President Muhammadu Buhari Saturday felicitated with Olumide Akpata on his election as the President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), wishing him every success in the new position of leading Nigerian lawyers to chart a path of professional development and fulfillment.
This was coming as the new NBA president dedicated his victory to young lawyers who have become disillusioned with the association; progressive senior lawyers who refused to accept the status quo; lawyers with disability who have long suffered neglect and indignity by the profession; and non-lawyers and the general populace who have a special interest in the association.
Buhari, in his congratulatory message signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, tasked Akpata to bring into forebear his vast experience to take the association to the next level.
“As a lawyer of over two decades who has held several strategic positions in the legal association,” Buhari trusted that “Mr. Akpata’s vast knowledge and experience in litigation, corporate world and engaging with government at different levels, will greatly benefit the Bar and indeed all Nigerians, who look up to the learned fellows as crucial stakeholders in a modern democracy.”
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Nigerian President assured the new leadership of NBA of the continued cooperation of his administration in addressing the broad range of challenges and opportunities facing the legal profession and the country.
Dedicating his victory to disillusioned lawyers and non-lawyers, the new NBA president said the extraordinary movement that heralded his electoral victory was about the noble association.
According to him, “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.
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“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. The outpouring of support is only indicative of the amount of work that needs to be done. The greatest appreciation that I can show to all of you is to keep to the various promises that I made, and this, I assure you that I would do.”
On the electoral process that brought him to leadership, Akpata said he was “not unaware of the complaints by at least one of the presidential candidates about the administrative issues surrounding the elections.”
He said: “As members of the legal profession, our electoral process ought to be and remain a standard for others to follow. I said this much in my second letter dated 29th July 2020 to the Chairman of the Electoral Committee of the NBA. I strongly believe that there is plenty room for improvement in our electoral process, and I commit to making this possible.”
Akpata 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.
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“The expectations are high and together we have a duty to devise measures to tackle the problems of our noble Association. We need to hit the ground running,” he added.
While appreciating his friends and learned seniors, Dele Adesina SAN, and Babatunde Ajibade SAN, against whom he had the privilege of contesting for the office of President of the NBA, Akpata said one thing that remained unshaken throughout the election process was his utmost respect for these distinguished and respectable gentlemen.
“May I humbly assure them that my respect remains intact. 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.