By Sylvester Udemezue (member, TCCP)
“Isn’t it kind of silly to think that tearing someone else down builds you up?” (Sean Covey)
It was Blake Lively who said, “People gossip. People are insecure, so they talk about other people so that they won’t be talked about. They point out flaws in other people to make them feel good about themselves.” Dear Bayo, I have just read your commentary published on 20 August 2020, on barristerNG and legaldeskng, each under the title, “NBA and the Tower of Babel.” You would permit me to lift a part of your admonition to NBA members and to the NBA NEC, as it appears in your commentary under reference:
“Find the courage to oppose all oppressive and wasteful conduct in the planning and execution of the coming virtual AGC. Resist every attempt to steal our tomorrow today!”
It’s obvious from the above that you believe that members of the current Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP), the Committee saddled with the responsibility of planning and executing the upcoming (2020) NBA Annual General Conference (NBA-AGC 2020), and the current NBA President are engaged in what you have chosen to refer to as “oppressive and wasteful conduct in the planning and execution of the coming virtual AGC.” Besides, according to you, both the TCCP members and the NBA national leadership are making attempts “to steal our tomorrow today.”
Apart from being a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the NBA, I am a member of the TCCP for the forthcoming NBA-AGC 2020, ably chaired by the very renowned Professor of Law, a Pastor of the Lord, distinguished Senior Advocate of Nigeria and head of one of the best and most respectable Law Firms in Nigeria, Prof Konyinsola Ajayi, SAN. The 2020 TCCP has as members other distinguished legal juggernauts, among whom are (1) Mr. Seni Adio, SAN, (2) Dr. Paul Ananaba, SAN, (3) Prof Oluyemisi Bamgbose, SAN, ;(4) Gbenga Oyebode, MFR, (5) George Etomi, Life Bencher, (6) Uche Obi, SAN, (7) Sani Hussaini Garun-Gabbas, SAN. There are other very well respected and noble Bar leaders who are members of this TCCP. Dear Bayo, these are the people you allege are attempting to steal from the NBA, alongside Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN!
Although Paul Usoro is the primary target, and at the receiving end, of your ludicrously relentless and groundless social media campaign of calumny and disparagement, that usually see you throwing unguarded malignant vituperative remarks at, and spreading unfounded chinwags against, the NBA Presidency under Usoro, yet this time, you completely forget that the NBA has in place a 33-member-strong Committee (TCCP) constituted to plan and execute the NBA 2020 Conference 2020 (NBA-AGC) and whose terms of reference extend to reporting back and rendering an account to the NBA leadership and to the NBA Annual General Meeting (NBA AGM) on how it (the TCCP) organized and executed the NBA-AGC 2020. One would have expected that an immediate past chairman of an NBA Branch, such as you are, who is supposed to be well aware of all what is involved in such NBA issues, should know better. Even if you have never been involved in the planning and execution of an NBA-AGC, the mere fact you have been a bar leader should be enough to keep you be abreast of certain goings-on within the NBA. Nevertheless, one wonders whether you speak out of total ignorance (I doubt this) or of outright mischief, or of both. There is also this view that you may have been so carried away, a sort of blinded (sorry to use this word), by your personal hatred for the person of Paul Usoro, SAN, that you have transferred that hatred to the entire NBA leadership and anything that has anything to do with it.
May I remind you that this is not about the person of Paul Usoro, SAN,but about usual and proper procedures within the NBA and standard best practices the world over. Whenever a committee is set up by the leadership of an organization, the committee ought to be allowed some free-hand to do its work, after which it renders a comprehensive account of its stewardship, which account is usually made public, to keep any interested member of the organization in a better position to interrogate and analyze the Committee’s account, including especially all incomes and expenditures. To return to the present discussion, dear Bayo, are you not aware that towards successful execution of its terms of reference the TCCP is empowered to source for and accept sponsorship and donations from well-meaning Nigerians and corporate organizations towards the planning and execution of the NBA Annual Conference? Are you not aware that the TCCP is expected to render an account of all such incomes and donations it received towards the Conference, and of all expenditures in respect thereof. This means that nothing is hidden; everything is in the open.
Come to think of it; how could you be in a good position to judge whether the NBA national leadership or the TCCP has “stolen” NBA`s money or otherwise engaged in any “wasteful spending” when the TCCP has not stated who the sponsors of the NBA-AGC 2020 are, how much donations it has received for this purpose, who the donors are, and how it has expended the funds it received from sponsors and donors in respected the Conference? Your style is honestly befuddling!
At this juncture, Bayo, could you permit me to ask you, have you never chaired a Committee? Or, as the immediate Chairman of NBA, Ikorodu Branch, did you not set up any Committee during your tenure? If you ever did, did the Committee not render their accounts or reports to you? Did you encourage members of your branch to prejudge the committee before presentation of its reports? If you were a member of any such Committee and someone else was publicly accusing you of all sorts of unimaginable things and saying all sorts of unprintable things against your Committee, when the committee’s work was yet to be concluded, how would you feel?
