Adedotun Habeeb Adetunji, Esq. LL.M, (M.IoD), FCAI,Bares Why He Is The Most Suitable and Qualified Candidate For The Office of The 1st Vice President of the NBA; Talks About His Involvement in The NBA and His Quest To Reactivate The NBA Human Rights Institute Among Other Sundry Matters.

Adedotun Habeeb Adetunji is one of the foremost aspirants into the position of the 1st Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in the forthcoming Elections of 29th and 30th of July, 2020. A Legal practitioner who has shown himself to be a distinguished personality with a very robust experience and resume.

Mr. Adedotun, who is a former Chairman of the NBA, Ikorodu branch granted a session of interview with the Bar and Bench News on why he is the most suitable candidate for the position of the 1st Vice President bearing in mind the constitutional duties of the office holder, on how he intends to work with the President when elected among other host of burning issues.

Below is the excerpt of the interview.

*Q1* :  Tell us your name and a summary of my political personality.

*ANS*: I am yours sincerely; Prince Habeeb Adedotun Adetunji. I am a Legal Practitioner, Chattered Mediator and Notary Public for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I was called to the bar over 25 years ago. I have been very active in the affairs of the bar for a while. I was once the Vice Chairman of NBA Ikorodu Branch (2010-2012) and the Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the branch(2010-2012); Chairman, branch bye-law review Committee(2012-2013) and Chairman of the branch from 2014-2016 among various other positions held. I was also a NEC Rep by virtue of my Chairmanship and was elected the NEC Rep of my branch in 2016 and 2018 making me the Nep Rep till date.  I was a member of the Lagos State Advisory Committee on Pre-rogative of Mercy(2014-2017) advising the Lagos State Governor on matters relating to the Correctional centers and also served on the Governing Council of the Lagos State Multi-Court House (LMDC).
I belong to many social clubs and associations including pro-people civil society organisations concerned with bringing about qualitative transformation and desirable changes in social conditions.  I have attended many bar conferences including those organized by the West Africa Bar Association (WABA), African Bar Association (ABA), American Bar Association (ABA), Pan-African Lawyers' Union (PALU) and the International Bar Association (IBA). I have insight into their governance method and methodology which I believe the NBA can incorporate as appropriate. The foregoing naturally constitutes the very essence of my political personality. Better conditions of living and qualitative professionalism are thus at the core of my political personality.

*Q2*: It is all on the NBA news that you are vying for the National position of the 1st Vice President. Can you kindly give us insight into your ambition? 

*Q3*: Could you please explain what prompted you or your decision to run for the post of First Vice President.

*ANS*: Kindly permit me to answer *questions *2* and *3* together as they are similar and inter-related. As I explained earlier, I have served in many capacities in my branch and in NBA NEC for many years. I have equally been exposed to the structures and modus operandi of other regional, continental and global bodies like the NBA  but I am not satisfied that the Nigerian Lawyer is not receiving enough satisfaction and fulfilment from the NBA to which he pays annual practising fees and branch dues especially at the national level. My aspiration is therefore predicated on the realisation that there is a *missing link* in the Presidency of our Noble and Great association that I can *conveniently* *adequately* fill through the office of the First Vice President with the support of NEC and the AGC when the time comes once my colleagues elect me into office. The gaps have been too obvious in the last three consecutive regimes! I want to be an instrument to close up the gaps in the coming administration. My desire is to make the NBA Presidency truly complete, inclusive, functional and impactful. The 3 Vices are part and parcel of the presidency and they are not to be mutually exclusive. I want to remove the exclusiveness and make the presidency holistic. The NBA is known to lead advocacy for social justice and human rights promotion and protection in Nigeria.  Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. Let's discuss ideas and ideals because I am an idealist realist. Pragmatism is my concern. There would be a National Social Justice, Human Rights Promotion and Protection Summit to be convened by the NBA with individual and organisational stakeholders in attendance. The National Human Rights Commission, CDHR, CLO, ERA, HEDA, SERAP, HURISA, CICLAC, PLAQ, MAC, CDD, Access to Justice, HRM, MRA, NLC, TUC, ASUU, NMA, NUJ and others too numerous to mention now 'll meet to review and ensure the expansion of the human rights and social justice frontiers (including public interest litigation) in Nigeria.  We certainly need to share and even democratise knowledge, make connections and expand the legal cum democratic space. The NBA has to work in concert to regain and safeguard the ideals of citizenship and public service that was once the pride of our profession.
Again, the NBA Human Rights Institute should be reactivated. The Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) Prize for Social Justice inaugurated about 10 years ago which has regrettably been in a state of suspended animation 'll be resuscitated and made an annual event like the AGC given its flagship status. It brings or it is capable of bringing enormous goodwill, pride and attention to the NBA so we should be more interested in its continuity. Furthermore, the three Vices are the eyes and ears of the President in the respective three zones they are assigned by Mr. President. There'll be healthy competitions within the zones and between the branches in many areas such that we 'll now have the Best Branch Award, the Best Law Week Award et al. These and more are some of the initiatives I am bringing on board if my colleagues give me the required mandate. 
The foregoing is in addition to the constitutionally entrenched duties of the First Vice President which I am very conversant with and fully prepared for and I am cocksure we are going to have a broad-minded, cerebral, globally exposed, experienced and pragmatic President that 'll strategically drive us to the appointed destination with ease, in unison and colourfully, too.
I want to join my co-officers, NEC & the AGC to leave meaningful, positive and indelible marks on the sand of time. I agree, in toto, with the immortal words of the first Nigerian Lawyer, the late Sapara Williams, that the legal practitioner lives for, and must be concerned with, the advancement of his society. In the same vein, Theodore Roosevelt had correctly opined long ago that "everyman owes something to the upbuilding of his profession." Our shared professionalism and humanity matter a great deal.

