Social and news media have reported the suspension of Mr. Bayo Akinlade as Chairman by the NEC of NBA. I received the information with surprise. It reminds me of ‘congress’ in my days in LASU and LASUSU. Oration, grandstanding and personae more than reason rules congress. Akinlade’s case exposes the weakness of leadership. For background. The erstwhile national Exco sent two sets of committees to conduct elections in Ikorodu. The tussle in the branch was hectic. It was difficult not to either take side or play politics. In the end, the second committee cleared Gloria Cassius to contest as VC. But she was disqualified again minutes to commencement of elections so Ogbaide won by default unopposed. After election, Cassius petitioned the new Exco and the 2nd VP was given the task to investigate and recommend. She recommended a new election. Branch resolved on a date for election and VP was duly carried along. 2 days to election, Ogbaide petitioned and alleged that there would be election because the VP colluded with some Arthur Obi Okafor people to remove him. The Gen Sec therefore ordered a halt. The election held and the Chairman got suspended for insubordination and would face the LPDC. Somebody raised the motion and it was adopted. A few issues agitate my mind.
1. Is NBA an association or a council? I mean is it a professional group for the welfare of its members or a regulatory body? Let me spell it further if you offend an association, is it entitled of its own to send you out of the profession or job when your action is not one that denotes professional misconduct? Or finally, is professional misconduct to disobey your association?
2. Is NBA ready for that level of authority? I mean I was in Port Harcourt when Lanke Odogunyan Esq. was accused of representing NBA in some bodies without approval and was asked to back down. A one-man riot squad. It was a class act in grandstanding. He won against the riotous reprimand. I was in Oshogbo when Rabana Esq. (as he then was) was asked to account for money and he simply explained it off as lost money and blasted everyone who had contrary view. He won. Akinlade is put to sword for relying on his written answers to the GS’s petition which was not even read at the assizes. When it happens to others and new yardsticks are introduced, it could bring us to question the raison d’être. And that brings the third question.
3. Am I tied permanently to NBA? That looks like a repeat of the first question or is embedded in it. But with fundamental rights and freedom of (dis)association, will it be right? Don’t tell me about one judgment. Is it right?
4. By its decision, the national body has conducted the local election and Ogbaide is the winner. Unfortunately, he has a bad reputation and that was the original sin. He once suggested that I changed my surname because when people turn 50 in my family, they run mad. There was no altercation before it. He just woke up in the morning and posted it. Just last week, he referred to the members as mumu and morons. He stole our money as Chairman of a committee and never won a contested election. Am I bound to be ruled by that man? Are we entitled to removed him as acting Chairman? Am I permitted to opt out?
5. Now back to the merit of the cause. I reiterate that there is no question of superiority contest. The larger body reigns and we must understand and appreciate that. To that extend, like the constitution anything contrary to the grundnorm suffers ignominy. But is the constitution infallible or untestable? An issue that the national body had discussed and the 2VP is updated at all material time with postings from the branch secretary ought not go awry. The 2nd Vice President has an integrity issue with majority NBA Ikorodu members who went to vote on the basis of her nod albeit before the GS’s letter. I hope the President will reconsider the appeal of the branch when it is made lest it is seen as treating us as ‘Obote men’ as Ogbaide’s petition portends.
6. Overall, with elections holding up until March and EFCC interfering in branch matters while there is a national body; Are we on course?
SOK Shillings is Former Chairman NBA Ikorodu