For some weeks now, these two names, Dave Ajetomobi and Beckley Abioye have become very familiar to many members of the Ikeja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association. This, is only natural. The two names belong to contestants in the race for the prime leadership position of the branch.
Until Tuesday the 24th June 2008, the two men were not only the ones jostling to become the top gun in the Tiger bar. There were two others – Niyi Akinmola Esq. and Dele Oloke Esq. As things turned out however, both Akinmola and Oloke, came to political grief, when the re-constituted Electoral Committee of the Tiger bar, led by Mr. Layi Babatunde S.A.N, decided against their participation in the contest.
Oloke’s ‘sin’ was that he paid his branch dues out of time, while the albatross that dragged Akinmola’s flight into the miry depths, was the incompetence of Biyi Oguntuga Esq. the seconder of his nomination to so do. Oguntuga a contestant himself in the 1st Vice Chairmanship slot was disqualified for inadequate attendance of the branch’s meetings.
The exit of Oloke and Akinmola from the race has narrowed the field, but it is doubtful whether it made the contest any Lless keener. From perceptions opened to the Squib, even before the pruning down of the candidates (incidentally conforming to the norm of the branch to have only two contestants for the post of chairman) it appeared that the leading candidate was Dave Ajetomobi. Unlike his rivals who all had bands of passionate supporters, Ajetomobi appeared to have a loose and wide support base, loyal to his cause, not because of him alone, but by their connections to certain key members of his campaign team. From all indications, at least up to press time, the equation does not appear to have changed; meaning that barring any miracle or disaster, Ajetomobi will clinch the chairmanship.
One major drawback for Beckley Abioye’s candidacy is that he is the only chairmanship candidate with a moral burden issue on his laps, this, courtesy of his central role in the crisis generated over the issue of falsification of attendance of meetings records in favour of some candidates. It was the problem that led to the collapse of the first electoral committee and ultimately caused the postponement of the election from June 2 to June 30 2008.
In the renewed heat of the scandal and to survive before the reconstituted Electoral Committee, Abioye was forced to distance himself from his political comrades like Biyi Oguntuga Abiola Oketoki etc who had benefited from the monkeying with the attendance records, by claiming ignorance of how their names constantly got into the attendance registers after he had officially closed them. To the contrary, before the first Electoral Committee led by Taiwo Adeoluwa Esq., Abioye’s position then was to defend his crooked report, where he unfairly upgraded selected candidates and pooh-phoning the counter-proofs, in the form of the published lists of attendance issued by his office (General Secretary) saying “I don’t know where they (opponents) got all these from.”
Quite a number of the branch members felt disgusted about Abioye’s involvement in the mess and some have expressed surprise not only at his continued participation in the race; the-man-ought-to have resigned – if he has any shame they say, but also at his clearance by the Layi Babatunde S.A.N Electoral Committee.
Opined a commentator on the matter
“There is no real reason for the Layi Babatunde Committee to spare Abioye. He is clearly involved in the falsification of the attendance records. I guess they just allowed him so that it can be said that there is a semblance of contest in the chairmanship position.”
Another factor working actively against Abioye’s success is the thinness of the ground of his political sponsorship. He has only one main backer, Niyi Idowu Esq. the out-going chairman whose current popularity is debatable considering the fact that his tenure has wounded down in a vortex of controversy. As the leader of the branch, Idowu fumbled in the handling of the NBA presidential aspiration of Dele Adesina S.A.N a prominent and distinguished member and ex-chairman of the branch and almost got his fingers burnt in the process. To stretch his support base even thinner, Abioye’s group lost a good number of her members contesting for sundry posts in the executive committee to wit, Biyi Oguntuga (V.P) S.O Omodara, (P.R.O) Biola Oketoki (social secretary) and Maimuna Esegine (2nd Vice – chairman and A. Ahmed (welfare) to the disqualification axe of the electoral committee. On the contrast, the Dave Ajetomobi group lost none of her key members, with the implication now that, even if Abioye wins the election, he and possibly his preferred secretary Titi Osagie (if that worthy also wins) will be a tiny minority in the very cabinet he heads, a failure inducing arrangement indeed.
