It was a beautiful bright and sunny day in June and unlike the last two previous days when Lagos bustling activities were slowed down due to heavy downpour. I stopped at the bank to get some money to fuel the car. As it was usual in my area, there was a long queue in the banking hall and it took me about 30 minutes to get my money. You might wonder why I did not use the ATM or internet banking. Well my “ijeburism” wouldn’t allow me get an ATM or subscribe to internet banking. But on a more serious note, I tend to be an impulse spender. So to curtail this destructive habit, I refused to subscribe to internet banking or obtain the ATM card. Having got some cash, I set out on my journey. Naturally, before I got to the court, there were the normal daily Lagos skirmishes; car honking, screaming at pedestrians and okada riders. And those that scream at you; especially those one that make gestures touching the side of their heads like ‘ya head no correct’ and the Danfo drivers and okada drivers telling you to employ a driver; and the last but not the least those that think that women on the steering are evil witches, they never give way. I had them all and I got to the court in one piece.
That day, Monday 25/06/18 was slated for the manifestos of the elections’ candidates of the Ikeja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). I had woken up early enough to attend the event so that I could see and hear all the aspirants with their manifestos. To write that I was disappointed would not be enough; I was angry. It turned into a complaints’ affair. The Elections’ Committee acted like a Complaints’ Commission that day as members took turns to air their grievances.
The event which was scheduled to commence at 12 noon did not begin until 2:30pm. It was declared opened by the Chairman of the Elections’ Committee who stated that the agenda of the day was the manifestos of contestants. However, it appeared that the rancour amongst members which started during the last elections of the branch was yet to be resolved as members took turn to raise several complaints and threw accusations at one other. Most of the complaints raised centered on the non-availability of the elections’ guidelines and this raised doubts on the efficiency of the Elections’ Committee as regards the eligibility of voters and some aspirants.
Whilst the Chairman of the Elections’ Committee was able to resolve the issue of elections’ guidelines and that of the eligibility of the aspirants, there remained the issue of 76 members whose names were raised in a petition as not eligible to vote in the elections. According to the Chairman, the said petition was received by the Committee at about 7:39pm on the 24th of June, 2018 – a night before the day of the manifesto. While some members jokingly expressed their thoughts whether the doctrine of “acquiescence” shouldn’t be raised against the Petitioner, some members insisted that the election must be postponed in view of the pending petition and more importantly to avoid a repeat of the crisis that besieged the last elections. Some members also argued that the Committee had the final say; relying on the bye-laws of the bar and insisted elections must hold as scheduled the next day.
As at 3:30 pm when I left the venue of the Bar Centre, the Chairman of the Elections’ Committee was still having a meeting with the candidates and it seemed unlikely that the manifesto would hold. I sincerely hope that a recurrence of the crisis that plagued the last elections and lasted throughout the tenure would not be repeated should the election hold as scheduled for the following day.
For me, it has always been important that elections were not just conducted but that the tenure of the elected was peaceful and fruitful.