The Nigerian realities is one that will never come short in serving the nation with various intrigues and dramas, as with the dawn of every week something new pops up within the circles of the Nigerian socio discourse, something to keep the eagerly waiting Nigeria to grace these issues with breathtaking and eyebrow raising deadlines to serve the Nigerian people who will in return devour these various topics, trending them on the various pages of the social media space.
Replicating the pattern and workings of the usual conflicts between the People’s Democratic Party [PDP] and the All Progressive Congress [APC] the Nigerian Bar Association took to the Nigerian national scene to create a debacle within its structure, one that is unexpected from the highly revered profession and institution which is believed and regarded by many to be for the nobles in the human society. A fracas that could have been easily avoided if the house had been united as it claimed it was and if they had looked before they leaped.
Sequence to the last election of the association which saw to the emergence of OlumideAkpata as the next president of the association, an election which was considered to have been marred with various irregularities as claimed by some quarters. OlumideAkpata was elected the next executive president of the Nigerian Bar Association after overcoming stiff challenge from two Senior Advocates of Nigeria in the third national election of the body which was done via an electronic voting mode. The Forty-Seven year old lawyer is the first lawyer who is not a member of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria [SAN] to be elected President of the NBA in about three decades.
The reaction that trailed the outcome of the election was that of discontentment with the workings of the electoral processes, as many stakeholders and members of the Nigerian Bra Association claimed that the election was rigged, largely influenced as many of the registered electorates could not place their votes as it was claimed that many were disenfranchised.
The inadequacies of the process was acknowledged by the newly elected president who stated himself after the conduct of the virtual election that forhim, I say the shortcomings notwithstanding; those shortcomings did not materially impact on the process to the point that there was a subversion of the will of the people. While these issues arising from the conduct of the elections were hurriedly put to bed, the association had not taken a breather when it was plagued with another controversy, one that shook the very core of the association and will later go on to alter its structure and its very existence in Nigeria.
As the association made preparations for the inauguration of the newly elected president, OlumideAkpata as the 30th Executive President of the association, the planning committee had made plans to invite several speakers from Nigeria, which are, Vice President ‘YemiOsinbajo, former President Olusegun Obasanjo as well as the governors of Rivers and Kaduna states, NyesomWike and Nasir El-Rufai respectively.
It was recorded that a certain lawyer of the named UsaniOdum started an online petition which was aimed at stopping one of the invited guest, Mallam El-Rufai from speaking at the national conference of the association and he was able to gather over 3,000 signatures which eventually led to the association withdrawing its invitation request to the governor of Kaduna State Nasir El-Rufaifrom speaking at the event.
The governor of Kaduna who dis-invited was stopped from speaking at the event because of two main factors namely insecurity and alleged rule of laws violations. It was explained that the State of the dis-invited governor, El-Rufai had a record of 483 people who were killed between the months of January 2020 and the month of June 2020, a figure which is higher than the reported numbers of death in regions that are considered the territories of the Islamic religious terrorist sect, Boko Haram which are Borno with 290 reported numbers of killings, Adamawa state with 37 numbers of reported killings and Yobe with 35 numbers of reported killings, also adding to this, Governor El-Rufai’s invitation was rescinded over allegations that he had failed in numerous occasions to obey the rule of law, something which the association holds dear and upholds according to the tenets and values of their association.
While the Nigerian bar association could have better handled this issue without rescinding the invitation given to the governor of Kaduna, it went ahead to withdraw its invitation, a move which was considered by many as an ethnic or tribal motivated move. For a group which is held in high esteem as that of the Nigerian bar Association which depends on fairness and objective evaluation to have hurriedly jumped into making the terrible mistake which they made in rescinding the invitation, the consequences has seen to the emergence of a new association as many members of the association who obviously were disappointed with the conduct of the association regarding the issue left for the formation of a new association which they claimed does not have any other ulterior motive.
An objective inquiry should have been made by the members of the legal trade to find an objective as well as diplomatic way of resolving this issue. However, it is quite shocking to have seen them act that way.
While we can choose to debate on the legalities of the new association which is named Northern Nigerian Bar Association [NNBA] it is important to take our gaze on this and consider what could have been done to control the situation and what should be done in the event of similar occurrences.
The Nigerian society is a highly volatile one in the wake of its cultural cum religious diversities. Activities such as this has the potency of doing more harm than good. there are plenty sane ways of resolving issues without resorting to unamendable differences. Instead of giving momentum to the aggrieved side, it should have set up an avenue for the aggrieved side to be placated through a peaceful dialogue process.
It is not every alteration between groups in Nigeria that must always led to division, conflicts are healthy traits of the human society and must not be taken as an opportunity to build walls but instead of bridges.
By Marcus Amudipe