In the present case, how would you feel if after all your malignant campaign against the Paul Usoro-led NBA leadership and the TCCP for NBA-AGC 2020, it’s shown in the TCCP report (to be presented immediately after the NBA-AGC 2020) that transparency and prudence were given utmost respect, while no spending is “wasteful” nor any money stolen? How would you feel? Would you withdraw your premature, speculative, and rumour-driven and malice-full campaigns against the TCCP and against Mr Usoro? Would you apologize to the NBA and its membership for the damage your ill-timed campaign may have done to the name and reputation of the distinguished members of the 2020 TCCP for NBA-AGC, and to the present NBA national Leadership? Remember, as Wentworth Dillon once said, “words spoken can never be recalled.” So, how would you go about it?
Why engage in all these premature speculative, and preemptive actions, just because of your loathing against one man? Or, does your own brand of activism thrive in malignancy, mischief-making and bad-belle? Why can’t you and your co-travelers allow the TCCP for NBA-AGC 2020 to concentrate to do its job, after which it would render all necessary reports and accounts for all to see?
It is unfortunate that you could come out with this kind of commentary, that is wholly misrepresentative of reality. I have the following further advise to you.
- You talk about wasteful spending. Are you not aware that the outgoing Paul Usoro administration has been rated one of the most (if not the most) prudent and transparent NBA administrations in recent NBA history, judging from the openness of its activities, especially with reference to management of NBA funds? Can you validly dispute this?
- Are you not aware that the Paul Usoro administration has been presenting to the NBA members, since its inception, quarterly accounts and financial statement, which till date have hardly been faulted by anyone? All incomes and expenditure of the NBA national leadership are reflected for everyone to see and judge.
- Are you not aware that the previous NBA national leadership had left a total indebtedness of over N800 million naira, which was therefore inherited by the Paul Usoro administration? Are you not aware that NBA under Paul Usoro has settled much of this inherited debt?
- Are you not aware that the Paul Usoro administration is leaving behind in the coffers of the NBA, well over N600 million, after payments for all the projects it inherited and completed, for those it initiated and completed, and for all the other feats the administration has recorded, and after the administration has paid off much of the debt it inherited from the previous administration? Are you not aware that this is unprecedented in recent history of the NBA —- an NBA President leaving office and instead of incurring debts and liabilities for the NBA, turned around and (1) paid off much of the debts owed or left behind by a previous administration, (2) executed several projects of its own, and (3) still left behind over N600 in the coffers of the NBA!
- Are you not aware that the 2019 TCCP did not take any money from the NBA for the planning and execution of the 2019 NBA-AGC? Are you not aware that after the NBA-AGC 2019, the TCCP, ably chaired by Mr Gbenga Oyebode, MFR, and co-chaired by Mr. Olu Akpata, now NBA President-Elect, had returned about N200 million to the coffers of the NBA, being unspent funds from the incomes generated or realized by the TCCP for the planning and execution of the NBA-AGC 2019? Are you not aware that this had never happened in the history of the NBA? And yet, it happened under Paul Usoro, SAN, the same man you accuse of “wasteful spending” and of attempting to “steal” from the NBA! Are you not aware that most TCCP`s for past NBA-AGC`s, had instead of contributing or returning money to NBA coffers, had borrowed from the NBA or even incurred further debts and other liabilities for the NBA?
- I was a member of the 2019 TCCP that organized the NBA-AGC 2019. We had delivered what is today adjudged the best and most well-organized, widely-attended and perfectly-executed NBA-AGC in NBA`s history. About 12,000 lawyers had registered and attended the NBA-AGC 2019; this had never happened. And everyone went home with praises and commendations for the TCCP and for the Paul Usoro-led NBA national administration. Are you not aware of this? And are you not aware that over 16,000 lawyers have already registered for the forthcoming NBA-AGC 2020, and still counting?
Dear Bayo, I will stop here for now, but as I am used to advising you, please quit this your indulgence in the vain pursuit of shadows, and ridiculous propagation of barefaced falsehood, and learn to face true activism devoid of malicious and propagandist grandstanding — that is, if you are truly interested in true activism and social justice crusade; I doubt you are, although I am not too pessimistic! In the meantime, may I draw your attention to a certain Jewish proverb: “loose tongues are worse than wicked hands.” You may also wish to hearken unto Don Miguel Ruiz, who in his book, “The Four Agreements,” delivered the following rare counsel: “Be Impeccable With your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak … or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.” Finally, do not forget the golden rule: Treat others as you would want them to treat you.
Thank you, Bayo! Best professional regards.
Sylvester Udemezue (Udems)
(Member, NBA NEC & Member 2020 TCCP)