Olumide Akpata, the President-elect of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), has dedicated his victory to young lawyers and other legal practitioners across the country.
Akpata stated this in his acceptance speech on Friday, a day after he was declared winner of the 2020 NBA presidential election.
The newly elected President said his victory is for all legal practitioners who are disillusioned by the current state of the NBA.
He also noted that his electoral triumph is for lawyers who deem themselves as unequal members of the bar due to the neglect and treatment meted out to them by previous administrations of the NBA.
He said: “Throughout the electioneering process, I saw many Nigerian lawyers who had either lost faith, or never been interested, in the NBA participate with utmost enthusiasm in the hope that things would become better. This further goes to show that the extraordinary movement that heralded this electoral victory was not, and could never have been about me.
“The victory of last night is for our young lawyers who have become disillusioned with the way the NBA has been run over the years and how the profession appears to be disconnected from the challenges that face them and their future. It is for the progressive senior lawyer who refused to accept the status quo and took firm steps to ensure that things are done better.
“It is for the corporate counsel, law officers, law teachers, the police and military lawyers, and lawyers in all components of the profession who for long have been treated as unequal members of an Association that ought to be the umbrella body for all legal practitioners.
“The victory of last night is for the lawyer with disability who has long suffered neglect and indignity by the profession. Above all, our victory is for non-lawyers and the general populace who took an unusual, but a special, interest in the conduct of our elections, thus lending credence to my long-held belief that the Nigerian society has always yearned for a legal profession and indeed a Bar that stands tall as an unwavering bastion of the rule of law, an advocate for the sanctity and independence of the judiciary, and a bulwark against tyranny and oppression.
“It is therefore with immense respect for you, a deep understanding of the value of your mandate, a demonstrable appreciation of the factors that have bedevilled our noble Association and with humility to the will of God, that I wholeheartedly accept this mandate from you.”
Akpata acknowledged his fellow contestants, Dele Adesina (SAN) and Babatunde Ajibade (SAN), who he both described as “my friends and learned seniors”.
He also congratulated all the contestants for the various offices in the association for the hard work that they put in, and for the successful outing that they had.
He, however, stated that all the newly elected officials need to get the ground running, noting that the expectations from their fellow lawyers who elected them are high.
While acknowledging the complaint made by Adesina regarding the electoral process, Akpata urged all legal practitioners in the country to come together and forge a united front in order to tackle the problems of the NBA.
“The election is over but the work ahead of us is immense. We must now unite in order to achieve our common goal of revitalising the Bar and ensuring that our voice is firm and unshaken when we speak. I obviously cannot do this alone and will be counting on their support and counsel as we work towards Securing The Future through a United Bar that Works for All,” he said.