NBA Election and the Politics of “Adoption”

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There are two things that may never settle well with me as a lawyer in Nigeria. They are, the geopolitical zoning of NBA leadership and the adoption of candidates for NBA election by the various tribal groups within the profession.

In my humble view, which I am entitled to, this is a serious indictment on the nobility of the legal profession and the integrity of its practitioners in this part of the world. By jove, let Nigeria and Nigerians swim inside this tribal and religious shenanigans, let the entire country be divided along tribal and religous line but not  lawyers ? But, I have also come to realize that we pick and choose when to claim these things. We are all Nigerians after all.

Without much ado, let me go to the main issue of this my evening muse. Candidate Adoption. What does it mean?

Prior to the adoption of Universal Sufferage in the NBA electoral process, leaders at the national level were elected (probably selected) through the delegate system. Through delegate system, nominated representatives from all the NBA Branches in the country converge at an agreed venue to elect the officers into various posts of the NBA National Leadership.

Since the delegate system did not all members of the association to vote, one was able to see a some form of sense in caucusing amongst the delegates to agree on common fronts during the election, particularly as elective posts are zoned by geopolitical spread.

Although not backed by the NBA Constitution, members of the association have formed various groups along tribal lines to project what they consider beneficial to their respective tribes. The Arewa Forum, Eastern Bar Forum, Egbe Amofin, Akwa-Cross are prominent in the tribal segmentation of members of the association.

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With the advent of the universal sufferage (God bless Augustine Aleghe led Exco), I doubt if the adoption system hasn’t outlived its relevance in the NBA politics. I am at a loss as to why an elective position zoned to a partcular tribe would be subjected again to adoption by the same tribe. Would that not be tantamount to a father favouring one child more than the other?

I recall that during the last contested election, Cheif Arthur Obi Okafor SAN was endorsed by the Ester Bar Forum as the consensus Presidential Candidate. That was an election where the NBA Presidency was zoned to the Eastern part of the country. Inspite of the endorsement, Chief Okafor SAN didn’t win the election. Paul Usoro SAN, who may be argued to be from a minority block, won the election, putting the two Easterners in second and third positions. Would history repeat itself with the Egbe Amofin’s endorsement of a Presidential Candidate? Time…

I am just musing!


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