Saturday, 30 May, 2020

NBA ELECTIONS: ‘WHAT WE WANT FROM ECNBA’ – ASPIRANTS

As the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) fine-tunes modalities to select its Information Technology Specialist for the 2020 NBA Elections, some aspirants have been speaking on their expectations from the election management body.

While some told CITY LAWYER that they are confident the ECNBA would deliver free and transparent elections, others warned that it may sound the death knell for NBA if the electoral process is not fair and credible.

ALEX MUOKA
I think that it will be difficult to sincerely move forward if we do not admit the mistakes of the past. The official NBA is still in denial that anything untoward happened during the last elections. If we consider the complaints from the last process we will know what to do and or not do this time around.

Last week there was an online discourse by The Torchbearers during which an IT expert discuss e-voting. The synopsis of that engagement will be most instructive. It would be very unfortunate if there is already a predetermined bidder. It means that there is a script being acted out.

The NBA secretariat ought to have credible database of lawyers from the roll and the verification process; also from conference registrations and previous elections (for older lawyers). This data ought by now to have been integrated such that once the evidence of payment of 2020 BPF and Branch dues is inputed the secretariat would produce a clean voters list. Once this data is handed over to the committee the work of the secretariat as far as the elections are concerned is over.

The committee should allow stakeholders to interrogate the processes as they go forward and should take seriously any comments or complaints from stakeholders. There must be a post-election audit before the results are announced.

S. O. K. SHILLING
First, I adopt the submission of Learned Silk Funke Adekoya, Mrs. as reported.

Further, there are fears about the integrity of the process, hence interested party should be allowed to assess the process by their respective experts. This should be done before the negotiation is complete lest it becomes medicine after death. The integrity of this process is already staked if some things have not been done now.

BARTH OKOYE-ANICHE
The Committee should make a thorough screening of the candidates in accordance with the Constitution of NBA. The Committee in all its dealings and (at) each stage of their activities should pay strict adherence to the provisions of the Constitution. And should not conduct itself as to suggest that they already have a candidate in mind.
The issues of our NBA elections always emanate from the point of publishing the list of eligible voters, therefore I advise that the committee should do a thorough work on that and ensure that nobody who is qualified to vote is disenfranchised from taking part in the process.

Transparency is a key to every election. To demonstrate transparency, the Committee should always make their dealings open for members of the Association to scrutinize. There should be in place an avenue to communicate with the members on the activities of the Committee stage by stage. With that they can earn the confidence of members especially when the last election was perceived by many quarters as tampered with.

The members are watching very keenly to see the first step this ECNBA Committee will take especially in the area of selection of partners or ICT Company to work with amongst the bidders. This if gotten right will earn the confidence of people in the Committee. The Committee should be circumspect in that area, because it will make or mar the confidence of members. And finally on that, I suggest that the Committee go with an International ICT Company, or an Indigenous Company with no link to any of the aspirants or their seeming supporters. We have to get it right this time.

I will say that you cannot totally do away with the involvement of the staff of NBA in the electoral process of the NBA. This is because, it is this same staff or employees that are in custody of the NBA machineries and are expected to furnish any ICT Company selected with the materials to work with. So you see, it will be near impossible to conduct any election without them there to supply the data and other things to the external company or body coming to conduct the election. But what we should be talking about is how we make sure that the bad eggs in them will not have anything to do with the sensitive materials for the election, or will not have any involvement with the operation of the machineries. There should be a standing order to curtail the NBA staff’s interference with the sensitive parts of the process.

I think if the Committee follow the procedures laid down in the Constitution and the Electoral Regulation, free and fair election is achievable without stress. What breaches elections is when the supposed umpire begins to have interest in the process whether personal interest or pressured interest. If a foreign ICT Company is involved in the process from the start, I believe they still have the morals not to succumb to any pressure. Generally, I have trust on the Committee, and so far they have my full support. Even though their work is not going to be easy I pray that they succeed to give NBA the best election, in order to bring back the lost confidence in our electoral process.

ADEDOTUN ADETUNJI
Transparency is very key in this. A transparent process to invite leading players in the industry and/or advertising same in the print and/or electronic media to enable suitably qualified companies to bid will go a long way to give us a hitch free process.
I don’t like to sound pessimistic; the committee members are our colleagues and they are men of proven integrity. I do not doubt their ability to deliver on the assignment given to them. I am sure they will perform well and be fair to all concerned.

NBA staff in the circumstance are not members of the committee. The running and workings of the committee to me is the responsibility of the committee members and the successful company eventually selected to carry out the job. NBA staff should not be involved in the electoral process beyond mere/simple administrative runnings.

On the way forward, there is urgent need to improve on the accreditation process in terms of provision of enough time adequate for complaints and redress options. Secondly, there must be satisfactory voters education for members. Thirdly, all the candidates must be enlightened on the modality of accreditation, voting and counting ab initio to avoid misunderstanding of the process. The fourth suggestion is that a clear-cut, credible and acceptable election dispute resolution process should be put in place so as to avoid incessant and embarrassing litigation that have characterized NBA elections lately. Finally, an election review forum should hold where stakeholders can come to compare notes, exchange ideas and recommend better methodologies, if any.

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