EBF’s Adoption Of Candidates: Where Lies The Waste Of Time? By Sammy Etuk

The Eastern Bar Forum (EBF) meets this Saturday in the Garden City; Port Harcourt, Rivers State to hold its quarterly meeting and the main item on the agenda of the forum which is the umbrella body of all the 9 states of the former eastern region and the COR states is the traditional adoption of its candidates for the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) general elections coming up later this year.

As expected, some supporters of some aspirants to the office of the President of NBA have desperately tried to discredit this time tested tradition of one of the most formidable regional fora of the association. While some have described it as a waste of time, others claim it is slanted and skewed in favour of a particular candidate. More pathetic is the case of a ” founding member “, who has written an open letter to the President of NBA, A.B. Mahmoud SAN alleging that the meeting is targeted at undermining the president.

It is unfortunate that politics and inordinate ambitions of certain individuals have led to a futile attempt to rewrite history, albeit negatively. Over the years, aspirants to NBA elections sought the blessings of the various regional fora of the association. It is on record that many who are crying wolf today were at one time or the other beneficiaries of the adoption policy of EBF which is an integral part of the constitution of the forum.

How did Austin Alegeh SAN and the Abuja based Mazi Afam Osigwe who was barely six months as a registered member of EBF emerge as President and General Secretary of the association in 2014? They were endorsed by EBF, amongst all other aspirants. This is the truth many trying to blackmail the EBF today will not want the world to know.

Did the current President of the association, A.B. Mahmoud SAN and his fellow contender, Chief J.K. Gadzama seek the endorsement of EBF and other fora to actualize their ambitions? The answer is obviously in the affirmative; so why has the issue of endorsement become a waste of time all of a sudden? It is instructive to note that he who forgets the past condemns the future.

A hack writer playing the tribal card alluded to the fact that Chief Emeka Ngige SAN stood against Chief Okey Wali when it was the turn of Akwacross, Rivers and Bayelsa state to present a candidate for President of the association.

According to the writer, Chief Ngige did not submit himself to EBF for endorsement, but conceded that Okey Wali SAN did. At the end of the day, EBF endorsed Chief Wali who emerged as the president. What the writer failed to tell the world is that Ngige failed to submit himself, because EBF stood its ground that it was the turn of the COR states to produce the president then.

Adoption of a candidate by the Eastern Bar Forum has never been a one man affair, as the constitution of the forum has laid out procedure that is all encompassing. The electoral college whose responsibility is to adopt the candidate is made up of all the members of the Governing Council of EBF, which cuts across all the states of the forum, all national officers of EBF extraction, all branch chairpersons, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria ( SAN) of EBF extraction and all past chairpersons and secretaries of EBF.

It amounts to a misrepresentation of facts and history for some mischief makers to attempt to mislead discerning minds by spreading falsehood and cheap lies. It is crystal clear that any aspirant worth his onion shouldn’t be afraid of a contest to screen and present the best the region can produce, after all the system as provided by EBF constitution is transparent enough for all.

The irony of these fables, is that while these naysayers are trying to destroy the very foundation of EBF, the aspirants are lobbying for endorsement of the forum. As at this morning, members of the EBF are in Port Harcourt attending meetings hosted by aspirants who are still lobbying for their supports. Where lies the waste of time here?S


Sammy Etuk is an Uyo based Legal Practitioner


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