The president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Augustine Alegeh, SAN on Tuesday September 16, 2014 inaugurated a committee to review the NBA Constitution.
The 10-member committee chaired by Garba Tetengi, mni, SAN is saddled with the responsibility of reviewing the NBA constitution in line with current realities, to bring the NBA Constitution up to date. It will review provisions of the constitution on elections – with a view to introducing e-voting at all NBA National Elections; propose such amendments as may be required to make the provisions more definitive and NBA National Elections more rancour free; review the NBA Branches Unified Bye Laws to bring it in conformity with the Amended NBA Constitution; and as well, review the Bye Laws of NBA Sections, Fora and Institutes and harmonise same.
Other members of the committee are, Paul Idornigie, Mena Ajakpovi, Nelson Ogbuanya, Agada John Elachi, Seni Adio, Balikisu Saidu, Tessy Eghe-Abe (Mrs.), Nkoyo O. Amah, and Chidozie Ogunji, as Secretary of the Committee.
Speaking on the essence of the review, the newly elected president explained that there was need for the NBA to review and tackle headlong, growing challenges that are detrimental to the growth of the association.
“The recent amendments to the NBA Constitution were ratified at the Annual General Meeting [AGM] of the NBA on August 28, 2014, and the said amendments were made to address issues that were topical at the time and have essentially served their purpose. However, there is a further need to amend our Constitution to meet present realities and take advantage of modern technological developments,” he said.
The committee will amongst other things review the current delegate election system currently practiced by the Nigerian bar.
Speaking on the issue, Alegeh expressed concerns over the cost of NBA National elections to the Association, noting that it was increasing at an unsustainable rate.
“The risk, dangers and inconveniences encountered by NBA members during these elections is becoming unbearable. The elections are also becoming too expensive for members and ‘voter-tampering’ appears to be encouraged when delegates at national elections are not provided with accommodation and other logistic requirements. The resultant effect is that candidates are compelled to provide accommodation and logistic needs for the delegates in a manner that may compromise the decision-making process of the delegates,” he said.
In the light of the approval of Uniform Bye Laws for NBA Branches, the president advised that the provision of e-voting be contained in the Uniform Bye Laws to afford branches the opportunity to implement e-voting and be conversant with its operations before the National elections.
If the review goes well, the e-voting system would be operational and members made conversant with its working long before the 2016 National Elections.
Expounding on the significance of a constitutional review, Alegeh explained that the constitution was the fundamental document that holds entities together and defines their existence.
“It encapsulates all the rules and regulations, governing an organization and how the organization should be structured and run with a view to seamless co-ordination and achievement of its aims and aspirations.
“Organisations, like societies, are dynamic and keep evolving. The NBA is not different. The concept of organizational development pre-supposes that an organization like the NBA must contemplate change in its fundamental document like the NBA Constitution, especially when the existing Constitution proves inadequate or obsolete to address current realities of our time,” Alegeh emphasized.
The committee which was charged to submit its report on or before 30th of November, 2014, will now submit its report and recommendation on or before Friday, November 14th, 2014; in view of the re-adjustment of the NEC meeting in November.
The president explained that this was to enable national officers plan for the presentation at the first NEC meeting in November, 2014.
“I shall upon completion of the work of this Committee take necessary steps to convoke an Emergency General Meeting [EGM], if considered necessary to debate and ratify the proposed amendments,” the NBA president said in closing.