As the date for elections into national offices of the Nigerian Bar Association draws near not a few lawyers will be wondering how best to exercise their franchise. Ironically, the universal suffrage is a fairly novel concept for the NBA. It has only been used once, and that was during the election that brought the current administration to power.
Universal suffrage, for the NBA, is thus less than two years old. This is the big irony. The bar association that should be the leading light in democratic culture and principle has for too long denied its members their basic fundamental right to choose their leaders. Thus while the white wigs and very young lawyers might take this right for granted, a vast majority of the very old lawyers who have for too long been conditioned to having an electoral college of a tiny minority decide for them are yet to come to terms with the innovation.
The forthcoming election is thus critical for the bar. The ability of the learned to make informed choice is being put to the test.
The outcome of this election at this critical point in our history will have far reaching impact on the future of the bar and indeed legal practice in Nigeria.
How will the learned gentlemen choose? Will they be swayed by wishy washy sentimentalism or will they choose based on critical analysis and realistic appraisal of the antecedents and pedigree of the contestants?
Without doubt, the most important office in the NBA elections is that of the president. Of all the contenders to the office one clearly stands out in terms of having made the greatest contribution to the profession: by training of lawyers from the university through the law school, by supervising the continuing legal education of members of the bar, by making the largest number of contributions in the form of recommendations for the general improvement of the profession, by manifesting a matchless passion and dedication to the welfare and development of the young lawyer.
That man is ERNEST OJUKWU, professor of law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, affectionately called “Teacher” by many.
Will the NBA predict its future by writing it?
The nation is waiting.