By A.B Nasir- Ibrahim
The Dynamics of the NBA elections are changing as the D-Day emerges in the horizon. The major effect of Covid-19 to the process is that contestants are no longer embarking on the journey of moving around the country to tacitly campaign. This has not just saved money, it has also reduced the hazards faced by candidates moving around the country to engage lawyers. Some of the contestants who did not have the opportunity to physically meet the candidates are meeting virtually and interacting via social media. All the other candidates, especially the presidential candidates have re-strategised to fit into the new normal.
Lately, many top and modern lawyers have created a buzz by speaking out and mobilising lawyers across the country in favour of Dr Ajibade, SAN. The effect has been very remarkable as lawyers in the past few days have started making a U- turn in support of Dr Ajibade’s candidacy. The advantage in having these category of lawyers support his candidacy is that those are the kind of lawyers that many young lawyers (who will form the majority of the voters) can relate with. Majority of lawyers who are 10 years post call and below are by default modern.
Majority of lawyers have sympathy for the success of a Yoruba candidate at the polls. The reason is not far from the fact that the last time it was zoned to the region, a candidate from Edo state took it. The Top Candidates are Dr Babatunde Ajibade and Deacon Dele Adeshina. However, this does not mean that Olumide Akpata, the only non-Yoruba candidate is on a child’s play mission. No, he isn’t and that is exactly why Dr Ajibade’s candidacy is receiving a boost.
Dele Adeshina was adopted by a handful of regional elders as their candidate; that has been his Achilles’ heel. The adoption has introduced bad blood in the legal community of Yoruba extraction. Many high profile lawyers have disassociated themselves from the adoption which has become a huge burden for Dele Adeshina instead of a blessing. The election will be decided by a category of lawyers who do not understand that practice at the bar, who in fact find it annoying.
This is where Dr Ajibade will lead in the race especially for his refusal to be part of the adoption process. Many lawyers see him as a progressive and modern candidate to support in the election.
Many lawyers believed Dele Adesina would have been a good NBA President if he was elected before 2016. A Dele Adeshina presidency may likely struggle to carry along the new comers at the Bar.
Another factor that is giving Ajibade’s candidacy some strength is an event which happened in Abuja in 2014; where some lawyers who served as delegates in the election were driven out of their hotel rooms in the middle of the night. That incident is coming up in different quarters across the country. The victims of that event and their supporters scattered all over the country, consider this election as payback time. What makes the situation dangerous is that some of them have infiltrated the campaign caucus of the man they intend to stop. Six years down the line, the memories of what happened in those hotel rooms are still fresh in the minds of the victims.
Olumide Apkata’s presence in the election brings some value to the Ajibade candidacy. Mr Apkata is indeed a real threat to the Southwest clinching the position of the presidency in the next election and Dr Ajibade is seen as the only counter force to that threat. Many lawyers, especially those in the Southwest understand that basic dynamic and that has pushed many of them into jumping ship to sail with Ajibade. Frankly, this may not be as a result their love for Ajibade but because that is the only way to win the election and keep it in the Southwest after Austin Alegeh took it the last it came to the region. Many lawyers have said repeatedly that they have sympathy for a Yoruba President. That may sound parochial but unfortunately, that is one of the biggest factors that drive NBA elections. There is no hope it will stop anytime soon.
All these reasons could be small or parochial but they are big enough to change the course of the elections.
As the election approaches, some of these lawyers are beginning to mobilize for Ajibade and the younger ones are also beginning to have a conviction that Dr Ajibade whose modern practice they can relate with should be the next leader of Africa’s largest Bar.
I call on my Southwest brothers to see this as a call for service. Some of our colleagues outside the Southwest are waiting for us to give them a clear signal. Dr Ajibade is the only signal in the circumstance, if we really desire to lead the bar, if not our wait since 2008 will continue until 2026.
A.B Nasir- Ibrahim