Lawyerwaka.com (LW) was in touch with the General Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Jonathan Gunu Taidi (JGT) and he granted an exclusive interview –
LW – How do you feel to be victorious at the last NBA Polls?
JGT – The victory was for the entire Bar. When I offered to serve, I articulated the programmes arising from the gaps particularly in service delivery. My colleagues obviously felt that these needs needed to be addressed and that I was more likely to do the job. So this mandate is mine as well as theirs and we are happy for the opportunity.
LW – On your campaign route, what was the biggest challenge that you had to deal with and how did you tackle same?
JGT – Frankly speaking, at the time I offered to serve I was relatively unknown to about 70% of Members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). In addition, my record of service to the Bar was not available to majority of our members. However, I reached out to all the 125 Branches of the NBA with a 6-Point Road Map to a Responsive, Progressive and Efficient NBA Secretariat. So the biggest challenge was how to quickly reach these vast delegates with my message.
LW – Do you know or have any relationship with your opponents in the election?
JGT – I knew all the colleagues who stood election with me for the office of General Secretary. Let me not use the word opponent since the word itself does not depict the sobriety of the legal profession. Unlike in secular politics where you have candidates, here we are all colleagues offering to contribute our quota to the development of the Bar Association in particular and the legal profession in Nigeria at large.
LW – We have your pictures with members of several branches of the NBA; did you visit all the states of the federation?
JGT – Interestingly, I have been a Bar Man since being called in 2001. It suffices to state that over the years I have met colleagues from almost all the Branches spread across all the states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory. I was mindful of the 2015 Nigerian Bar Association Constitution (as amended) which forbids printing of election materials and the Electoral Guidelines which discourages one from visiting branches for the purposes of electioneering campaign. However, the Constitution did not prohibit my attending the law week and other programmes when invited by my friends in these branches, and in the course of which we took those photographs that were circulated in the social media.
LW – Did any of the candidates for the position of General Secretary congratulate you upon your declaration as winner?
JGT – The first call I received was from the runner up, while I called the other 2 colleagues shortly before I issued the release.
LW – How much did the election cost you financially?
JGT – You are asking me to estimate the cost of travel to attend Bar programmes!!!
LW – How long have you been involved in Bar politics?
JGT – I was elected Secretary of Minna Branch in 2008, Vice Chairman in 2010 and Chairman in 2012.
LW – You promised to “tidy” the secretariat, have you began?
JGT – Sure. Beginning with the restoration of discipline among the staff at the secretariat and changing their attitude to work. Members are already experiencing swift response in terms of service delivery. We are prepared to deliver on all promises made.
LW – How would you describe your relationship with the NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN?
JGT – He is my elder brother, a silent listener, patient and endowed with wisdom.
LW – The election that bought you into office was criticized by a cross section of our colleagues. What are your views on the election generally?
JGT – Like every facet of human endeavour, challenges were encountered during the election, but I cannot comment on the merit or otherwise of the challenges which is sub judice. However, the update of our membership data base is receiving deliberate, priority attention so that never again will the Bar invite an external entity to conduct verification and so on and so forth before elections. The Bar must present a good example to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
LW – How are you managing the demands of legal practice and that of the office?
JGT – With almost two decades in legal practice I am able to surmount the demands of the office without damaging my practice.
LW – Is it correct to say that the NBA does not have an accurate data base?
JGT – One of the challenges we faced during the last election was that of the national secretariat having to rely on the branches to provide the list of their members when in fact, the Nigerian Bar Association Constitution 2015 (as amended) places the responsibility squarely on the national secretariat. That is one of the goals that must be achieved before long.
LW – What kind of NBA Secretariat do you intend to leave behind?
JGT – A Bar Secretariat tailored to meet the demands of members across the 125 branches in a responsive and efficient manner.
LW – What is your advice to young lawyers with interest in the politics of the NBA?
JGT – Foremost, strive to excel in the practice of law so that the temptation to become a career politician does not overwhelm your practice of law.
LW – If you could change anything in the NBA Secretariat what would that be?
JGT – Given the resources, I will update the website of the NBA comprehensively compliant with the status of the International Bar Association (IBA) website.