As the 2018 National Elections of the largest Bar in Africa – the Nigerian Bar Association (“NBA”), draws nigh, varied gimmicks; schisms, permutations, calculations, campaign of calumnies and bitter politicking are playing out at various quarters, for who occupies the most coveted position – the office of the NBA President. Undoubtedly, all these are humans’ efforts, partly to win the support of lawyers and sadly, to elbow some candidates out of the race. Certainly, the latter is not healthy for a noble association like the NBA. The race for sure, we know is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong. Only the candidate whom providence shall smile at will wear the crown.

A candidate that should be elected the NBA President must be a lawyer with proven track record. He must be one who will not lead by the nose — by that, I mean, not to lead the association blindly.  Such a lawyer that will be saddled with such arduous tasks must be a prepared fellow with a backbone of his own.

Interestingly, the uniqueness of the NBA is that, it is quite different from other contemporary associations. It is a conglomeration of very responsible and thoroughbred professionals. Thus, whoever aspires to lead the body must possess two inseparable qualities as aptly postulated by the Commandant of the 82nd US Airborne in World War II, Gen. Matthew B. Ridgwal and I quote inter alia: “There are two kinds of courage; physical and moral, and he who will be a true leader must have both”. These qualities are very significant, considering the constant assault of lawyers by law enforcement agencies. Apart from the educational and professional qualifications, there are certain requirements that the leadership of an association of more than a thousand members must have, and such qualifications are not limited to being humble, pragmatic and results oriented.

Lucidly, and of course unquestionably, I find these qualities and even more, in one of the NBA Presidential candidate – Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN, FCIArb. Here is a man that has both physical and moral courage to lead the NBA.  This man, I must say, is an impeccable legal icon. If I were to place in nomination, I will, without any hesitation, rise and nominate Mr. Usoro solely for the NBA President.  For starters, in brevity, Mr. Usoro is an experienced lawyer, a Senior Partner and founder of Paul Usoro & Co (PUC), one of the leading commercial law firms in Nigeria. He has to his credit, a staggering 37-year experience of active legal practice. I would not like to dissipate energy to highlight the outstanding profile of a sterling five-star legal general in the person of Mr. Usoro, SAN, even though I cannot stop drawing inspiration from the learned Silk’s profile.

However, posterity will not pardon me if I fail to reiterate a few remarkable achievements and contributions of Mr. Usoro, SAN to the evolution of law in Nigeria as well as in repositioning the NBA as a formidable force to reckon with, both domestically and globally. Fascinatingly, Mr. Usoro, SAN among others, drafted the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 (“NCC Act”), (which regulates the communications industry of Nigeria, without any controversy as to its provisions till date), the Nigerian Communications (Enforcement Processes etc.) Regulations, 2005; the Annual Operating Levy Regulations, 2014; Mobile Number Portability Regulations, 2014; Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act 2007; Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003; Coastal and Inland Shipping Cabotage (Bareboat Registration) Regulations 2005; Coastal and Inland Shipping Cabotage (Ship Detention Order) Regulations 2005 etc.

I dare say that there is no one, in recent past, who has rendered services freely to NBA than Mr. Usoro, SAN. He has unswervingly been sponsoring NBA Dinners and Conferences, inclusive of the NBA Section on Business Law Conferences and other activities. In 2017, Mr. Usoro’s Firm solely sponsored one of the most attended Break-out sessions at the 2017 NBA Conference – Emerging Trends in Global Legal Practice. His tremendous support and sponsorship of various NBA Branches meetings and events cannot be overemphasized. Specifically, Mr. Usoro’s firm sponsored the Elders’ Night of NBA Lagos Branch 2017 Law week. He was the founding Chairman of the Communication Committee of the NBA’s Section on Business Law (SBL). This committee is of one the live wires or perhaps what a genetic and biotechnologist would describe as the mitochondria of the NBA.

I must mention that Mr. Usoro, SAN, is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria whose proficiency, bravery, sincerity, humility, meticulousness, advocacy and administrative skills are very rare in the legal community. Despite Mr. Usoro’s elevated position in life, he has always been very approachable, accessible and non-discriminatory. Indeed, Mr. Usoro can perfectly and aptly be described as a true leader. Yes, a true leader, I mean. He has the compassion to listen to the needs of others and to add value to their lives.

As we get set to choose a new leader for this strong and revered Association in few days, I urge you, most respectfully, to vote Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN. Yes, vote a man that has been a champion of minorities’ plight, a man that frequently raises his voice against bigotry and a man that has the welfare of lawyers at heart.

Mr. Usoro, SAN is a leader who understands the NBA perfectly, and is ready to transform the Association. By being ready I mean, he has the willpower, skill, experience, charisma and even the connection to move NBA forward. As we know, Mr. Usoro, SAN has served on the Board of various Companies, namely: Premium Pensions Ltd, Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc Access Bank Plc (Current), Airtel Networks Limited, Marina Securities Ltd (Chairman of the Board), CR Services (Credit Bureau) PLC (representing Zenith Bank Plc) and PZ Cussons Plc (Current). As a director in these companies, he has always performed his duties with unswerving diligence, integrity and love for all and sundry. Hence, I believe immensely that with his experience in corporate governance, leadership and administration, Mr. Usoro, SAN will reform and reposition the NBA for good.

My name is Ayi-Ekpenyong Imah and my vote is for Paul Usoro, SAN.


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