‘Don’t mortgage your future for peanuts, demand what is rightfully yours by voting wisely’
Section 9(4) of the Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association (2015), states that, “Election into national offices shall be by universal suffrage and electronic voting as set out in the Second Schedule” and that “All members of the association shall be eligible to vote at the general elections for national executives provided that such members must belong to a branch and must have paid both their practicing fees and branch dues as at when due, i.e. before March 31 of every year, and are duly ascertained to vote at that election.”
This translates to mean that any legal professional who is a registered member of a branch and is financially up to date with practicing fees and branch dues as at when due is eligible to vote.
According to Wikipedia, “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 the majority’.”
The same applies in the Nigerian legal industry as every two years lawyers are given the opportunity to elect national executives of the 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 the internet, unlike in the hay days when delegates where sent from branches.
Around 6,000 lawyers casted their votes at the last NBA national election in 2016, out of the over 100,000 lawyers in Nigeria.
It is not enough to only comment on the problems facing the legal profession. Majority of the lawyers should participate actively in being part of proffering viable solutions to the problems. For the opinion of the majority to count, majority of the lawyers ought to be eligible to partake in deciding the fate of the profession.
Most avoidable problems have become stumbling blocks in modern day legal practice development because for a long time, majority of legal professionals stood on the sidelines while a minority decided 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 the Nigerian Bar who do not associate with the NBA.
In the NBA, elections are conducted for members to elect representatives of their choice. It is an obligation on us (lawyers) all to the legal profession to decide those who run the affairs of the association using merit as yardstick. Young lawyers make up majority of the voters, and are also internet-friendly, meaning if the young ones collectively decide to take a different approach to their welfare and status in the industry, by willingly and voluntarily voting who they feel is the best candidate, then we can rest assured that the NBA is all about a strong institution, and not strong people.
It is only natural that when elections come, several members indicate interest, manifestos 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 vote wisely this time around. Do not let anyone tell you who the best candidate is, rather, examine all candidates by yourself and choose who you feel will not neglect the young generation of lawyers.
Many will 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, and then do otherwise when they eventually become executive officers of the association.
Therefore, 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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