Anyone who knows the recent political history of the NBA would appreciate the struggles that culminated in Paul Usoro‘s (SAN) NBA Presidency in 2018. In the buildup to that election, Mazi Afam Osigwe, SAN, young as he was at the Bar, and not being a Senior Advocate of Nigeria at the time, deared to aspire to become the 29th president of the NBA. As fate would have it (or men would), Afam was disqualified from the race thus not making the final list of candidates.

The year 2017 marked my very first direct and personal encounter with Mazi Afam Osigwe, SAN. Although Mazi Osigwe, SAN had struck a very cordial relationship with most of the Bar Branches in Anambra State; yet, very many of the Bar Leaders in Anambra State at the time were not much impressed with Mazi’s quest for the NBA Presidency as at 2017/2018. We did not support him then. We campaigned against him as well. At the end of it all he was disqualified and we all came back home.

Despite the obvious aversion for his ambition at the time, I learnt certain invaluable lessons from Mazi Osigwe’s (SAN) disposition and mien before, during and after his disqualification from the 2018 NBA presidential race. I would illustrate these lessons with my 3 distinct encounters with Mazi Afam Osigwe, SAN.

Lesson No. 1: ​In the year 2017, at the heat of the merciless campaign we mounted against his candidacy, Mazi Osigwe found time to attend my wedding ceremony here in Anambra State even with the full knowledge of the fact that I was opposed to his ambition and candidacy. I was not only taken aback by his personal attendance at my wedding, I was also impressed with his guts and his large heartedness. Although after the wedding ceremony, I still went on professing support for another candidate other than Mazi. From this episode, Mazi Afam Osigwe, SAN taught me that our personal and professional relationship as lawyers must at all time take very high precedence over our political differences. Bar politics must be divorced from bitterness.

Lesson No. 2: Upon his disqualification from the 2018 NBA Presidential race, Mazi Afam Osigwe accepted his fate with equanimity as though nothing untoward had happened to him. When we expected him to “go to court” to challenge his disqualification, Mazi Osigwe disappointed us. Mazi Afam Osigwe not only went back home; he apparently went back to squarely face his law practice and he took silk (on 14th December, 2020) barely 2 years after his disqualification from the NBA Presidential race in 2018. From this episode, when Mazi Afam Osigwe accepted his disqualification, he taught me loyalty to the Bar. Causes within the Bar must be resolved at the Bar and not necessarily in the Courtrooms. Mazi Afam Osuigwe’s (SAN) from this episode also taught me the need to be focused in one’s law practice. Despite getting involved with bar politics, Mazi Osigwe, SAN never for once lost sight of his basic calling as a legal practitioner. He was dedicated to his Law practice as buttressed by the fact that he took the revered silk before the biological age of 50.

Lesson No. 3: Shortly after the rank of Senior Advocate was conferred on Mazi Afam Osigwe, SAN; sometime in the year 2021, I met Mazi aboard an Air Peace flight from Anambra to Abuja. We exchanged pleasantries and enjoyed our flight. Upon arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, while I was still contemplating on how I would part with about N10,000 for taxi fare into Abuja town; Mazi Osigwe, SAN not only generously offered me a ride in his chauffeur driven SUV, he also patiently waited for me to clear out my baggage from the airport carousel. I rode with him in his SUV as his driver took me to my specific destination. For the umpteenth time, I was amazed at his large heartedness, patience and humility as I imagined how many distinguished colleagues who had adorned silk would find it unconscionable to give a lift to an “ordinary lawyer”. From this episode Mazi Afam Osigwe taught me patience and humility.

My friendship with Mazi Afam Osigwe, SAN blossomed till this date despite our past differences. I reckon him as a fine gentleman who has been consistent in his affable character. He is such that any smart, young and ambitious lawyer could look up to.

* KAINE ANANWUNE (ACArb) was Chairman of NBA Anaocha Branch (2020-2022), Chairman of the Committee of Chairmen of 8 Branches of NBA in Anambra State (Oct.–Dec., 2021), and Secretary, NBA Anaocha Branch (2018-2020).

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