The newly elected President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Akpata has appreciated and thanked vast majority of young lawyers who made his victory possible.
While thanking them, Akpata dedicated his victory to “our young lawyers who have become disillusioned with the way the NBA has been run over the years and how the profession appears to be disconnected from the challenges that face them and their future.”
Akpata polled 9,891 votes to defeat two senior advocates — Mr Dele Adesina and Dr Babatunde Ajibad — in the election which closed at 11pm on Thursday.
Ajibade polled 4,328 votes, Adesina 3,982 votes and a total of 18,256 ballots were cast.
He also acknowledged the support of “the progressive senior lawyer who refused to accept the status quo and took firm steps to ensure that things are done better.
The results of the elections were announced by the Chairman of the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) Mr. Tawo. E. Tawo.
Other elected officers for the various offices include Mr John Aikpokpo-Martins as NBA First Vice President with a total of 6,010 votes.
Mr Adeyemo Kazeem emerged NBA Second Vice President with 8,794 votes. Mrs Joyce Oduah was elected NBA General Secretary with 8, 979 votes while Mrs Uchenna Nwadialo polled 7,314 votes to emerge NBA’s Assistant General Secretary.
Mrs Mercy Agada was elected NBA Treasurer unopposed, Mr Nnamdi Anagor emerged the financial secretary unopposed while Mr Olukunle Edun was elected NBA Welfare Secretary with 9,001 votes.
Dr Rapulu Nduka emerged the NBA Publicity Secretary with 11,964 votes while Mr Naza Afam polled 6,490 votes to emerge NBA Assistant Publicity Secretary.
In his victory speech, Akpata said: “It (his victory) is for the corporate counsel, law officers, law teachers, the police and military lawyers, and lawyers in all components of the profession who for long have been treated as unequal members of an Association that ought to be the umbrella body for all legal practitioners.
“The victory of last night is for the lawyer with disability who has long suffered neglect and indignity by the profession. Above all, our victory is for non-lawyers and the general populace who took an unusual but a special interest in the conduct of our elections, thus, lending credence to my long-held belief that the Nigerian society has always yearned for a legal profession and indeed a Bar that stands tall as an unwavering bastion of the rule of law, an advocate for the sanctity and independence of the judiciary, and a bulwark against tyranny and oppression.”
Speaking on the NBA election, Ajibade said in a statement: “I have called Mr. Olumide Akpata and congratulated him on his election as the 30th President of our great association, the Nigerian Bar Association, in the elections held on 29th-30th July, 2020.
“As a co-contestant in the elections, I am proud of the level of the debate and the quality of the ideas that were brought forth, for the improvement of our association, the welfare of its members and the good of our society.
“It is unfortunate that the process leading up to and during the election itself has, once again, not been devoid of controversy.
“It is my fervent hope that we will get over these repeated challenges with conducting objectively free and fair elections into the leadership positions in the association.
“I remain resolute in my belief that we cannot succeed in addressing the challenges confronting our profession unless we unite and I urge the incoming President and his executive to take deliberate and proactive steps to unite the Bar.”
The election was by electronic voting and held for 24 hours from 11pm on Wednesday.
It was a significant victory in the association’s history as it signaled a shift from the hold SANs had on the Bar leadership.
It represents a revolutionary break from the status quo, partly made possible by the introduction of a universal suffrage in which young lawyers made their number count, as against the electoral college system.
Akpata, a non-SAN and commercial/transactional lawyer who rarely makes court appearances, is the first non-SAN to be elected President of the Bar since 1989 when the late Alao Aka-Bashorun was at the helm.
The task of managing the association’s image falls on Dr Rapuluchukwu Ernest Nduka, who was elected the National Publicity Secretary.
In a message to lawyers, he said: “It was tasking and I would not have gotten this far without your support, prayers and sacrifices. You gave everything to this project and the result was a product of your overwhelming effort.
“A new chapter begins. Your ideas and input will assist in fulfilling my manifesto.
“My opponent has graciously agreed to work with me, so we can have a ReBranded Bar. I strongly believe that we can achieve the goal as I promised in the campaigns with your assistance.”
Adesina had faulted the electoral process and called for the cancellation of an exercise he called “a sham”.