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Monday, July 16, 2012

NBA 2012 ELECTIONS …. SQUIB ANALYSIS AND PREDICTIONS


There are fourteen offices, to wit-: in the Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, but only nine are open to contest in the 2012 election. Despite the importance of the office of Financial Secretary none of the over one hundred thousand members of the Association has considered it worth their while. The clearly innocuous posts of Assistant Financial Secretary, Assistant Publicity Secretary and Legal Adviser attracted only one qualified candidate each. Rather surprisingly, there is also just one candidate for 2nd Vice-President position; Stephen T-Abar the out-going 1st Assistant Secretary of the association.

 Thus the following offices are the only ones under contest:

(i) President, (ii) 1st Vice-President, (iii) 3rd Vice-President (iv) General Secretary

   (v) The 1st Assistant Secretary, (vi) The 2nd Assistant Secretary (vii) Treasurer

   (viii) Welfare Secretary and (ix) Publicity Secretary

 PUBLICITY SECRETARY
Mr. Afam Obi of the Onitsha Branch and Mr. Gbolahan Gbadamosi of Lagos Branch are contesting the post. Though Obi is the out-going Assistant Publicity Secretary, the odds of winning the election are not in his favour. His rival Gbolahan Gbadamosi a.k.a G.G a former veteran journalist and also a former Assistant Publicity Secretary is far more popular and has enjoyed more visibility during the campaigns than Obi.

VERDICT: Gbadamosi, excepting an unlikely upset, will win this election.
TREASURER

 There are only two candidates here and both are ladies. Joyce Oduah from the Lagos Branch and Ganiat Tutu Siyonbola of the Ijebu-Ode Branch. If Siyonbola wins this election, it will certainly be an upset for Joyce Oduah appears set to win the elections very easily.

 Apart from having the support of tribal heavy weights in the association, the gregarious and imposing Oduah, has enjoyed more presence in the SMS world than the relatively diminutive and soft spoken Siyonbola.

VERDICT: Oduah should win

WELFARE SECRETARY

Two candidates are slugging it out: - Masud. M. Alabelewe and Kelvin Ezinna. Both men contested for the same post in 2010 but lost out to the incumbent Usman Sule.

This year both men are relying on regional and tribal support to win. Alabelewe may have an edge though because being a Westerner (Yoruba) he practices in the North (Kaduna) and as such has reasonable hopes of getting many votes from the West and other zones. Kelvin Ezinna an Easterner may excel only in the East.

VERDICT: Alabelewe should win.

1ST AND 2ND ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSTS

Due to the fact that virtually all the contestants here have no notable or outstanding names and are contesting in the so called “innocuous posts,” the Squib would not proffer much analysis here. Of the lot only Gabriel Opayinka of Ikeja Branch and Benjamin Isetin of Agbor Branch can be said to have done some level of reasonable campaigns and both are contesting the same position- 2nd Assistant Secretary. Opayinka may have the edge. He had a decent showing the first time he contested the position in 2010 and may leverage on the support of the Young Lawyers Forum of which he was a pioneer national Chairman to garner valuable votes. Isetin however stands a good chance of winning too for he is a regular face at NEC meetings and is respected for his reserved nature and proper comportment. Expectedly much of the votes from the Mid-West Forum (Edo and Delta States) will go to him.

VERDICT: Opayinka more likely to win but nothing is certain.
3RD VICE-PRESIDENT

Since both candidates, S.H Garun-Gabas and Francis Ekwere have decided to be sparing in their campaigns for this important office we shall devote no analysis on their contest.

1ST VICE-PRESIDENT

This office attracted the highest number of contestants- four. Three of the four, Foluso Fayokun (Lagos) Awoniyi Alabi (Osogbo) Osas Justy Erhabor (Ilesa) are from the West while the last, Caleb Dajan (Jos) is from the North. All the four men were at one time or the other past Chairmen of their various Branches.

The strong presence of tribal politics in the NBA also known as politics of “regional adoption” or “anointed candidacy” will strongly affect the outcome of the race. As at press time, the two leading candidates appear  to be Justy Erhabor and Caleb Dajan. Justy Erhabor has a lot of things going for him, though he is a rather lazy campaigner. He is the incumbent 2nd Vice-President and has been the “supervising prefect” of the North since 2010. Thus he is not an unknown quantity there. Secondly he, an Edo man but married to a Yoruba and practising in the West, has a good leg in the Mid-West Forum and has again been adopted by the tribal jingoists of the West, “Egbe Amofin” as their preferred candidate. Since the East is having no candidates is up for the grabs, the reality O.J’s incumbency may help him get some votes there too.

Caleb Dajan, if he wins, will really have his region to thank for that as he is virtually unknown outside the North nor has he taken the trouble to do much of SMS campaigns.

Foluso Fayokun of Lagos Branch may put up a good showing in this election if he has help from older colleagues in the profession. Supported fully by his branch, the big Lagos branch and having support from other Lagos State branches like the progressives and activists of Ikeja Bar, Ikorodu and Badagry, Fayokun will share the West with Erhabor but may not perform too well in other zones, except for last minute rallies and miracles.

