Olumide Akpata, President-elect of the Nigerian Bar Association, has described his election as a victory for young lawyers.
Akpata made this known in In his acceptance speech which was made available to CEOAFRICA on Friday.
Akpata emerged winner of the NBA presidential poll conducted electronically between 11pm on Wednesday and 11pm on Thursday.
He polled 9, 891 votes to defeat two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Babatunde Ajibade and Dele Adesina, who polled 4,328 and 3,982 votes respectively.
In the acceptance speech, titled, “Let secure the future through a united Bar that works for all,” Akpata stated that the victory of last night is for 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 said “the victory of last night is for 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. It is for the progressive senior lawyer who refused to accept the status quo and took firm steps to ensure that things are done better. It 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.
“I write to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Let me assure you that I do not take for granted the hardwork, passion and commitment that you all invested into the process that has now culminated in my emergence as President-elect”.
Speaking on his nomination, he said “on Wednesday 27 May 2020, I submitted my nomination form to signify the formal expression of my intent to contest for the office of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the foremost and oldest professional membership association in Nigeria and the most influential network of legal practitioners in Africa. Alongside the nomination form, I submitted a document embodying my Leadership Programme of Action for the NBA, if elected President. In that document, I pledged to use what I consider as my greatest personal attribute: discipline of execution, in carrying out the undertakings that I had given to the members; and I also promised to lay the foundation for the future profession that we all desire.
“When I decided to throw my hat in the ring, I was certain that the election was really not about me. I was driven by the passion to use my time, talent and resources to improve our Association by making it fit-for-purpose, beneficial to all members and responsive to the needs of the society. Throughout the electioneering process, I saw many Nigerian lawyers who had either lost faith, or never been interested, in the NBA participate with utmost enthusiasm in the hope that things would become better. This further goes to show that the extraordinary movement that heralded this electoral victory was not, and could never have been about me.
Akpata, in his acceptance speech, also noted Adesina’s complaint about “the administrative issues surrounding the elections” and it buttressed the concerns he (Akpata) had raised in his July 29, 2020 letter to the Chairman of the Electoral Committee of the NBA, Chief Tawo Tawo (SAN).
Akpata said he believed that the NBA election ought to be the standard for others to follow.
He said, “I strongly believe that there is plenty room for improvement in our electoral process, and I commit to making this possible.”
He called on Ajibade and Adesina to join him to “achieve our common goal of revitalising the Bar and ensuring that our voice is firm and unshaken when we speak.”