MATTERS OF THE BAR 3 :ELECTIONS- By S.O.K Shillings, Esq. (The Pen Master))


In the world of democracy, leaders are chosen by election or selection. In either case, the 'animal' in the being comes to fore even among the cremest dela creme.

The struggle to defend interest takes different dimension from the most beautiful campaigns to the ugliest of rigging and some elements of violence. Disagreements in many branches lead to court and in a rare case to a permanent schism.

The NBA elections are not properly guided by law/rules. You can read in the constitution of lawyers that the 'decision' of the election committee 'is final'.

The law prohibits campaigns before the committee issues guidelines but says nothing about campaign before committee is put in place. So many cosmetic injunctions without reprisals. Ages are specified for offices without definition (see Bar Matters 2)

The Alegeh regime boldly introduced the novel universal sufferage vide electronic voting. But it has been used in 2 elections that were contested in court giving credibility problem. Events overtook the battles but perhaps not the injuries. In any case, I read that the last US elections were rigged (a. k. a. 'hacked').

The computer cliché is: garbage-in, gabbage-out. It is the instructions the computer receives that it perfects. Who is/are instructing the NBA election computers?

So much beautiful promises, so little deliveries. The core values are lost, monies 'chopped' and wasted and it is a long search for a replica of Alao Aka Bashorun. I wait for the day I will receive a token free souvenir from the national body. This is without prejudice to the little efforts made by the different regimes.

In the absence of practical institutional (re)appraisal, like the 4th Mainland bridge in Lagos, the promises of Eldorado to 'young lawyers' is the perennial fraud in NBA. (Un)Fortunately, it is a group in transit just as governance transits.

A lot of efforts have been made to reduce the influence of money and to make rulership go round hence the resort to the geo-zones and groupings and the introduction of 'adoptions'.

To a large extent, these geo-groups have worked, but there are clamours for further subdivisions and adoptions are failing in the absence of mutual respect and universal voting. In any case, the groups do not have real legal strength. But now that the Eastern Bar Forum has established structure and Egbe Amofin is embarking on building a secretariat, are they just about elections?

I suggest as follows:

1. Individuals' actions in elections which are unexpected of lawyers could attract disciplinary measures. And they should include rigging and forgeries.

2. During the delegates period, there was manifestos night. The Election Committee should organise e-manifestos comparison and heckling and presidential candidates should sign and submit their manifestos.

3. While we have not created a justice system to cater for our own needs, there should be a committee to sit like a court and deliver ruling within 2 weeks after elections. The trustees should be involved here.

NB: God forbid that government fears the Bar and explores election issues to destabilize us.

4. The next Election Committee must, upon inauguration define 'age', lift the 'ban' and sell forms soonest. Branch elections must end in August. Zonal Election Tribunals should be created, must set out early and its decisions made final. Are we not lawyers?

5. The geo-zones need not be further demarcated lest our selfish desires open new vistas.

6. Qualifications for lesser positions should be raised. I find it abnormal that someone not known in the branch wakes up and becomes a national officer. In fact, some positions end up not contested for and could be filled by a courageous 'nobody'.

7. Like the financial management roadmap, the Paul Usoro regime owes a duty to bequeath an enduring electoral system which should be worked out before NEC meets next.

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