*Q4*: We would appreciate you to expose us to your political involvement and what makes you think you are a good fit for the position?

*ANS*: Thank you for this question. I have been an active participant in the affairs of the bar; locally, nationally and globally.  I've been a Vice Chairman, Chairman and NEC Rep. I have organised Law Weeks, I have attended all Annual General Conferences for more than two decades.
I have observed the presidency and vice presidency of the bar very closely especially in recent time understudying closely all the past six (6) First Vice Presidents from the 23rd to the 29th, namely;  the late Chief Akuro George (RIP) from Port Harcourt branch under Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) presidency (2006 -2008), Ikeazor Akaraiwe, Esq. from Enugu branch under His Excellency,  Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) presidency (2008-2010), Blessing Ukiri, Esq. (RIP) from PH branch under  J. B. Daudu (SAN) presidency (2010-2012),  O. J. Erahbor, Esq. from Ilesa branch under Okay Wali (SAN) presidency (2012-2014), Francis Ekwere, Esq.  from Eket branch under Augustin Alegeh (SAN) presidency (2014-2016), Caleb G. Dajan, Esq. from Jos branch under A. B. Mahmud (SAN) presidency (2016-2018)  and the incumbent; Imo Stanley Chidozie, Esq under Paul Usoro (SAN) presidency. I am therefore fully prepared and completely ready as the most suitably qualified candidate for the tasks ahead.

*Q5*: Sir, we are aware that there are about 5 of you running for the same post. Do you consider any of the other aspirants a threat to your chances? 

*ANS*: As at today, we are actually six (6) candidates including a female colleague who has indicated interest in the office. We are lawyers and have the right to contest. However, there is a strong possibility that given the facts on ground, competence, capacity, integrity, seniority, maturity, service experience and exposure will come to play, there is certainly no threat to my candidature.

*Q6*: Please, in few words, tell us about your moral values.

*ANS*: It is often said that morality has no basis in law. I disagree. My view is that any law that is not grounded in morality is likely to be a bad law. My moral values revolve around whatever is good, just, manly, honourable, ethical and of good behaviour.
Unfortunately, unethical disposition is getting increasingly alarming in the legal profession in particular and the Nigerian society in general. We need to arrest and curtail it. If we do not frontally confront and collectively decisively defeat the anomalies, we are really in grave danger of grave peril and perdition. God forbid! It is important for us to remember that if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. Apologies to Bishop Desmond Tutu.

*Q7*: Kindly share with us what you think you can do differently in that position away from the norm.

*ANS*: A very good poser, this is.  Programatic initiatives engendered by professionalism, welfarism,  innovativeness, internal democracy or if you like inclusiveness,  experience, maturity, honesty, integrity coupled with selflessness are the greatest assets I believe I am bringing to the table for the benefits of generality of lawyers in our polity. The relevance of the bar is anchored on the continued promotion and protection of the interest of its members.

*Q8*: Description of the political space of the NBA at the moment.

*ANS*: The political space of the NBA is open and more democratic now. Before now, elections were conducted by delegates system and a venue was usually fixed for this with the attendant discomfiture and inconveniences. This is no longer the case with the advent of universal suffrage or direct election through electronic or internet voting whereby every qualified Legal Practitioner can vote  in his room within a given period of time for a candidate of his or her choice with little or no inconvenience. There has been some complaints here and there about this new module but I think we shall overcome. The question of zonal adoption is yet another challenge; it seems to generate some reservations but in the final analysis, the will of the people shall prevail.

*Q9*: Recomendations NBA should improve on or about elections.

*ANS*: Firstly, there is urgent need to improve on the accreditation process in terms of provision of enough time and adequate complaints and redress options. Secondly, there must be satisfactory voters education for members. Thirdly, all the candidates must be enlightened prior to voting  on the modality of accreditation, voting and counting ab initio to avoid misunderstanding of the process. The fourth suggestion is that a clear-cut, credible and acceptable election dispute resolution  process should be put in place so as to avoid incessant and embarrasing litigation that have characterized NBA elections lately, and finally, an election review forum should hold where stakeholders can come to compare notes, exchange ideas and recommend better methodologies, if any.

*Q10* Kindly in summary tell us how you intend to work amicably with any President elected by the NBA without conflict of personality?
*ANS*:  First and foremost, the President is  the Leader of the National Officers and Number One Lawyer so as the Captain of the Team and Symbol of the Bar, proper respect and honour must be accorded him at all times.  Expectedly, the President is expected to be broad-minded, cerebral, accommodating and a perfect Gentleman who will bring all officers together as a team. On my part, I am a team player and I know that in a team, there will always be differences in perspectives, ideas, approaches and understanding due to different backgrounds and peculiarities. With internal democracy, openness, and frank discussions,  conflicts would be minimized, if not completely eliminated.
Adedotun Habeeb Adetunji, Esq

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