All is truly not well with the Nigerian Bar Association if the reports in the news are anything to go by. The reports show that there is palpable leadership crisis rocking the Association presently.
The situation has polarized the NBA leadership, resulting in the Secretary-General Mr. Ibrahim Eddy Mark being served an impeachment notice over allegation of financial impropriety.
Another splinter group within the National leadership has also called upon the apex decision making body of the Bar Association, the National Executive Committee (NEC) to sack the National President Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) over allegation of corruption and abuse of office etc. The anti-National President group is being led by Mr. Barth Okoye, NBA’s third vice president, while the group calling for the impeachment of the Secretary-General is led by the National Publicity Secretary of the NBA, Muritala Abdul Rasheed.
The Secretary General is being accused of acting on the script of the Justice Minister and Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Michael Aondoaka (SAN) to destablise the NBA especially in the face of the uncompromising principle stand of the NBA on topical national issues.
From all available indications, the coherent and cohesive leadership stand of the NBA is enmeshed in divisive tendencies. Luckily enough, Concerned Elders of the legal profession have stepped into the crisis with a view to resolving the simmering discontent before the next NEC meeting of the Association in the coal city of Enugu. This is a welcome development that deserves the support of all legal practitioner, considering the fact that the NBA represents the vanguard of positive changes.
Indeed, the learned elders of the legal Profession and the NBA leadership cannot afford to disappoint Nigerians through meaningless imbroglio.
The Bar Association needs a cohesive and united leadership to stand up to enforce compliance with the avowal rule of law by this administration.
The Nigerian Bar Association has passed through a chequered history right from 1959 and has championed the rule of law and democracy in Nigeria. It must therefore complement the sustenance of democracy by the judiciary by rising to confront any unacceptable policy that might negatively affect the well-being of Nigerians.
As I sat in the Hall during the largest gathering of Lawyers in Africa, Lagos Conference 2009 I could hear the Speaker, House of Representatives Hon. Bankole expressing the apathy of the Bar Leadership towards partnering with the National Assembly especially the Lower House over certain proposed reforms or Bills. The Bar must be proactive as vanguard of change.
The leadership must out of necessity look inward to comprehensively address the issues of legal education, strict adherence to ethics, future of young lawyers in Nigeria and impact of globalization on the legal practice.
The needless crisis must end for the leadership to refocus on its special role and responsibilities.
Meanwhile, it is the expected duty of the NBA to stand up against despotism, dictatorship, arbitrariness, lawlessness, executive recklessness and corrupt leadership in Nigeria.To abdicate these cardinal onerous duties and responsibilities for divisive tendencies is to encourage lawlessness.
The Nigerian Bar Association today has produced some of the nation’s great heroes with great achievements not only in law, but also in politics, business and academic and.must avoid the pitfalls of the Port Harcourt Waterloo especially the tyranny of bourgeois lawyers which has exposed the NBA to odium and scorn among the generality of Nigerians.
We must collectively re-invent the Bar activism as was under Alao Aka-Bashorum and pragmatic leadership of Senior Advocates of Nigeria like O.C.J. Okocha, Chief Wole Olanipekun, Olisa Agbakoba and Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.