NBA LEADERSHIP BROUHAHA: There is Something Fundamentally Wrong with Our System and Our Values

“The NBA President also made a shocking revelation of how he received N50 million gift in cash on behalf of the Association and gave N40 million to the General Secretary to deposit for the Association after deducting N10 million which he incurred within that time.”

At the inconclusive Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigerian Bar Association held in MKO Abiola Stadium, the NBA 2nd Vice President Chukwuemeka Clement in his report to AGM, accused the NBA President, YC Maikyau SAN, of making his office redundant and inactive by assigning his traditional roles to Personal Assistants appointed by the President. He asked the AGM to rescue him from the oppressive hands of the President.

The NBA 3rd Vice President, Mandy Asagba in her report accused the NBA President of refusing to enable her office and taking alone, decisions which the whole executive is required to take collectively by law.

The NBA 3rd Vice President told the AGM that the Annual General Conference AGC and the AGM was planned, organised and executed by the President alone without the input of other Executive Committee Members. She also prayed the AGM to rescue her from the President.

The National Treasurer of the NBA Caroline Anze-Bishop shocked the AGM when she revealed that the Financial Report which she was asked to adopt at the AGM was not prepared by her. She had no input, as some other persons enabled by the President have taken over her duties.

This means that the AGM is inconclusive, as the financial status of the Association must be revealed, discussed and approved by the AGM which has the overriding power of the Association.

The NBA President, in his response to these accusations of abuse of office, didn’t deny the accusations but only presented a justification for his actions. According to the NBA President, the officers are fighting him because he refused to approve their request for money they incurred while serving the association and other monies they demanded. The NBA President preached that National Officers must use their personal money to serve the NBA and not expect refunds and incentives for doing a selfless service.

The NBA President also made a shocking revelation of how he received N50 million gift in cash on behalf of the Association and gave N40 million to the General Secretary to deposit for the Association after deducting N10 million which he incurred within that time.

This response by the President logically confirms the accusations of the National Officers that he runs the Association alone and without their input.

How can the NBA President receive 50 million Naira cash without the Knowledge of other National Officers? Is receiving 50 Million Naira cash not against Money Laundering laws? Is there no established financial process within the NBA of receiving and disbursing money? Is there no procurement process within the NBA? What is the role of the NBA Treasurer? So many questions will agitate the mind of an unbiased spectator following the NBA President’s response.

But shockingly, many lawyers don’t care. I see discussions among lawyers about fund misappropriation and the NBA President being frugal with NBA funds. How is that? The accusations are about abuse of office and taking over the offices of other National Officers with his many PAs and not about financial misappropriation.

How did these lawyers know that the NBA President is saving our money when the financial status of the Association was neither presented, discussed nor adopted? In any case, the aggrieved National Officers are saying that they are not in a position to know the state of the finance of the Association, having been frozen out of their own offices.

The NBA President practically admitted the accusations but justified them with his moves to save the funds of the Association. Unfortunately, we don’t know the financial state of the Association to determine whether the President’s justification has any substance.

The interesting revelation that came out of the President’s response is that he treats other National Officers with extreme contempt. Even though only three officers openly accused him, the NBA President accused the whole of the Executive Committee beside himself of attempting to squander the Association’s fund.

He even alleged that the NBA 1st Vice President (who didn’t accuse him) chaired an Exco meeting where the National Officers in his absence agreed to share N40 Million of the Association’s money. This accusation indicts all National Officers except him.

I think the logical discussion for NBA members now should be “What are the powers of National Officers and checks to these powers.” If the NBA President checks the excess of other National Officers powers, WHO CHECKS THE EXCESSES OF THE NBA PRESIDENT?

I read teacher Udemezue’s intervention wherein he attempted to deflect the seriousness of these accusations and issues by making it appear like “a traditional/normal occurrence” within the NBA by relating the present disturbing events with Olumide Akpata and Paul Usoro SAN NBA leaderships. I disagree entirely with Teacher’s analogy.

This is the only time since 1992 NBA crisis that an NBA AGM was inconclusive. Any analogy that seeks to deflect the seriousness of the issues confronting the present leadership of NBA by referencing to Akpata or Usoro Leadership is to me illogical and insincere. This is not time play to the gallery.

Any conscious Bar Man would have noted that most of the National Officers have been rendered redundant.

For example, we all know how active and vibrant Akorede Habeeb Lawal was in service of the NBA as Assistant Publicity Secretary under Paul Usoro SAN. He was so popular that he won our late colleague, Ogaga, who was also very popular as SA to Akpata in last year’s election for National Publicity Secretary. We are now witnessing the same Habeeb Lawal in this leadership almost opposite of what he was under Usoro SAN. Ordinary SMS containing daily programmes of events and sessions were not sent to delegates during this just concluded AGC, leaving many delegates confused. There must be a reason.

Another example is the fact that most of the information concerning accommodation and recreation for lawyers during AGC and indeed all NBA national functions is the traditional work of the National Welfare Secretary. Since this current administration, I haven’t seen our current Welfare Secretary sign any of those notices. There must be a reason.

The Current NBA Leadership needs urgent leadership counselling and tutorials. Let Bar leaders rally round our current leadership and save the Bar once again.

The NBA President is not accused of financial impropriety; he is accused of not providing leadership to his team, and his response admitted and tried to justify these accusations.

This should be the logical discussion and anything else is Petty Political Propaganda.

  • Mazi Echika Ejido, a member of NBA, writes from Abuja.

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