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Monday, May 7, 2012

NBA IKEJA BAR ELECTIONS 2012: WILL THE PROGRESSIVES SWEEP THE STAKES AGAIN?


All other things being equal, the Nigerian Bar Association Ikeja Branch would on May 7 2012 hold General Elections into her Executive Committee, to replace the Adebamigbe Omole cabinet which was elected into office June 4th 2010 for a single two year term.
Of the eleven offices open for contest, only one, that of the Assistant General Secretary did not attract contest. The other ten, to wit have attracted the interest of potential occupiers as follows:-

 Of the eleven offices open for contest, only one, that of the Assistant General Secretary did not attract contest. The other ten, to wit have attracted the interest of potential occupiers as follows:-
 
Chairman-: Niyi Akinmola

                   Yinka Farounbi

                    Monday Ubani



1st Vice Chairman-: Terry Badmus Adeniji

                               Charles Oguntuga

                               Adesina Ogunlana
 
2nd Vice Chairman-: Carolyn Ibeh

                                Leye Omitola


General Secretary-: Emmanuel Otobo

                              Adesina Adegbite



Publicity Secretary-: Benjamin Barnes Arekameh

                                 Memuna Esegine
 

Social Secretary-: Gbenga Ajayi

                            Titilayo Osagie

Auditor-: Pat Nkechi Ume-Okechukwu

      Silver Nelly Ajalaye


Welfare Secretary-: Samson Omodara
 
Financial Secretary-: Olusegun Fatoki

Treasurer-: Carol Ibharuneafe

Interestingly, the last three offices (Welfare Secretary, Financial Secretary and Treasurer) have attracted only a candidate each, with the implication that the candidates therein would be returned by the Electoral Committee unopposed.
 
For the office of Auditor, it is not clear yet whether there would be any contest, since as at press time, the Electoral Committee had not cleared any of the two contestants to run in the elections.
 
Geckos informed the Squib that while Ume-Okechukwu may be stopped on account of the unfavourable finding of the General Secretary on her nomination, specifically on the issue of attendance of monthly meetings, Silver-Ajalaye, her opponent, is not having it smooth with the Electoral Committee because of a petition against her by Ume-Okechukwu. However if the two candidates get cleared for the election, informed watchers of the NBA  Ikeja political scene believe that Silver-Ajalaye may more likely win the race.
 
Though younger at the Bar (2007) than Ume-Okechukwu (1999) Silver Ajalaye appears more visible in the Ikeja Bar and her recent elevation to the Chairmanship of the Young Lawyer’s Forum of the Tiger has greatly increased that visibility and acceptability, especially among the younger members of the Bar.
 
In addition, the structural support behind Silver Ajalaye’s political bid for the post of Auditor, analysts say, appears stronger and more entrenched than Ume-Okechukwu’s pillar.
 
The only known backer of Ume-Okechukwu is her former boss, Niyi Akinmola who is a Chairmanship candidate in the May 7th 2012 elections. On the other hand, Silver-Ajalaye’s backer is the Progressive Caucus in the Tiger Bar, easily the most experienced and vastly connected of its type in the Tiger Bar.
 
SOCIAL SECRETARY
 
Observers contend that the contest between Gbenga Ajayi and Titilayo Osagie would be tough, and the winner may not be known until the final whistle is blown. Osagie, a two time loser in previous contests for the office of General Secretary in 2008 and 2010 has, wisely in some observers’ view decided to test her luck in the less vital office of Social Secretary and may just strike gold this time around. With a fairly strong presence in female lawyers fora and the possibility of attracting sympathy votes Osagie can reasonably hope for success at the polls.
 
However Gbenga Ajayi, her opponent a grass roots Bar man and an easy mixer, backed by the formidable Progressive Caucus also stands a good chance of continuing the tradition of progressive candidates beating Osagie, particularly so as Osagie is now standing on a borrowed political forum, different from her traditional support in the form of the NIYI IDOWU group, a break away faction of the Progressive Caucus and which has since the 2010 election dwindled in force, influence and participation.
 
PUBLICITY SECRETARY
 
Geckos report to the Squib that until April 2nd 2012, Memuna Esgine had believed she would be returned unopposed in the office of Publicity Secretary she aspired to occupy. To her shock however she discovered from the General Secretary’s Report that she would have to sweat it out with a rival, Benjamin Barnes Arekameh.
 
Called to the Bar in 1992, and fairly well known in the Ikeja Bar, an elegant Esegine should ordinarily find it easy to over-run Arekameh the much younger male colleague since the factors of seniority, visibility and gender appear to be in her favour. However as it is well known, politics is not 2+2 = 4.
 
