The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) 2020 national elections inches closer as the epic battle for various seats in the association continues to gain momentum. A series of allegations and counter allegations have been trailing the candidacy of some aspirants. This trend is unsurprising because it has become the part and parcel of every electoral process in Nigeria.
As the contenders roll out their cardinal programmes, the regular unfulfilled promises by the successive administrations have taken the centre stage. Every previous and incumbent national officer of the NBA rode on the gesture of improving poor renumeration and maltreatment of the young cadres at the bar. A little or no effort has been made to enhance the longstanding degenerative welfare of young lawyers. The failure to formulate and implement adequate minimum wage and incentives signifies the NBA leadership deliberate invitation to exploitation in the legal profession.
Moreover, the contenders have highlighted the protection of every legal practitioner against brutality, harassment and intimidation as a core blueprint. This promise has been partially implemented by successive administrations. The NBA leadership often addresses the attacks on bigwigs in the legal profession. Many lawyers out of this circle have suffered from unlawful incarceration and molestation in the hands of “the powers that be” without any responsive measure from the NBA officials.
The government officials rising acts of disobedience to court orders required urgent attention. The continuous affront to the judiciary is a debasement of the legal profession. The Bar unlike the Bench with limitations have the full-scale machinery to rise to the occasion. Unfortunately, the aspirants for NBA offices often scheme out the consolidation of the rule of law during electioneering campaigns. The successive administrations have failed to reflect lawyers as the custodians of law.
Gross indiscipline is currently rocking the legal profession. It seems the menace is being overlooked to avoid stepping on toes. It is high time to call a spade a spade. The “charge and bail” practice where lawyers loiter the court premises and directly solicit for clients has grown disproportionally. This practice doesn’t only breach the rules of professional ethics for legal practitioners but also undermines the noble profession. The NBA leadership should therefore revive the moribund Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) by setting up adequate machinery to checkmate this act and discipline erring members.
As the election tide swings in dimensions, may the contenders with the aspirations to protect the integrity, dignity, interest and future of the NBA and its members overcome the storm and scale to victory.
Binzak Azeez, Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife