It is no longer news that Ezekiel O.  Bodunde, the NBA Ikeja Young Lawyers Forum Chairman was suspended by the NBA Ikeja Branch Chairman, Mr. Dele Oloke. Much ink has been spilled on the matter and the facts are in the public domain.

I am not a member of NBA Ikeja YLF but the impact of this action by the leadership of the NBA Ikeja has touched the souls of every young lawyer in Nigeria. Is this the empowerment we were promised when you campaigned for elections? Is this how to treat a disadvantaged member of the legal community? If this how to protect young lawyers?

All NBA Executives take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association. It appears that many Lawyers have either forgotten or are not aware of the purpose for which the NBA exists. Section 3 (1) (b) of the NBA Constitution 2015 (as amended) provides that the NBA shall engage in the “Promotion and advancement of Legal Education, Continuing Legal Education, Advocacy and Jurisprudence.”

To put this in proper perspective, the brouhaha in Ikeja is over a Continuing Legal Education program organized by the YLF! This event would add value to all young lawyers within the branch. Is that not the core function of the YLF? According to the erudite Law Lord, Niki Tobi, JSC (as he then was) in Alhaji Atiku Abubakar & Ors v Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua “This is one thing that will make the Hausa man, exclaim haba!”

Let’s tell ourselves the truth, the NBA is a mirror of our larger society. Unless we have a paradigm shift, we will face the music, not the future. Our leaders and elders need to embrace innovation instead of seeing novelty and advancement as insubordination and a power tussle. The world is moving forward and leaving us behind. It is no coincidence that the most innovative NBA branches which are under attack by the same backwards-thinking mentality- I am talking of NBA Abuja and Ikorodu- and the national NBA isn’t doing anything to protect the leadership of these two Branches. No one is fooled, the world is watching.

I am in no way advocating for wanton disregard for laid down Branch Regulations but methinks that in this case, the YLF ought to have been given the benefit of the doubt. Even the Good Book in Prov. 23:23 says “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding”.

True empowerment involves delegation and independence. Young Lawyers Forum as a fora established and recognized by the NBA Constitution should enjoy some autonomy from the Branch. I humbly implore the Executive Chairman of NBA Ikeja Branch reinstate the suspended YLF Chairman.

When someone charged the renowned General Ulysses S. Grant, in the President’s hearing, with drinking too much liquor, President Abraham Lincoln, recalling Gen. Grant’s successes, said that if he could find out what brand of whisky Gen. Grant drank, he would send a barrel of it to all the other commanders.

You don’t need to be Abraham Lincoln to know that YLF needs Ezekiel Bodunde! We need more young lawyers like Bodunde who recognize that mental poverty is Africa’s biggest problem. Mr. Bodunde, you are always welcome in Abuja.

I salute our leaders, Afam Osigwe, Desmond Yamah, Ezenwa Anumnu and current Chairman of the NBA Abuja Branch, Folarin Aluko for their unflinching support for young lawyers. God bless you.

Olatunji Atoyebi is the NBA Abuja (Unity Bar) YLF Chairman.

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