- Category: POLITICS
- Published on Friday, 20 July 2012 23:42
- Written by Ogbufefi Blogs
From the events in Abuja, in the just concluded Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) biennial Delegates Conference that was held in Abuja last Tuesday to elect it's national officers, it could be said the Lawyers association is a wing of the Peoples Democratic Part, PDP; Same features, same characteristics. The NBA, elected the former Attorney-General
and Commissioner for Justice in Rivers State, Okechukwu Wali, as its 26th national president. Wali garnered total votes of 688 to defeat Emeka Ngige, who polled 449 votes and Blessing Ukiri with two votes.
The entire process for the elections were marred by irregularities and gross abuse of the electoral process, all aimed to achieve a desired outcome.
Below serious manipulations and grave anomalies were observed:
1. The National Executive Committee (NEC) list was manipulated to include non-NEC members and even those who are constitutionally disqualified from being NEC members. For example, Mrs. Ranti Bosede Daudu and Mr. Paul “Tunde” Daudu, wife and son respectively of the incumbent NBA President, J. B. Daudu (NBA), were smuggled in as ‘NEC members’ without the mandatory approval by NEC as required by the NBA Constitution. In fact, Mr. Tunde Daudu is less than 10 years at the Bar and is therefore disqualified from becoming a NEC member.
2. The total figures of delegates for some branches perceived to be favourable to the adjudged winner of the presidential election were reduced in the displayed voters’ register to avoid being queried by other aspirants while the actual voters’ register used for the elections was padded with additional names to favour the adjudged winner of the presidential race. An example is Port Harcourt Branch which had only 28 members on the displayed list while additional 15 names were added into the actual voters’ register to bring the Port Harcourt list to a whooping 42.
3. Names of deceased persons from Port Harcourt branch were added to the voters’ register. Examples are Chief Nwobidike Nwanodi, SAN and Chief C. A. B. Akparanta, SAN, both deceased.
4. Some members included as NEC members under the “special interest groups” category are constitutionally disqualified from being NEC members by virtue of the mandatory minimum 10-year post-call requirement for membership. For example, while Mr. Chidi Ezenwafor was called to the Bar on 21st May, 2008 (a mere five years at the Bar), Mr. Monday Adjeh was called to the Bar in November 2005. Their inclusion violates Section 9(a)(v) of the NBA Constitution.
5. Some names were duplicated in the voters’ register, giving room for impersonation of such candidates – moreso when the pictures of some of the duplicated delegates were missing from the list. Instances include names such as Mr. Dele Oye who appeared under Category F/Co-opted NEC Members and Abuja Branch as well as Mr. Anthony Ani who appeared under Category F/Co-opted NEC Members and Category E/Benchers.
6. Some branches whose delegates were perceived to be favourable to my candidacy had their number of delegates slashed without any explanation and without an opportunity to query such arbitrariness.
7. Some delegates who were perceived to be favourably disposed to my candidacy could not find their names on the voters’ register.
8. The voters’ register was padded with strange names, moreso when such names were bereft of accompanying photographs.
9. The displayed voters’ register was not properly numbered, leading to certain tranches of numbers missing from the list. For example, numbers 31 to 39, 85 to 90 and 178 to 180 were missing from the displayed voters’ register, giving rise to posers on what might have happened.
It is apparent from the foregoing that the voters’ register was grossly manipulated to favour the presumed winner of the presidential election.
My fellow Nigerians, does the above sound familiar? Is this not similar to what passes for party presidential primary elections usually organised by the PDP at the Eagle Square? A few persons virtually decide what happens. They make their preferences and then ram it down our throats. They usually agree in advance who the next successive three presidents of NBA will be, position them with various appointments to give them unassailable profile' and later dangle carrots to unsuspecting branch delegates, and pronto he is elected. This ensures that the ruling elite remains in power. The NBA is indeed a lawyers wing of the PDP; Same features, same characteristics.
It is highly unfortunate that the Daudu Administration cannot conduct a successful, free and fair election for mere ‘1471’ delegates. This is worse that Jega's shenanigan that brought Goodluck Jonathan to power, in fact, the last NBA election is more akin to Iwu's wuruwuru that brought Umaru Yar'adua to power!
Given the gross and programmed irregularities that attended the delegates election, the NBA has been placed in a most difficult and uncomfortable position in its mission to promote the rule of law. What moral right has the NBA leadership now or in the future to criticize INEC in the event of electoral malpractices? It is now apparent that NBA’s programmes aimed to effect electoral reforms are a mere charade aimed to hoodwink the unwary.
The outgoing leadership mindlessly manipulate electoral process to achieve a desired outcome, just like the PDP and INEC.
It is very sad the road our NBA is allowed to travel on. If we cannot organize a credible election what moral right do we have to critic or watchdog for Nigerians during general elections.
I must however warn of the grave dangers ahead if urgent steps are not taken by all NBA members from reclaiming our cherished association from these hawks. The NBA must remain a voice for the voiceless masses of our people; it must be wrested from the conniving clique so as to act as a bulwark against tyranny and oppression. I call on the incoming NBA presidency to urgently initiate electoral reforms towards ensuring that our elections reflect the real wishes of the delegates. This is the least it should do, being a beneficiary of a grossly flawed process.