The League of Anambra Professionals has pledged to build a virile Anambra State, writes Kasie Abone
“The time to take up the challenge of building a virile state and nation is now,” according to the newly elected President of League of Anambra Professionals (LAP), Mr. Chijioke Okoli, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). Okoli was elected president during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Congress held at Colonades Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos State.
In his acceptance speech on behalf of the newly elected executives who will pilot the affairs of the professional body for the next three years, the legal luminary who stepped into the shoes of Mr. Willie Nzewi, a Chartered Accountant, charged Ndi Anambra in particular and Nigerians as a whole to rise up to the leadership challenges facing Anambra State in particular and Nigeria as a whole. “It will be shameful if we allow charlatans to set agenda for us. Our situation is as a result of calamitous failure of leadership at various levels. We in our own different spaces can make a difference. We have to come together to seize the situation on its neck,” he said, adding “the time to take up the challenge is now.”
Other elected executives were Deputy President, Chief Elizabeth Jibunoh who took over from Chief Nnamdi Nwigwe; General Secretary, Mr. Ben Okafor; Assistant General Secretary, Barr. Joe Nwokedi; Financial Secretary, Mr. Magnus Ekwunife; Publicity Secretary, Barr. Emeka Nwadioke; Assistant Publicity Secretary, Mrs. Kasie Abone, Treasurer, Ms. Stella Ozojiofor and Assistant Treasurer, Dr. Nkiru Ifekwem.
While commending Nzewi for the tremendous successes recorded by his administration, Okoli called on all hands to be on deck if the objectives of the forebears of the association must be realised. “The harvest is plentiful but the harvesters are few. I came to this position with a burden realising that there is so much to be done. We can move further than where we can imagine. If we are so busy to devote time for LAP we will create a vacuum that would have unpleasant consequences. I urge all of us to be united, see ourselves as ambassadors, so that we can take LAP to higher heights. We have the capacity to do that.”
On the successes recorded by successive governors of Anambra State, Okoli noted that such successes were not achieved by chance but by concerted efforts of all stakeholders in the Anambra enterprise adding that “we need to engage to bring to bear that those who wield political power do not do so unconsciously.”
Setting agenda for his administration, he said a comprehensive data base of Ndi Anambra in every sphere of life for future use will be vigorously pursued noting that the leadership role of Anambra State in Igbo placed a unique responsibility to ensure that Igbos rights are not trampled on.
The positions of Legal Adviser, Assistant Financial Secretary and Vice Presidents representing South-east, South-west, South-south, North, Europe, North America and rest of the world were yet to be filled. According to LAP constitution, the positions would be filled at a future date by the Central Working Committee through the instrumentality of the provisions of the constitution.
LAP is non-partisan, Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) with a mandate to rebuild Anambra State into a rich and modern state by harnessing the talents and resources that abound amongst its indigenes.
The qualify to hold executive positions in LAP, contestants were expected to, in addition to updated subscription status, be of unquestionable character and integrity; of sound mind, mental stability and possess demonstrable deep passion and tenacity for the development of Ndi Anambra, Ndi Igbo and the country in general. In addition, the person shall not have been convicted of any criminal offense or an undischarged bankrupt. For the position of the president and his deputy, contestants were expected to have attained undoubted leadership and eminent positions in a particular field of endeavour as well as be in a position to devote adequate time to the affairs of the league.
Earlier while giving account of his stewardship, Nzewi mounted the leadership of the association during its trying moments noted that despite the many challenges facing LAP chiefly among which is fund, his administration recorded remarkable achievements. Chiefly among these were setting up a functional secretariat in Lagos, website, health walk, intervention in the feud between former governor Chief Peter Obi and his successor, Chief Willie Obiano, the hugely successful quiz competition for all secondary schools in the state, presentation to the state assembly strategies to cub menace of herdsmen among many others. He highlighted that during the period, the deputy governor of the state, Dr. Nkem Okeke, visited the secretariat with a retinue of commissioners. He also informed that arrangement is in top gear for LAP to monitor the forthcoming Anambra State gubernatorial election as LAP has applied to INEC for approval.
Despite these achievements Nzewi however lamented paucity of fund which hindered execution of most laudable projects. He therefore appealed to members to in addition to paying up their subscription, donate to the LAP’s good causes.
The founding president of LAP, Dr. Ndi Onuekwusi, in his speech, congratulated the outgone executive particularly Mr. Nzewi for rescuing LAP from the brinks of extinction to a point where “it can run again.” He noted that in the light of current political impasse in the country, LAP is significantly positioned to carve a pathway to deliver solutions to address the numerous challenges.
Meanwhile, an outpour of commendations has trailed the Nzewi-led past executive on the success of the rancor free election described in many quarters as being the most peaceful, seamless and unprecedented transition in the annals of the organisation. Words like awesome, brilliant, commendable were used to describe the outcome of the election.
The new president, Okoli, the youngest SAN from Anambra State, is a graduate of the Faculty of Law, University of Jos. A recipient of two Master’s Degrees from UNILAG and De Montfort University, Leicester, England, was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1988 and is member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK). A specialist in commercial litigation and arbitration, his practice also spans white collar crime matters. He is the Principal Counsel in the law firm of Delphi Legal Advisory which incorporates Okoli Brothers; a partnership with his New York-based eldest brother K.C. Okoli of the Nigerian and New York Bar. He was the pioneer General Counsel for Team Nigeria at its conception with the 8th All Africa Games 2003, and continues to advise sports clubs and other sporting entities.
Indeed, it can safely be said that he pioneered sports lawyering in Nigeria. As a former Chairman of Lagos branch of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA.) saw the branch set new high standards in several respects. He was until recently one of the prosecutors for the NBA in the Disciplinary Committee of the Body of Benchers. Apart from active membership of the NBA National Executive Committee (NEC) for several years, Okoli is also an active member of the NBA Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL).
The Deputy President, Mrs. Jibunoh is the Vice President, Business Development, ATEZ Health Systems (West Africa); Founder/Chairman, Strength of Women Initiative, Lagos; Co-Founder/Director, Didi Museum among other companies. She holds a Master of Arts in Museum and Gallery Management Degree from City University, London; B.A. in English/History as well as a Diploma in Dutch Floral Design from Boerma Institute Alsmer Holland, Nertherlands.
The Secretary General, Mr. Benjamin Anierobi Okafor, is an expert in finance and the oil and gas sector. He is the Chairman of Afroseas Oil and Gas Ltd, an indigenous fast growing petroleum products marketing company actively involved in the petroleum downstream sector of the economy by engaging in the business of importation, procurement, marketing, distribution and brokerage of petroleum products. An MBA Degree holder from UNILAG and a fellow of Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Okafor practiced as Accountant and Management Consultant with the renown accounting firm, Akintola Williams Delliote and Co for 10 years and as a Banker for twelve years.
The Financial Secretary, Mr. Magnus Ekwunife, before he became a Chartered Accountant qualified and practiced as a Computer Scientist. A seasoned management consultant and an avid teacher he founded Megastrat in 2004 with friends in MBA7 Class of Lagos Business School, as a platform to pursue the vision of building a technology and financial advisory group that would stimulate the growth of medium companies to large multinationals in the region. He began finance career with Arthur Andersen and played critical role in the commercial rollout of both eTranzact and ValuCard as the pioneer Chief Operating Officer and Group Head of Settlement respectively. Ekwunife is on the Board of various companies in Nigeria and has led transformation for several companies in Nigeria.