Can Maikyau Restore NBA’s Lost Glory?
As the new executives led by Yakubu Maikyau take over the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association, it is expected that they will hit the ground running and restore the lost glory to the revered association, Alex Enumah writes
The Osun State governorship election which was held last weekend overshadowed the election conducted in Abuja by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to elect the officials that would run its affairs for the next two years. In the election held virtually, Yakubu Maikyau, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), emerged as the 31st president of the association.
The Chairman of the Electoral Committee, Professor Ayodele Akintunde (SAN), while announcing the result of the poll, said Maikyau polled a total of 22,342 votes to defeat his closest rival, Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN), who scored 10,842 votes. Taidi Jonathan came a distant third with 1,373 votes.
Akintunde disclosed that the records of 59,388 out of a total of 59,392 eligible voters on the NBA database were okayed to vote. He added that while 1,346 emails that were sent out to some of the eligible voters bounced back, 34,809 lawyers, representing 58.61 per cent of the membership strength of the association, participated in the election that was conducted electronically.
The SAN stated that some of the common complaints the Electoral Committee Secretariat received included the inability of some lawyers to correctly input their Supreme Court Number (SCN) as instructed, wrong/invalid contact information, no voting links, as well as multiple email reminders.
Other national officers elected are Mrs Linda Bala – 1st Vice President, Mr Clement Ugo – 2nd Vice President, and Mrs Amanda Demechi-Asagba – 3rd Vice President.
Also elected are Mr. Adesina Adegbite – General Secretary, Mr. Daniel Kip Ka-Ayli – Assistant General Secretary, Ms Chinyere Obasi – National Welfare Secretary, Mr. Habeeb Lawal – National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Olawole Ajiboye – Assistant Publicity Secretary, and Anze-Bishop Ladidi – Treasurer.
Twenty lawyers were equally elected as members of the NBA General Counsel to represent the western, eastern, and northern zones.
In his acceptance speech, the NBA president-elect Maikyau urged all those who lost to join his team to make the association better. He also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to leverage the technology the NBA deployed in the conduct of its elections to achieve smooth, credible, free and fair general election in 2023.
He added that online technology enabled the participation of a very large number of the NBA, who did not need to travel from one point to another or even gather in a spot, as people cast their votes at their convenience within the time slated for the ballot.
In his victory speech, Maikyau said his administration would be transparent, promote the rule of law, and protect human rights in the country. He promised that the NBA during his tenure would speak truth to power and promote the rule of law and protect human rights.
He sought the cooperation of all contenders in the election for the greater good of lawyers in Nigeria. “I extend my hand of fellowship to those who took part in the process as contestants, let us put our hand on the plough to cultivate the fertile land of the NBA,” he said.
He lauded the outgoing president of the NBA, Olumide Akpata, for his quality leadership of the NBA in the last two years.
On his part, the outgoing President of the NBA, Akpata, commended the members of the NBA electoral committee for their hard work to ensure the success of the election. He advised those that lost in the election to accept the results in good faith in the overall interest of the NBA.
Akpata, whose tenure expires on August 26, said the NBA has mandated its Public Interest Litigation Committee to approach the INEC to verify an allegation that it allowed the substitution of names of candidates that did not participate in the primary election of their political parties.
With his victory, Maikyau is expected to take over the leadership of the legal body from the outgoing Akpata on August 26. The president-elect no doubt is coming to take over the NBA at a time the association is at its lowest ebb. He, however, promised that under his watch, the association would promote the rule of law, and protect human rights in the country.
Maikyau, who is from Kebbi State, was born on February 6, 1965. He obtained a bachelor of law (LLB) degree from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State in 1989, and proceeded to the Nigerian Law School, Lagos.
He was called to the Nigerian bar on December 12, 1990. After completing the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme in 1991, the senior advocate went into private law practice and joined the law firm of Messrs. Danladi Bamaiyi and Company in Sokoto, where he spent about 12 years and rose to become the head of chambers.
In 2003, he founded his law firm – Y. C. Maikyau & Co. – with offices in Abuja, Sokoto and Kebbi states. He attended the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, London, between 2013 and 2014 where he obtained a diploma in International Commercial Arbitration, and was subsequently admitted as a fellow of the Institute (FCIArb) in September 2014. In November 2021, he was admitted as a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (FICMC).
As the new executive takes over the leadership of the NBA next month, it is expected that it would restore the lost glory to the revered association. Many Nigerians still remember with nostalgia the era when the likes of Alao Aka-Bashorun and other activists were the President of the NBA and the vibrancy they brought to the association. In the last seven years, many Nigerians would argue that they have not been feeling the impact and vibrancy the NBA is known for.
Many look forward to seeing an association that would not only speak truth to power and promote the rule of law and protect human rights in the country but an association that would make the government of the day and the people think twice before they act.
In the last seven years, so many unimaginable things and events have happened both in the judiciary and society that have made Nigerians wonder if there is still an NBA. The government of the day has not only trampled on rights but ridiculed court judgments, and the constitution; harassed and intimidated judges to the consternation of the people without any strong resistance from the NBA other than the mere issuance of press statements.
This is why many observers feel that the last time they saw the Aka-Bashorun kind of vibrancy in the NBA was when the likes of Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) and Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) were presidents of the association.
“It’s so sad for Nigeria, all the pressure groups we grew up knowing how they stood up to the government, defending the rights of the people, be they NBA, NLC, NUPENG, PENGASSAN, etc, have all been hijacked by incompetent and inactive people, thereby relegating these bodies to the background. They have all lost their voices because they are all pursuing personal agenda instead of a better society for all,” said a lawyer who spoke to THISDAY on account of anonymity.
Another senior lawyer also revealed to THISDAY thus: “The NBA officials we have in recent times are very disappointing. Most of them are vying for these positions for personal aggrandizements.
“They have turned the NBA into a fashion show. An association that is usually a serious organ that should be a major weapon in the fight for the protection of the common man. Its main reason for existence should be the protection of the sanctity of the judiciary. Even in that area, it has failed Nigerians woefully.
Despite the enthusiasm that greeted Maikyau’s election, many feel he is largely unknown in the legal profession and is wondering if he would give the NBA the strong voice it was known for. The association over the years has been in the vanguard of promoting the rule of law and the entrenchment of good governance in Nigeria. It also acts as the voice of the voiceless and the watchdog that barks when things go against order and bites when necessary.
Observers are also wondering if his presidency would be able to reconcile the growing divisions in the legal profession and the deep quest for the salvaging of ethics among lawyers.