When They Got To Their Feet

By Olusola Babatunde Adegbite, Esq. July 31, 2020

When They Got To Their Feet

Thursday 20 July, Mr. Olumide Akpata, Esq., a non-silk was announced as the winner of the 2020 Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential election, polling 9,891 votes to defeat his two other silk contenders. With his emergence, Mr. Akpata followed in the footstep of Mr. Alao Aka Bashorun, another non-silk who led the NBA between 1987 and 1989 and was reputed as being one of the best Presidents the association has ever had, particularly one that gave teeth and uncommon moral authority to the bar.

On the way to the bar’s presidency, Mr. Akpata’s candidacy had stoked, commanded and magnetised the attention of most young Nigerian lawyers, who had for long seen themselves outside the bar’s conversation room. These young ones, who dominate the social media space and enjoy the capacity for social mobilisation, gravitated towards Mr. Akpata, as they saw him as one speaking to those issues that concerns them, issues that had for long being mere subjects of hush discussions.

Dominant on the list were matters of poor remuneration, lawyers’ welfare, entrepreneurial capacity, continuing legal education, and the seemingly disappearing voice of the bar on critical national issues. Mr. Akpata himself alluded to this when he said – “The victory of last night is for young lawyers who have become disillusioned with the way the NBA had been run over the years and how the profession appears to be disconnected from the challenges that face them and their future”.

We congratulate Mr. Akpata on his victory and pray that Jehovah God grant him an abundance of his grace to succeed, as he mounts the saddle. The bar ought to be the conscience of the nation, as well as the hub of citizens’ engagement, with the potency to consistently hold government accountable. With the kind of hope that Mr. Akpata cultivated in the mind of a wide section of the bar’s new generation, there are high expectations, as everyone looks forwards to a new era of innovation-driven strides.

To build a nation is not rocket science. It only takes a desire by a people, who are sufficiently miffed by the system and tired of the status quo, to seize the initiative and impose a direction on things. If just a measure of the gust of energy and mobilisation demonstrated by young lawyers in the just concluded bar election, is shown by the larger community of Nigerian youths in general elections, we would significantly have moved the needle.

Young Nigerians must know that absentee leaders are elected by absentee voters, just like corrupt leaders cruise into power on wads of naira notes and stomach infrastructure. It was Nadia Berezovska who said – “We used to go down on our knees before the People in power, but now we have got to our feet”. Those lines came from Nadia, while she was a part of the crowds in Central Kiev, who compelled an Ukrainian President to hold fresh elections. When will Nigerian youths stand on their feet and stop begging for crumbs from the political class? The days leading to 2023 is an open cheque waiting to be cashed. If we fight, we may win; if we don’t…

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