaign points in an exercise that degenerated from the important issues to the absurd and mundane.
As he soared, endeared to many a Lawyer with his fantastic antecedents, record of service to the Bar and stewardship, it caused stir and panties got wet in several quarters, it became obvious that a “revolution” was imminent.
His disqualification was mooted and canvassed on several fronts. The infamous letter from Asiwaju Adegboyega Awomolo SAN and the release of J. B. Daudu SAN amidst a bitter media campaign were efforts to scuttle this dream made manifest yesterday, thanks to universal suffrage and an election that wasn’t prone to compromise, he won in style!
We have celebrated. There is joy in the legal community no doubt but there is great work ahead. Olumide Akpata Esq is a metaphor and carries huge burden on his shoulders. He has a lot to achieve and failure is not an option!
He has to prove critics wrong that lawyers in other endeavors aside litigation are not incompetent, they are skilled in all ramifications inclusive of leadership and at par with their colleagues who eke a living arguing cases in courts.
He has to achieve success and drive home the point that Lawyers who are not Senior Advocates are also goal getters when saddled with leadership etc. He has to diminish and excise that unholy dichotomy from the minds of Lawyers with positive works
The only way to get these results is by assiduously achieving the contents of his manifesto, showing practically that those lovely programmes are not mere words!
I believe just like the litany who voted him that he can achieve those and come out in flying colors like he has done in Templars and in his service to the Bar prior to now.
He should get to work as his actions will be MERCILESSLY scrutinized along his manifesto, if he succeeds as expected, it will not only resonate with his campaign slogan of making the Bar work for all, the apathy and non – acceptance of Lawyers not in litigation for leadership positions in the NBA will be exorcised!
Congratulations Mr. President and the rest of the executives elect, I wish you all the best, but most importantly the desire to succeed and fulfill your mandate is a personal drive.
May the Bar witness unprecedented quality leadership!
Once again congratulations!!!