“Your vote is an instrument of change, as such not a commodity to be bought”
By virtue of Section 9(4) of the Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association (2015) ‘Election into National offices shall be by universal suffrage and electronic voting as set out in the second schedule’, by the second schedule ‘All members of the association shall be eligible to vote at the general election for National Executives, provided that such member must belong to a branch and must have paid both their practicing fees and branch dues as at when due i.e before March, 31st of every year, and are duly ascertained to vote at that election.
This translates to mean any legal professional financially up to date with practicing fees and branch dues as at when due, and a registered member of a branch is eligible to vote. In Wikipedia’s word, democracy is a system of government in which the citizens exercise power directly or elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body, such as a parliament. Democracy is sometimes referred to as ‘rule of majority’.
The same applies in the Nigerian legal industry, every two years lawyers are given the opportunity to elect officers of the national executive of NBA. With the coming of universal suffrage and electronic voting, every ascertained member of the NBA can elect officers of their choice in the comfort of their homes via internet, unlike in before when delegates where sent from branches. By estimate, around 6,000 lawyers caste their votes at the last NBA national election of 2016, out of over 100,000 lawyers that we have in the industry.
It is not enough to only comment on the problems facing the legal profession, for the majority to rule, majority of the number of lawyers should participate actively in being part of proffering viable solutions to solve the problem. For the opinion of the majority to count, the majority of lawyers in the legal industry ought to be eligible to partake in deciding the fate of the profession.
Most avoidable problems of the past have become stumbling blocks in modern day legal practice development, because for so long a time, many legal professionals have stood on the sidelines while the minority number decides the fate of the association. There are so many lawyers in the country plying their trade in other industries who are completely unaware of the activities of the NBA, making it ironic that in Nigeria we have members called to Nigerian Bar who do not associate with the NBA.
The importance of networking and fellowship with learned friends in the growth of a legal professional cannot be overemphasised. Elections are conducted for members to elect representatives of their choice. We all owe it as an obligation to the legal profession to decide those who run the affairs of the association using merit as a yardstick.
It is imperative that lawyers yet to associate with a branch are encouraged to be part of one, and become eligible to forge a future for the association. The many who do not partake in activities of the association might be the ones with the right ideas and solutions to the numerous challenges faced by a Nigerian lawyer.
It is only natural that when elections come, several members indicate interest; manifestoes of how to take the association to greater heights are created, and then eligible members elect officers of the national executive. It is one thing for your vote to count, and another for your vote to actually count, that is why the Nigerian lawyer must protect his/her vote to ensure it actually counts.
Many would come with promises to transform the legal profession into a safe haven for all, with idealistic and theoretical projects that can literarily change the life of a legal professional on paper, and then do otherwise when they eventually become executive officers of the association.
In performing our obligation to the profession by casting our votes, we must follow up such obligation by ensuring that the right person for the job is saddled with the responsibility to lead the association.
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Culled: dailytrust By Daniel Bulusson