(Nigeria) The bid by Chief Joe Gadzama, SAN, to lead the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, as its president received a major boost, weekend, with the South West Lawyers Forum, SWF, pledging to support him in the forthcoming NBA elections.Aside from other aspirants vying for different posts, Gadzama was the only presidential aspirant that addressed the forum.
The pledge is coming against the backdrop of the adoption of Gadzama by North East Lawyers Forum as its sole candidate. A Screening Committee set up by the influential Arewa Lawyers Forum, ALF and chaired by Dr. Garba Pwul, SAN, had also recommended Gadzama for adoption by the ALF.
Also at the weekend, two key pillars of Egbe Amofin O’odua, Chief Bandele Aiku, SAN and Asiwaju Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, gave their blessings to Gadzama’s presidential aspirations.
Aiku had prayed for Gadzama and offered his blessings towards his ambition when the aspirant paid the Egbe Leader a visit at his country home in Ibadan, Oyo State.
On his part, Awomolo had in a letter he sent to the SWF, expressed “great pleasure” over current efforts to resuscitate the comatose umbrella union of Yoruba lawyers “after the last Bar election that caused the Egbe a humiliating defeat.”
Throwing his clout behind Gadzama’s bid, the influential Egbe elder added: “Chief J. K. Gadzama, SAN is a good colleague and worthy of our relationship.” Gadzama had earlier addressed an audience at the Ibadan Branch of NBA.
Responding to remarks by Gadzama at the forum’s meeting held at Ile-Ife, weekend, protem Chairman of the forum, Chief A. A. Ayodele said: “We have listened to our visitors, colleagues and their submissions. I want to assure you that the West will give you appropriate support.”
He added that the forum would fashion out a “symbiotic relationship” with Gadzama for its support.
Speaking earlier, Gadzama said that he had served the Bar under various regimes, adding: “I wear the shoe, I know where it pinches. I know the issues, I know the challenges. I want to sustain the work that Alegeh (SAN) has done. But apart from that, I want to give vibrant, courageous, purposeful leadership that will ensure that the NBA remains the conscience of the nation, the eye of the blind, the ear of the deaf, and the mouthpiece of the voiceless.”
In a rousing speech punctuated by intermittent applause, he said: “I want to ensure that we have that kind of leadership whereby NBA can respond to issues and challenges that are being thrown up as a result of activities and upheavals in the polity and the economy especially now. When we became lawyers in 1986 I remember we met Alao Aka-Bashorun.
“He wasn’t a Senior Advocate of Nigeria but he was one of the best performing lawyers. That is the kind of leadership I want to offer.
“I have mentorship scheme. I have over 40 juniors in my office. I attend IBA conferences; I go there with not less than 10 lawyers to empower them. I will ensure that your welfare is taken care of; you will have baseline in terms of salaries; you will belong to committees; you will have mentorship scheme. You need to know who you will elect as your president because it is not about the NBA alone, it is about the nation; if the NBA is sick, judiciary must be sick, the nation must be sick. Don’t elect me without knowing what I have to offer.
"I will professionalize the secretariat. One good aspect of a good leader is that you must be a good loser and a good winner. When I won in Abuja (Branch) I accommodated my opponent; when I lost in Ibadan in 2010 I raised the hand of Chef J. B. Daudu (SAN) and declared him winner, even though I was advised to the contrary. I am a good loser. I am a man of peace, I mean well for this country.
“A lot of stories are being told about us which are all lies. But a lot was said about Buhari but he still became president; a lot was said about Alegeh, but he still became NBA President; a lot is being said about Gadzama but with your votes and by the grace of God, I will be elected to serve you.
"My word is my bond. I am accessible. I am contesting out of my deep personal conviction and personal desire to serve you; nobody conscripted me. I will listen to you; I will lead by the majority for the welfare of the Bar and good representation of the Bar - with integrity, with courage, with vision, and for service.”
Harping on the need for Yoruba lawyers to close ranks and mend the cracks threatening to tear them apart, Awomolo said: “I know that we as brothers and sisters are capable of solving our family misunderstanding. Let us remember to commend our elders, respect them and work for unity of our profession and members of the Egbe.”
Awomolo who spearheaded the resurgence of NBA after its 1992 crisis that rendered it comatose for six years, added that “We must be honest, faithful to the corporate interest of the Egbe and the future to which everyone shall account for his/her role.”
The NBA Electoral Committee recently issued what it termed “Preliminary Notice of Election 2016” slating July 23 and 24, 2016 as election dates. The election is by universal suffrage and electronic voting.