By Davidson Iriekpen
After months of consultations and electioneering, the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) on Monday declared Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN) the winner of the NBA presidential election.
He polled 4,509 votes to beat his rivals, Chief Arthur Obi Okafor (SAN), who scored 4,423 votes and Prof. Ernest Ojukwu (SAN), who got 3,313 votes.
Usoro, founder and senior partner of Paul Usoro & Co, comes to office with over 30 years of post call experience and is acknowledged as a highly experienced litigator and Nigeria’s foremost communications law expert.
He has advised a wide range of blue chip Nigerian and foreign companies in the areas of project finance and development, equity raising, infrastructure development and management buy-outs.
He has served as the Chief Legal Consultant for Nigeria’s first ever spectrum auction since 2001.
He has also worked with the National Assembly in producing the Nigeria Communication Act, 2003.
The learned silk comes to office at a time of growing division in the legal profession and deep quest for the salvaging of ethics among lawyers. Usoro told THISDAY last night that he was aware of these and was prepared to deal with the issues frontally, promising to bring his wealth of experience to bear on giving the association a proper sense of direction.
The president-elect, who unveiled a few of his priorities when he takes office, promised to unite the Bar and build bond of friendship and relationship, which lawyers are known to have enjoyed in the past. He said the Bar is divided and that lawyers need to unite to overcome their common challenges.
He added that the confidence of members of the association was at the lowest ebb and as such, the confidence of lawyers needs to be boosted for all members to be proud of.
Usoro promised to institute various reforms in the NBA that would improve efficiency and drastically increase moral equity in the association.
He also promised to run the association transparently, where the accounts and financial statements would be published intermittently to give members the confidence that the finances are judiciously spent. He also pledged to enforce discipline among members.
As the voice of the voiceless, the president-elect of the NBA promised to hold periodic briefings on the state of affair on issues of national importance and the way forward for the country. As a watchdog, he added that the association under his watch would bark when things go against order and bite when necessary.
He pledged to develop programmes and projects relating to Child Justice Administration, especially as it relates to adoption and implementation of Child Rights Act at the state level. He would also advocate the strengthening of the legal and institutional framework for Anti-Corruption Crusade and the entrenchment of international best practices in the detection and investigation of corrupt practices and financial crimes.
Usoro has been a Non-Executive Director of PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc since July 15, 2011 and a non-Executive Director at Access Bank Plc since January 2014. He serves on the boards of Airtel Nigeria Limited, Nigeria Bulk Electricity Traders Plc, Marina Securities Limited and Premium Pensions Limited. He also previously represented Access Bank as non-Executive Director on the Board of Intercontinental Bank in October 2011 following the bank’s acquisition of the Intercontinental Bank Group. He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.
Usoro, who took a Bachelors of Law degree from the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife in 1981, was called to Nigerian Bar in 1982.
Over the years, the NBA has been in the vanguard of promoting the rule of law and the entrenchment of good governance in Nigeria. This commitment stems not only from the public interest role and motto of the association, but also from its constitutive act, the Nigerian Bar Association Constitution, 2015, which stipulates promotion of the rule of law as one of NBA’s core objectives.
Usoro perfectly sees himself as ready to ensure that this objective is carried out to the letter.