It must be pointed out that the attitude of some of our colleagues towards the present Nigerian Bar Association, NBA administration is an ill wind that blows no one no good. The war of words, law suits without substance and good cause of action only with the intent to embarrass the NBA leadership, connivance with EFCC to prosecute NBA leadership for charging a corporate client a high professional fee when the client has not complained; thereby making the little fear the security operatives used to have when dealing with a lawyer to stand the risk of being eroded, among others are reactions from certain quarters since the inception of the present NBA regime.
Permit me to make reference to what a resource person said at Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa in March 2001, almost 18 years ago, when I attended the first conference in my life outside of Nigeria. A female resource person said in her paper that ” you don’t know a man by his actions. Actions are pre arranged. You know a man by his reactions.”
During the electioneering campaign we saw the actions of the opposition camps against Paul Usoro SAN. We saw his reactions. He never attack any personality. He only addressed issues. By such reactions from Paul Usoro SAN we knew him as a good statesman, with maturity, mutual respect, exposure and self control.
When Paul Usoro SAN won the NBA presidential election we now have the opportunity to see their reactions. If one may venture into doing a comparative analysis of the reactions of Paul Usoro SAN and that of his opponents one may not be wrong to say that Paul Usoro SAN was indeed a better material for the job.
When we consider the recent suit of Ernest Ojukwu SAN against NBA and his reliance on the Freedom Of Information Act, I can’t help joining Mr. President to ask: “Why now?” Even the holy bible says there is time and season for everything under the sun. Even if there could have been a need for such a legal action against NBA, it has been overtaken by events, having recourse to recent reforms and restructuring of NBA by the present NBA national leadership.
NBA is advancing and moving forward in financial accountability and transparency. Even the NEC of NBA comprising of not only national officers but also branch chairmen, secretaries and NEC representatives passed a vote of confidence on the present NBA national leadership.
NEC emphasized the need for financial
transparency, accountability and
prudence in the management of the
Association’s finances and commended
Paul Usoro-led administration for its
stringent and prudent spending and
financial management policy.
The present NBA leadership needs encouragement from all well meaning members. Any action that distracts or is aimed to make them lose focus should be condemned in all its ramifications. Most law suits against the NBA lack merit both in form and in substance.
Politics at the micro level of NBA is different from politics at the macro level of the larger society.
Indeed a strong opposition at the macro level of politics creates a balance of power. It checks excesses. According to the old adage: “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. ” At the micro level of NBA, it must be understood that NBA is the only pressure group of lawyers in Nigeria. Considering the terrain where we are where lawyers are being slapped or detained by security operatives for wanting to have audience with their clients. Security operatives disobey court orders with impunity. Even in the days of military regime, the NBA national leadership under Alao Aka Bashorun used to challenge the military dictatorship. Until in a public gathering Military President Ibrahim Babangida referred to him as “my colleague president.” So was the sanctity of the office of NBA president respected. The respect is not just for the occupant of the office. It is for the legal profession. If the reverence for the office is jealously guarded and a lawyer is being maltreated, abused or dehumanized by security operatives, an intervention by the NBA can save the situation for the lawyer. But when lawyers themselves from within the NBA strengthen the hands of security operatives and remove the reverence for the sacred office of the president of NBA how safe are lawyers in a hostile terrain like Nigeria. After two years, the regime of Paul Usoro SAN will be over. There is no second term. But the effect of the negative reactions of some of our colleagues may take a long time before it is erased. Prevention they say is better than cure.
The present generation of lawyers and indeed the future generation of lawyers have no other pressure group than the NBA. We should arise and defend it. We should not only be intelligent. We should be wise. We should not only look at the immediate. We should consider the future of the Bar. God bless the NBA!
Emmanuel Etietop Esq