The elections have come and gone. We heartily congratulate Mr Paul Usoro, SAN, on his victory as the next NBA President. It was a keenly contested election, but someone had to win because nature abhors vacuum. Now that you, a respected Silk, Mr Usoro, has been declared winner, we urge you to be high-minded in victory; reach out to other contestants, indeed to all camps and also endeavour to carry everyone along in your headship of the NBA, during the next two years. This you have to do in order to succeed.
Your supporters alone cannot make you succeed; they can only make you remain for only one side! Which would mean that, unfortunately, you are not for all, but for only some! This is the greatest of all of Nigeria’s problems – the wrong notion that only those who helped us to ascend the throne could make us succeed on the throne! As Michael Watson once advised, true winners and strong people don’t put others down, they lift them up. Leaders that aim to succeed must adopt all-inclusiveness as their motto, so as to be able to create an environment in which all individuals and sections feel empowered to express their opinions freely within the larger group. Leaders ought also to realize that diversity of thinking is critical to effective collaboration and management; thus, they must pay close attention to team composition and team processes in order to fish out all capable hands to work with for success.
To Teacher Prof Ojukwu, SAN, we thank you immensely for demonstrating that you are a gentleman, by your decision to not contest the results of the election. Below were your words:
“Though a winner has emerged from this present contest, remember that we contested against corruption, massive vote buying, vote capture, rigging and a skewed process. These reasons make a challenge of the result important but because of my long and selfless commitment to regenerating the Bar, and the need not create tension in our legal profession I shall not contest it.”
Yes, there were genuine concerns about the manner the elections were organised and contested, and the monumental manipulations that were reported to have accompanied the process. People have genuine reasons to believe that all did not go well with the process, and that something is therefore fundamentally wrong. But, the Nigerian Bar belongs to us all; we must not shy away from it, nor from our responsibilities as bar-men, however bad we think things have got.
We must remain together in love and peace, cooperating with and advising the leaders, on how to get things right and better in future with a view to making the NBA better and greater, because NBA is supposed to be the cynosure of all eyes, a leading light, and a perfect example for other sectors and professional groups to copy from. It is unfortunate it is not yet there. However, with all hands placed on the deck, we would arrive the promised land. We therefore appeal to all other contestants to accept the result the way it is and let us move ahead as one, in the best interest of the NBA and legal practice in Nigeria.
To respected Leaned Silk, Mr Arthur Obi Okafor, we humbly appeal to you to please reconsider your rejection of the results. In our opinion, there was no need to have withdrawn from the contest at the end of the exercise. We, as lawyers, were taught that once one has submitted himself to the jurisdiction of a court, or body, one is bound by the decisions of the body; one is then estopped from withdrawing midway. This is because one would obviously not have withdrawn if the results had gone one’s way. We appreciate the reasons for your concerns, but we would rather you did not throw the baby away with the bath water. Dear Learned Silk, Sir, the pain you feel today is the strength you would feel tomorrow. For every challenge encountered, there is an opportunity for growth. We therefore suggest you accept the result as it is, with equanimity, and also to enjoin your teeming supporters to accept the results and be prepared to cooperate with the declared winners in order to move the Nigerian Bar Association forward.
To those lawyers who feel so aggrieved that they have now, reportedly, begun mobilising and mooting the idea of a parallel organisation, we have one piece of advice for you; if you are disgusted with the ills of an organization and you desire to correct it, you would better achieve the reform you seek from within than from the outside. All problems become smaller when you confront them instead of trying to dodge them. As Russell L. Ackoff puts it, we fail more often because we solve the wrong problem than because we get the wrong solution to the right problem.” We agree with this, because running away from a problem only increases the distance from the solution.
Finally, to those lawyers who happen to be fortunate to find themselves on the camp of the declared winners, you must see people on the other side as co-winners, because you or your masters alone are not in any position to effect any positive change, save with the willing cooperation of fellow members of the bar. We therefore earnestly urge you to see all other members of the bar as co-winners. The truth is that, a leader has not begun leading until the leader has learned to rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all members of society he leads, and in fact the whole of humanity. In Jesse Jackson’s words, “inclusiveness is not a matter of political correctness. It is the key to growth. When everyone is included, everyone wins.” Here is our final word for all lawyers in Nigeria – the winners, losers, and all. We must learn to unite, cooperate, relate and work together as true learned friends, or be prepared to perish together as fools. (apology to Martin Luther King, Jr.)
Long live the Nigerian Bar Association!
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!
(NonGovernmental, NonProfit, NonPolitical & NonAligned)