The leading aspirant for the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidency, Chief Emeka Ngige (SAN), has reiterated his resolve to drive change in the lawyers’ union, saying his entry into the race was motivated by the urge to give back to society.
Ngige, who had a low-key 51st birthday celebration with his campaign staff in Lagos, said he was particularly concerned that internal democracy had taken flight from the NBA.
“There are several challenges facing our association,” he said. “These include lack of internal democracy, poor accounting systems and lack of transparency, indifference to the welfare of members, poor practice environment, and decline in the reckoning of NBA as the voice of the voiceless.”
He said if elected to lead the lawyers’ union, he would set about uniting all estranged members of the association, adding that regular executive committee meetings would be held to carry the officers along in all matters.
“It is critical that we carry our officers and members along in all our decisions,” he said. “We must democratise our institutions and processes, otherwise we would lack the moral courage to criticise government when it errs.”
Ngige is also concerned that the welfare of members has taken a backseat, saying if elected, he would immediately set in motion the machinery to review the current 500 per cent increase in practicing and conference fees.
“We are a professional body, not a Plc. It is important that we do not lose focus. Our mandates are primarily to promote the rule of law and empower our members through quality continuing legal education among others,” he said.
Ngige, whose campaign has gained nationwide support and momentum in the past few weeks, also said that he would bring back the vibrancy of the NBA as a voice of the voiceless. His words: “The NBA is not playing its traditional role as a valued commentator on national issues. We still recall with nostalgia the activism that drove the NBA Presidency of Alao Aka-Bashorun, Wole Olanipekun, Olisa Agbakoba and Rotimi Akeredolu. We must reclaim the status of the NBA as the voice of the voiceless,” he said.