“What I always tell my colleagues is that, you build your career in practice, then come back to serve the bar, and mentor the young ones.” – President A.B. Mahmoud, OON (SAN)
A legal practitioner with the facebook name Che Oyinatumba wrote on his timeline “the truth of the matter is we need a shift from regular NBA politicians, they chant that Alegeh (SAN) brought fresh innovations into the NBA, but fail to tell you that Alegeh wasn’t a career NBA politician as at the time he took office. In fact, Alegeh never held any post in his Benin branch and was co-opted into NEC by Joseph Daudu, SAN which qualified him to contest in line with the pre-2015 NBA constitution”.
While this comment brought with it many contrary comments from the likes of Mazi Obioma Ezenwodo, and Abass Sanni, our focus of discussion is the ‘NBA career politicians’.
It is worthy to state at this point for the avoidance of misconception, that a bar man is different from an NBA career politician, ‘not all Bar men are NBA career politicians, but all NBA career politicians are Bar men’.
Professor Ernest Ojukwu (SAN) in his interview with the Young wig defined a Bar man as “the legal professional that is active in the life and affairs of the association including payment of all necessary dues and contributions as at when due at branches, participation in the activities of the association at least at the local branches including social and welfare support for other members especially the Young and Vulnerable, volunteering services for the association and taking part in active and productive leadership roles.”
Sadly, in all the comments that followed Che Oyinatumba’s post, no one gave a definition of who an NBA career politician is. However from inference, an NBA career politician is a legal professional that focuses his entire practice on seeking one elective/appointment role in the NBA secretariat every two (2) years. Simply put an NBA career politician is a legal professional whose legal practice is centred on NBA politics.
If you ask me, a legal professional’s contribution to the improvement of a particular area of legal practice should be the basis upon which a lawyer is called upon to serve the association. Take for Instance, the just concluded unusual first of its kind NBA-AGC put together by the NBA – Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP), 2017 led by Prof. Koyinsola Ajayi (SAN) who is not an NBA career politician but was called upon to serve based on his profile and the TCCP did deliver; the same can be said of the current NBA president.
To my mind, there is something about NBA politics that degenerates a gentleman of the bar to a political thug/tout, or maybe there is simply something about politics generally that makes otherwise learned friends become enemies because of difference in political ideology or choice of candidate.
Some colleagues even go as far as exchanging insulting words at each other in contravention of Rule (26) of the Rules of Professional Conduct 2007 that states: “Lawyers shall treat one another with respect, fairness, consideration and dignity, and shall not allow any ill feeling between opposing clients to influence their conduct and demeanour towards one another.”
There is nothing wrong in actively participating in activities of the association, be it in the national or branch level, paying your mandatory dues, attending monthly meetings, NBA–YLF annual summit, or the NBA–AGC. Someone said ‘Your Network is your Net Worth’, and so it is not advisable for learned colleagues to ignore the gathering of their fellow colleagues.
Having said the above, every NBA career politician is first a legal practitioner, and so the primary goal ought to be the improvement of his/her legal practice, the achievements in practice should be the basis upon which a lawyer is called upon to serve the association.
In sum, it is one thing to be a Bar man, it is another to be an NBA career politician. Being a Bar man encourages professional growth amongst colleagues, while being an NBA career politician has the tendency of dampening the professional growth of the legal practitioner involved. The overall effect of either determines the growth or otherwise of the legal industry.
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By: Daniel Bulusson Esq
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