Appreciation Gone Wrong: Clearer Facts Emerge on NBA, Olubakin Portrait Saga

Oladele Olubakin

On 21st of December, 2017, the A.B Mahmoud SAN led Executives of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) paid a courtesy visit to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, at the State House at Aso Rock. During the visit, the NBA delegation presented the President a beautiful gigantic portrait of the President which was well appreciated.

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Little did one realize what was to come shortly after the visit and the presentation of the gift.

Yesterday, 20th February, 2018, an Abuja based multi-talented lawyer (who aside from being a lawyer is also a writer and a painter) took to his social media platforms to reveal that the painting presented to Mr. President belongs to him.

How it all started

It all started with this post made by Mr. Olubakin on his facebook page

So I did a painting of Buhari to present it to him personally during the NBA conference and was rejected and turned down that the President won’t receive such. I was later told to keep it in the NBA building till another time only to wake up one day and see online that the painting was being presented to him by the NBA without my authoritisation, consent or knowledge as his 75th birthday present 😳…and somebody said God doesn’t reward his people or doesn’t remember them…He doesn’t mind to turn away the wisdom of the wise to reach and bless his own…there’s this scripture about the stone that the builders rejected…you know the rest😂…oya na, wear your shoe let’s go to court 😂😂😂 #Launch #NaGod #Godwascookingsomething #Jesusdidthis

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Story of the Painting

 Mr. Oladele Olubakin told the story as paraphrased below.

He took the painting to NBA during Chief Alegeh SAN’s tenure to request that he be accompanied by NBA to present the painting to the President but was told to keep the painting until the NBA is ready to visit the President. The idea being that he would be called upon to join the NBA team so as to present his painting by himself to Mr. President.

At some point, he went to the NBA house to check up on the painting and could not find it and immediately demanded for its whereabout and was told the painting was missing but would be traced.

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That was the last Mr. Olubakin heard about the painting unitl he saw in the news that the painting has been presented to the President by delegates of  NBA without his knowledge and consent.

Expressing his disappointment, Mr. Olubakin noted that the most painful part is that he was not even called by Mr. A.B Mahmoud SAN or anyone from his administration. He stated that admittedly the painting was taken to the NBA during the last tenure but before presenting same to the President, A.B Mahmoud SAN ought to have asked questions and probably called Chief Alegeh SAN to inquire about the painting.

Describing the painting, Mr. Olubakin said “It is a huge painting that is 6 feet tall, I took my time to paint it and frame it to give to President Buhari. I spent a lot of time and resources and made sure it was perfectly made. I also needed to project that aspect of my career and felt NBA would assist me in this regard.”

Going Public with the Issue

Olubakin explained why he posted on his facebook and why he engaged a lawyer.

I wrote to NBA and we had a couple of meetings already. Their attitude was very bad. They told me the painting has been presented and they do not have the money to give me. Fine, I was not expecting to be paid for the painting by Mr. President but I also wanted an opportunity to present the painting myself. Even though this was done without my knowledge and consent, NBA remained unremorseful and was reluctant to offer anything for the painting. The letter written by my Lawyer Mr. Falana was the second letter.

So, I was left without a choice than to demand that they give me back my painting. They should go and collect it back from the President.  

 Feelers from NBA

Reacting to Mr. Olubakin’s claim, Chijiokwu Lydia on behalf of NBA (not officially confirmed) wrote:

People have been tagging me on a picture of NBA national leadership presenting a painting to President Muhammadu Buhari. I guess those tagging me, wants my response?

I have done my investigations and I can reliably say this;

  1. Oladele Olubakin, Esq the artist who painted that portrait of President Buhari, handed it over to NBA for NBA to give it to President Buhari,
  2. It was not handed over to the current leadership of NBA but the immediate past leadership.
  3. That the leadership of NBA while handing over the said picture to President Buhari, acknowledged that the painting was done by a lawyer who is a member of NBA. NBA leadership did not appropriate authorship of the painting.
  4. the letter from his lawyer on social media, is an all time low. Femi Falana, SAN, is not a stranger to NBA and had unfettered access to the Holiest of Holies of NBA. This issue, if at all it is an issue, would have been resolved over a cup of coffee but the manner it has been launched, gives the impression that it is a part of an orchestra, assembled to embarrass NBA and mostly AB Mahmoud’s administration.

My candid advice to Oladele Olubakin, Esq, is to withdraw the letter his lawyer, Falana and Falana’s chambers wrote to NBA.

When he gave NBA that his painting to give to President Buhari, he lost the right over it. When the administration he gave the picture to deliver to President Buhari failed to do the needful, he should have withdrawn the picture, rather than leaving the picture with NBA.

NBA has done what he wanted, why is he now threatening NBA?

If he had wanted to gain mileage by personally presenting the painting to Mr. President, there are other ways to go about it but attempting to embarrass NBA, is most unfortunate or could he be acting out a script by those who are hellbent on discrediting A.B Mahmoud, SAN?

In all my active years in NBA, no administration has received the kind of insult, attacks and outright campaign of falsehood like A.B’s. Unfortunately all his administration is being maligned for, were things left undone or misdone incompetently by his predecessor in office.

Leadership crisis in local branches from Unity Bar through Aba Branch and others are due to the lacuna in the 2015 NBA Constitution and Uniform Bye Law for Branches.

All these attackers, should use their tongue and count their teeth and ask, where did the rain start to beat NBA? 

Mr. Olubakin’s  Response:           

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I was turned down by Conference Committee Chairman whose name I will withhold now for my reasons. After it had become sure I wont be able to present my painting, I had gone to NBA building to look for the painting and was told because of the logistics of movement from their former office, the painting could not be traced at the moment and that I would be contacted when it was found. I am a lawyer and there was no need for me to raise an alarm. I simply believed I would be contacted if it was traced. Did you see the size of that painting? why would I work so hard on a piece like that and just dash it away. The next thing I saw was the painting being presented. NBA didn’t pay me a dime for that painting. I never at any time transferred it to them. I had spoken with former President who told me he was neither called nor asked about the status of the painting and he never handed the painting over. Please do your research well. All the people involved in this matter since it started are still alive and can be called any time.

I had tried to settle this matter like a family affair but the attitude of the NBA to my letters and even the meeting we held and the tone of their response letter is really upsetting. We have been on this matter since December last year. Go and ask the current Sec Gen and let him tell you how much I had tried to reach them and settle this matter inwardly. Why do I have to come public if not that I saw that the way it was going I was going to lose my painting and all the recognition that could have come with it.

I repeat that I did not give NBA my painting to present to the President. Why would I do that? Everyman wants to project his work not just dash it out as if it is not valuable. I was told that I could keep it in the building and would accompany the NBA team to see the President so I can present my painting MYSELF. I have a right of ownership over my work and should not be denied. Please sir… go and ask them if they had any transfer document from me on the painting”

NBA is yet to make an official statement on this issue. Meanwhile the letter of demand issued by the chambers of Mr. Femi Falana SAN on behalf of Mr. Olubakin has been delivered to the NBA.

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The end to this is definitely not near.


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