2020 NBA election, a sham – Prof Odinkalu

The immediate past Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu has dismissed the just concluded election of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) as a sham.

Odinkalu, in a statement, said the election was not only deeply flawed but that it also failed the test of transparency.

He specifically lambasted the electoral body which conducted the poll, saying from all indications, it was “unfit for the purpose” for which it was constituted.

A former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Section on Business Law, Olumide Akpata, had Friday emerged as the president-elect of the Association.

The Chairman of the Electoral Committee of the NBA, Tawo Tawo (SAN), who made the declaration around 12:52 am on Friday said Akpata scored the highest number of votes cast and satisfied the provisions of the NBA constitution.

Akpata scored 9,891 votes out of a total of 18,256 voters who participated in the elections, representing 54.3% of the votes. 

He defeated Dr. Babatunde Ajibade (SAN) who scored 4,328 and Dele Adesina (SAN) who scored 3,982.

Other winners who emerged in the elections are: John O Aikpokpo-Martins as the first Vice President with 6,010 votes, and Adeyemo Kazeem Debo as second Vice President with 8,794.

Others are Joyce Oduah as General Secretary; Nwadialo Esther Uchenna, Assistant Secretary; Mercy Ijato Agada, Treasurer; and Edun Olukunle, Welfare Secretary.

Anagor Raphael Nnamdi emerged as Financial Secretary; Nduka Rapuluchukwu Ernest (PhD) as Publicity Secretary; and Naza Ferdinand Afam as Assistant Publicity Secretary.

The new officers of the association are expected to be sworn in at the forthcoming 60th annual general conference of the NBA holding virtually from the 26th to the 29th of August. 

Odinkalu had before the election raised the alarm over the plot by the electoral body to conduct a flawed election.

He had issued statements and written articles to call attention of stakeholders to the inadequacies in the arrangements on ground by the ECNBA.

Some of the major contestants in the election did not take any action until it was too late.

Odinkalu who said he is already on sabbatical from the Nigerian Bar Association following the failure by the ECNBA to do the right thing advised the Akpata-led administration to put a better electoral structure on ground for the next election.

The statement by Odinkalu reads in part: “On this morning, after the day before, it’s essential to thank all the colleagues who put themselves forward for the contest into leadership positions in #NBADecides2020. The campaign was spirited &, as with all campaigns, punishing.

“The #ECNBA was, in my view, unfit for purpose. At all turns, it was tone deaf at best or transparently on the wrong tarmac. The best that can be said about its capabilities, communication & outreach is that they were abysmally sub-par. That is kind too.

“The process was deeply, deeply flawed. Discovering that did not require any huge skills in rocket science. The electoral roll was a scandal. The hide-and-seek was befitting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.

“It’s unfortunate that rather than speak up about the flaws in the process at the time they arose, some folks chose to accommodate them, in the hope that their camp will benefit from the flaws. Now, the same people complain about what they deliberately chose to overlook. Principles should matter.

“The sense of entitled arrogance communicated in Asiwaju Gboyega Awomolo, SAN’s communication galvanised clarity & resistance to the tendency he represented in his unfortunate epistle.

“So, in the end, the most popular candidate was announced as the winner of the contest to lead the Association.

“That does not & should not make anyone blind to the flaws in the process. Neither the candidates nor the NBA deserve what this ECNBA served up as an electoral process. There is no way to minimise that point.

“It would be worthwhile for the new leadership of the NBA to consider instituting a root & branch internal inquiry into leadership elections in the NBA  and begin from its 1st day in office to prepare something seminally different & better in 2022,” he further said.

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