Political alignment and strategy count for much in political contest and these factors may swing the votes in favour of the young, warm and sharp Benjamin Barnes Arekameh, who determinedly cast his lot with the Progressive Caucus and does a lot of underground campaign himself; while refusing to be intimidated or persuaded out of the race by the supporters of his rival. Who are making unnecessary fuss over the fact that both Arekameh and Esegine are from the same local government in Edo State
 
GENERAL SECRETARY
 
If Emmanuel Otobo wins the election into the office of General Secretary of the Tiger Bar, against Adesina Adegbite, he would have caused a major upset in the Elections. Squib findings, as at press time indicate that, Otobo’s opponent Adegbite, former Assistant General Secretary (2008 -2010) and incumbent Financial Secretary and one of the candidates fielded by the Progressive Caucus is too far ahead in the lead.
 
Adegbite an easy mixer, vigorous and well known in the Private and official Bars is much more visible than Otobo, a relatively quieter personality, who came last two years ago in the contest to occupy the same post of General Secretary.
 
The real hope of any tangible impact at the polls for Otobo is for him to get block votes of those supporting the leader of his political group, Monday Ubani who is running for Chairman; even then the formidability of his opponent is such that, the “block votes” would be split, while Otobo will find it an uphill task to make inroads into the camp of those rooting for Adegbite.
 
2ND VICE CHAIRMAN
 
The contestants here in are no strangers to each other. In 2010, both had jostled for the post of Treasurer.  Success went Carolyn Ibeh’s way. Will history repeat itself?
 
Signals suggest that the contest here will be close but with Ibeh having a better chance of winning, considering the fact that in 2010, Leye Omitola was a sitting member of the Executive Committee and got defeated by Ibeh.
 
Well known in female lawyers’ circles, the lively and amiable Ibeh speaks Yoruba so well that only a few, hearing her talk, can realize that ethnically she is Igbo. This reality is crucial in an election year in which ethnicity has been brought into play.
 
Again while Ibeh has remained faithful to her traditional camp the Progressive Caucus, Omitola has shifted from the Niyi Akinmola group, his base in the 2010 election, to the Monday Ubani group.
 
 The shift certainly does not endear Omitola to the Akinmola group and may thus hurt his appeal to the electorate.
 
1ST VICE CHAIRMAN
 
Though there are three contestants in this category, to wit Terry Badmus Adeniji, Adesina Ogunlana and Charles Biyi Oguntuga, only the first two appear to be taken seriously by the electorate.
 
Incidentally both Terry Adeniji and Oguntuga had in 2010 contested the position with Yinka Farounbi the incumbent 1st Vice-Chairman. While Badmus lost gallantly with only 25 votes, Oguntuga lost woefully, scoring less than 20% of the total votes cast. From all indications, Oguntuga would repeat the lesson of 2010 being the least visible of the three contestants and lacking the support of any strong political platform.
 
Decidedly then, the contest is between Terry Badmos Adeniji and Adesina Ogunlana. However if pre-elections views and sentiments of the voting public are anything to go by, the odds favour Ogunlana over Adeniji. In many quarters, Ogunlana, the very highly visible incumbent General-Secretary of the Ikeja Bar and a Progressive Caucus chieftain is believed to have a political appeal that cuts across all the major tendencies in the Ikeja Bar.
 
This reality will work hard against Adeniji’s success at the polls even though he is no push-over and is not an unknown in the Ikeja Bar.
 
CHAIRMAN
 
Just like in the 1st Vice-Chairman position, contest in this category is a three way affair. The candidates are Niyi Akinmola, Yinka Farounbi and Monday Ubani.
 
Pundits are finding it hard to predict who of the trio will win the elections, although it appears that the odds favour Monday Ubani and Yinka Farounbi more than Niyi Akinmola.
 
Ironically Akinmola is a ‘senior’ to both Ubani and Farounbi in the business of contesting for the post of chairman of N.B.A Ikeja.
 
In 2008 when he first showed his interest, the electoral committee eliminated him for insufficient qualification requirements. In 2010 he vied with Dele Oloke and Adebamigbe Omole and came up second in the race, losing the first place to Adebamigbe Omole with a 54 vote margin.
 
Long estranged from his original political family, the Progressive Caucus and now hugely diminished in his own created political clan (the likes of Terry Adeniji, Emmanuel Otobo, Leye Omitola were with him in 2010), Akinmola may be entering the winter of his political life at the Ikeja Bar, as his only viable political asset and weapon to capture the Chairmanship post now, remains his burning desire to become the leader of the Ikeja Bar, an asset that is plainly not enough, as the voters are looking more in the direction both Farounbi and Ubani to crown king.
 