In addition the disqualification of most of the contesting members of his team, has left Abioye’s political machine seriously weakened, as almost all those disqualified in his camp have vanished from the political arena leaving only Abioye and Titi Osagie, with the occasional physical support of Niyi Idowu to soldier on.
On the other hand, the Ajetomobi camp continued to wax stronger by the day. Unlike her opponents, who had been overtaken by the inertia induced by the postponement of the June 2 2008 election, the Ajetomobi group remained vigorous, keeping the electorate aware of the developments in the race by constant, physical and media campaigns.
Field interactions and investigations of the Squib show that, Abioye’s chances would have been considerably helped assuming he could gain the supporters of Dele Oloke and Niyi Akinmola. However, there is little hope of such “acquisition” holding as the supporters in question are not to keen in pitching their tent with Abioye. While some of then even prefer to vote for Dave Ajetomobi as the lesser of the two evils, others are determined not to cast their votes at all as a protest sign against the disqualification of their candidates.
In spite of all the odds stacked against him however, Beckley Abioye may defy logic and win the elections. Upsets are not unknown in politics, which like the game of soccer does not operate along the exact and sure lines of mathematics. On the surface, more people appear to look Ajetomobi’s way but the face oft times is not a sure-fire indicator of a person’s mind set. In fact faces are famous for being deployed as masks of the feelings of the wearers.
There have been complaints in some quarters about candidate Dave Ajetomobi, about his perceived quietness, even shyness and lack of spontaneous warmth with non-acquaintances, raising doubts about his accessibility and assertiveness. Observers are quick however to consider such criticisms as not strong enough to cost Ajetomobi the chair of the Ikeja bar, for being misconceived in the light of the fact, that Ajetomobi is well known in the Ikeja bar as a good master of ceremony. “If the man is such an introvert as his critics say, how come he does well as a master of ceremony” queried an Ajetomobi supporter who went to opine further that:
“Those who say Ajetomobi is not a good mixer are having wrong impressions about his style as a person and a politician. I think it is even a good thing for a person to be quiet and gentle. Gentility does not mean shyness or weakness or cowardice. The man is just humble and respectful.”
The only other post in contention, that of the General Secretary, is again between only two candidates, Isa Mohammed Buhari Esq. and Titi Osagie (Mrs) While Buhari a Muslim and a Northerner, called to the bar in 1990 is in Ajetomobi’s camp, Osagie, a Christian, South Westerner, matrimonially connected to Edo State and called to the bar in 2000 is in Abioye’s camp. Both of them bring different political gains to their principals. Buhari’s post 18 years call at the bar, give him a solid seniority edge over Osagie’s post 8 year call. In addition to the fact that he is a not a Yoruba, (though he can ‘blow’ the Oduduwa tongue more than some Ile- Ife parrots) signals that his sponsors, is indeed progressive, caring for merit above any other considerations including ethnicity.
The same argument of progressiveness however can be made for the presentation of Osagie for the post of secretary, considering her gender, which is female. No woman has ever served as the secretary of the Ikeja bar before now. The most singular draw back however to Osagie’s candidacy, apart from being a member of the Niyi Idowu -Beckley Abioye team is her sheer ‘juniority’ which many voters seem to find difficult to swallow considering the importance of the post of General Secretary she is contesting, more so as the candidate has had only about two years of fair participation (non-executive) in Ikeja bar affairs starting under the Niyi –Idowu regime and is not known to many members.
The election billed to hold on 30th June 2008 at the Onyx Plaza, I Sola Arobiodu road, G.R.A Ikeja starts by 12:00p.m with accreditation of voters. The voting is scheduled to start by 1:00p.m and to end by 3:00p.m. By 5:00p.m, the dust of the electoral contest, observers believe, would have settled and the winners known. For now the question remains: “who becomes the next chair of the Ikeja bar – Dave Ajetomobi or Beckley Abioye?
Well, go and cast your votes. May the candidates who will better serve the interests of the Ikeja bar as chairman and secretary win!