Immediate past chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL), Olumide Akpata, has emerged president of the NBA, defeating Dele Adesina and Babatunde Ajibade, both senior advocates of Nigeria (SANs).
Akpata led his closest rival with over 5,000 votes when voting, which started at 11pm on Wednesday, July 29, ended at 11pm on Thursday.
He is the first non-SAN to emerge president of the Bar since 1989, when Alao Aka-Bashorun served as president of the Bar. Aka-Bashorun is regarded as one of the finest presidents the Bar has had yet and Akpata says his goal is to do even better.
According to figures on the electronic platform everyone could view the results in real time, Akpata polled 9,891 votes to defeat Ajibade, who scored 4,328 votes, and Adesina, who got 3,982 votes.
In an online broadcast, Tawo Eja Taw, chairman of the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA), declared Akpata winner of the election into the office of president of the NBA, “having scored the highest number of votes cast and satisfying the provisions of the constitution of the NBA 2015 as amended”.
A total of 29,635 lawyers were cleared/verified to vote. However, a press statement released by the Electoral Committee Thursday evening showed that several lawyers out of this number had yet to receive their personalised voting links due to reasons of inactive phone numbers, invalid phone numbers, invalid email addresses, and voters’ emails blocking direct delivery of emails.
Many lawyers believe Akpata’s victory is a breath of fresh air and proof that Nigerian lawyers are tired of the status quo and the poor condition of the profession thus far.
Austin Alegeh, a former NBA president who introduced the universal suffrage system in the Bar, has congratulated Akpata on his victory in a letter sent in the late hours of Thursday.
Akpata is set to take over from the incumbent president, Paul Usoro (SAN), in August this year.