Monday Onyekachi Ubani, is considered a strong contender for the post of Chairman. Indications show that he started his campaign (whispering and personal contact level) as long ago as 2010, with the campaigns getting much louder and bolder early 2012 when he extended it to electronic media, where he severally announced his intention to run for the office of the Chairman of the N.B.A Ikeja and soliciting for the support of the members of the public in this regard.
 
A check on the political camp of Monday Ubani, shows that majority of his open supporters are of the Igbo ethnicity  to which he belongs and this indicates that he is likely to receive ethnically based block votes in the elections.
 
Ubani, a voluble, warm but overtly assertive personality has caught the imagination of not a few of the younger members of the Bar who see him as a dynamic personality that can turn things around if elected chairman. The only snag in this proposition is that the Ikeja Bar is not a basket case or a poorly run branch that would warrant the emergence of a Hercules to the rescue.
 
With the older and more mature voters, the Ubani candidacy does not engender much excitement. His yawning inexperience in Bar leadership (he has never held any executive committee post) perennial television and radio canvassing and his donning of a wig and gown over a T-shirt during the January 9-16  2012 wide spread demonstration during the Anti Fuel Price Hike Protest has not impressed him with majority of the “oldies” as a candidate worthy to lead the Tiger Bar.
 
In spite of all these perceived drawbacks, Ubani may yet win the elections, should ethnic consideration of candidates (spell: tribe is thicker than merit) play a strong hand in the contest. While both Akinmola and Farounbi are Yorubas and set mates of both the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife (1992) and the Nigerian Law School (1993) Ubani is Igbo and graduated in 1990. Thus while Ubani can hope for a block vote from his Igbo brothers and sisters and still pick some valuable Yoruba votes, Farounbi and Akinmola will share the Yoruba votes, thus in danger of cancelling themselves out for an Ubani emergence.
 
Yinka Farounbi, the third but certainly not the least of the contenders also stands a very good chance of becoming the next chairman of the Ikeja Bar. Arguably, the calmest and most polite of the three contenders, Farounbi’s approach to winning the race is distinct and strategically more inclusive than his rivals.
 
While the duo of Akinmola and Ubani are relying heavily on their personal abilities and resources to win the election, Farounbi has anchored his ambition on the crest of his political family the Progressive Caucus, shrewdly led by Oludare Akande, a.k.a Leader, the former 1st Vice-Chairman of the Branch.
 
The PC with its vast political networks and inter-webbed influence and connections in and outside the Ikeja Bar and which has been in effective control of the power corridor of the Ikeja bar since at least 2002, can only be underrated and ignored by the most reckless of opponents.
 
The main strength of the PC is that all the leaders of the Ikeja Bar it has churned out in the past eight years to wit Adekunle Ojo, Niyi Idowu, Dave Ajetomobi and lately Adebamigbe Omole, have proved to be highly successful Chairmen who have catapulted the Ikeja Bar to greater heights than they met it.
 
Farounbi, the preferred candidate of the PC, the incumbent 1st Vice-Chairman of the Branch has the richest cognate experience to lead the Bar amongst the contenders. In the past he has been Auditor, Financial Secretary, and Assistant General Secretary. He is also the current Chairman of the Human Rights Committee and has been Chairman of Conference Planning Committee, Secretary Building Committee and member of the Gani Fawehinmi Committee.
 
Also of the three candidates, his chances of winning is the most improved. A few months ago, the leading candidates appeared to be Ubani and Akinmola, but when the political machinery of the P.C came to full throttle, it was a matter of time before the erstwhile race leaders began to weary and falter. Recently an embattled Ubani agonised openly “Ha it is not easy to fight an incumbent.”
 
So strong has Farounbi become in the race, that Ubani may find on D-Day that his expectation of an Igbo block vote in support of his ambition has been dashed miserably by the wide incursion of Farounbi into his territory. The fact is that notable members of the Bar, who are not Yorubas but South-Easterners are rooting for a Farounbi Chairmanship believing that he is the most stable, credible and experienced of the contenders.
 
Thus while Akinmola can hope to get his votes mainly from the Yoruba stock and some scant Igbo votes and Ubani can hope to get his votes mainly from the Igbo stock and a few Yoruba votes, Farounbi who has always been part of the architects of the success story of the Ikeja Bar since at least year 2000 can reasonably hope for votes from every corner and part of the Bar.




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