The President-elect of the Nigerian Bar Association, (NBA), Olumide Akpata, has described his election as a victory for young lawyers.
Akpata emerged winner of the NBA presidential poll conducted electronically between 11pm on Wednesday and 11pm on Thursday.
With a landslide 9, 891 votes Akpata defeated two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Babatunde Ajibade and Dele Adesina, who polled 4,328 and 3,982 votes respectively.
In his acceptance speech on Friday, titled, “Let secure the future through a united Bar that works for all,” Akpata said, “The victory of last night is for our young lawyers who have become disillusioned with the way the NBA has been run over the years and how the profession appears to be disconnected from the challenges that face them and their future.
“It is for the progressive senior lawyer who refused to accept the status quo and took firm steps to ensure that things are done better.
“It is for the corporate counsel, law officers, law teachers, the police and military lawyers, and lawyers in all components of the profession who for long have been treated as unequal members of an Association that ought to be the umbrella body for all legal practitioners.
“The victory of last night is for the lawyer with disability who has long suffered neglect and indignity by the profession. Above all, our victory is for non-lawyers and the general populace who took an unusual, but a special, interest in the conduct of our elections.
Thus, lending credence to my long-held belief that the Nigerian society has always yearned for a legal profession and indeed a Bar that stands tall as an unwavering bastion of the rule of law, an advocate for the sanctity and independence of the judiciary, and a bulwark against tyranny and oppression.”
Akpata, however, said there was a need for improvement in the NBA electoral process, promising to see to such improvement during his two-year tenure.
The NBA switched from manual to electronic election in 2018 and this year’s was its second experience.
Though a total of 29,636 lawyers were accredited to vote in this year’s e-election, only 18,256 succeeded in casting their ballots.
Few hours to the end of the poll on Thursday, Adesina had called for its cancellation, describing the exercise as a sham.
Akpata, in his acceptance speech, said he noted Adesina’s complaint about “the administrative issues surrounding the elections” and it buttressed the concerns he (Akpata) had raised in his July 29, 2020 letter to the Chairman of the Electoral Committee of the NBA, Chief Tawo Tawo (SAN).
Akpata said he believed that the NBA election ought to be the standard for others to follow.
He said, “I strongly believe that there is plenty room for improvement in our electoral process, and I commit to making this possible.”
He called on Ajibade and Adesina to join him to “achieve our common goal of revitalising the Bar and ensuring that our voice is firm and unshaken when we speak.”