Senior Advocate of Nigeria and distinguished Bar Leader, Yunus Ustaz Usman SAN has said the person that should occupy the office of the President of the Bar in the forthcoming NBA Election must be a person who does not hawk or engage in bar merchandise.
Mr. Usman SAN said this in a paper titled Restoring the Glory of the Bar and the Nation.
“It is only one who does not hawk or engage in bar merchandise that can reposition the Bar to address present bar and national challenges as well as global realities. We need such a leader as our next NBA President. No more, No less.”
“We need a leader who through courage and good conscience, can consolidate on previous giant innovative strides and address the ills that threaten the Bar in order to make the NBA not just relevant to our country but even to the world.”
He said the only way the Bar can remain in the vintage position of being the guardian of the conscience of the people would be for its members to elect leaders who are above suspicion and above board.
In his words, “all over the civilized world, the Bar is the guardian of the conscience of the people.
“This vintage position cannot be achieved unless those who are elected to lead the Bar are like Caesar’s wife, above suspicion and above board.”
He stated that monetizing the NBA is the same as saying goodbye to the observance of rule of law and freedom of any society.
“This should not be construed to mean that as a lawyer, you cannot charge millions from a single brief: that is contractual and clean money but to be sponsored by politicians with a view to making NBA election a purchasable merchandize is to say goodbye to the observance of rule of law and freedom of any society.”
“This is why in electing the next NBA President, the use of money must not be the determining factor. Someone who has purchased his election will have to recoup his investment (Principal plus Interest) before thinking of serving the Bar.”
“It is in our collective interest to look out for those who have the qualities of service, the resilience of steel, time tested experience and integrity and all the virtues that will subdue the present vices of the Bar. It is only an incorruptible leader who can dare to fight corruption.”
Speaking on the NBA under the leadership of the late Alao Akaa-Bashorun, the Learned Silk stated:
“It was at the NBA National Conference in 1988 that we were elected National Officers of the Association. I was the second National Assistant Secretary. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (now Governor of Ondo State) was elected Publicity Secretary. It was an annual election then. I did not, between me and God, My Maker, bribe or spend one kobo for the election. It was the period when Babangida was the Military dictator. Babangida was feared by every Nigerian. But Babangida feared the NBA then under the leadership of Alao Aka-Bashorun.”
“Babangida dared not detain any NBA member then because of the fearless and incorruptible leadership of the NBA. To break that strength, Babangida started appointing NBA Presidents as Attorney-General and that was how NBA lost its strength.”
“Okopo was a courageous president, so was Olanipekun. Akeredolu was a courageous and pragmatic president. Daudu was a courageous leader so was Alegeh. A. B. Mahmoud is gentle, but fearless and amiable.”
“Unless we come back today to elect NBA leaders of 1988 calibre, we will have ourselves to blame if we are treated as irrelevant in the scheme of things.”
He also faulted the two years tenure for National Leaders of the bar noting that this period is too short for an innovative President of the Bar.
“Also, the two year period for elective position is too short for an innovative President such as A. B. Mahmood to finalize his developmental projects.”
“ If all elective political offices such as that of the president of Nigeria, Governors and members of the legislative houses are of a 4 year term each, why is the NBA different?”
“There is therefore the need to amend the NBA constitution accordingly and immediately too.” The Bar Leader noted.