As for Alabi Awoniyi of Osogbo branch, his fate may not differ much from Fayokun’s. His biggest weakness is losing the Western turf of the “Egbe Amofin” to Erhabor and not being charismatic and energetic enough in his campaigns elsewhere. He is not helped in the fact that he is from a relatively small and even provincial branch.

Prediction: - O.J Erhabor most likely to win but Dajan may clinch it if Fayokun and Awoniyi do sufficient damage to Erhabor’s hold in the West. A Fayokun or Awoniyi upset is likely but it just may happen.

  GENERAL SECRETARY

This promises to be the toughest and tightest race in the 2012 election. The candidates appear to be attractive to the electorate for different reasons. For example the oldest of the contestants Emmanuel Akowe Haruna at 54 comes across as mature, stable, humble and easily accessible. The toughest and the comeliest, Emeka Obegolu (39) reflects an engaging, charming and cosmopolitan brightness and comes across as an info tech gizmo. The last but not the least, Olomuyiwa Olowokure (49) presents a quick thinking, earnest, efficient and organized persona, who can’t wait to get things done.

However the battle may rage more fiercely between Haruna and Olowokure. Olowokure is Kaduna based and a Yoruba and has been adopted by the regional conclavists of the West, “Egbe Amofin” while Emmanuel Haruna an Igala from Kogi State has been adopted by the Northern irredentist group, the Arewa Forum as their General Secretary candidate.

Haruna may come first simply because he has the longest presence in the NEC of the NBA and is known to many important Bar men for almost two decades now. His draw back is a certain link with J.B Daudu S.A.N the unpopular incumbent and out-going President of the association.

Emeka Obegolu can only win if the other candidates cancel themselves out and leave him largely unscathed. Without any regional backing, the candidate who most believe has performed creditably well as the out-going publicity secretary of the association, would really work much harder. As a new comer to NBA national politics, in 2008, he became noticeable for his overt use of the SMS forum. This year his opponents have  matched him text for text ,“message for message” and could be said to have campaigned physically to diverse places more than him. Also this year Obegolu may well be a victim of the obnoxious tribal politics of NBA in that it may be considered not politic at a time the NBA presidency is zoned to the East, that an Easterner should also become the General Secretary.

 VERDICT: Too close to call! Either Haruna or Olowokure most likely to win the race with Haruna having the edge. But don’t be surprised at an Obegolu miracle win.

 PRESIDENT

 The three candidates, Okechukwu Wali, Emeka Ngige and Blessing Ukiri are in two classes. The first class is the “No-hope” category and is exclusively and firmly occupied by Blessing Ukiri. Interestingly, Ukiri is the only candidate of the trio that could be regarded as having any cognate experience for the job.

He was in 2002 -2004 the 3rd Vice-President of the NBA. He was in 2006 – 2008 the 2nd Vice-President of the NBA and presently is the out-going 1st Vice-President.

Ukiri, a Mid-Westerner but practising in Port-Harcourt has been much unlike his usual strong and expressive political self in this race. So sparse, so desultory and clearly half- hearted has been his current campaign that he is way far behind his opponents. In fact until very lately most people did not know he was in the race. Expecting an Ukiri win in this election, save a mighty miracle, is worse than waiting for Godot.

The Hope Class
Emeka Ngige SAN and Okechukwu Wali SAN are in this category. Until about five weeks ago, the presidency of the NBA seemed signed, sealed and delivered to Wali, the amiable and gentle looking Senior Advocate from Port-Hartcourt Branch. This was because he was the only visible campaigner. His pace was not fast and furious but rather slow and steady. So extensive has been his on-ground campaigns that it can be said of him without much exaggeration that he has been  “everywhere”. Adopted in the East, the West and the North by the regional irredentist conclaves, Wali appears unstoppable and so strong is he that even in Ngige’s very backyard (Lagos) Wali is known to have made in-roads.

However winning the presidency may not be so easy for Wali as Emeka Ngige, though coming late in the campaigns has made strong and impressive impact. His campaign pace has been fast and furious and he has successfully cast himself as a viable alternative to the hitherto all conquering Wali.

Ngige’s campaign style is to make direct criticism of the state and the dynamics of the NBA under the incumbent presidency of J.B Daudu which many see as imperial, oppressive and exploitative. In casting himself as ready to redress the many wrongs in the association and to champion agendas that will make the branches richer, see that the marginalization of the silent majority is sharply reduced and as well lessen the heavy financial burden placed on the ordinary members of the association, Ngige has gained much ground quickly and famously and in such a short while.

So effective really has been his campaign, that the Wali camp was forced to shift from its customary staid and pro-establishment perspectives to a more proactive and populist agenda. Knowing that he had lost valuable ground much earlier in the race Ngige is throwing all of his energies into the last leg of campaigns. Already he has won the war of the SMS messages and appears very determined to gain crucial ground in the last three days before the election. A lot of horse trading is expected, but he may just find that Wali’s generals are too many and too diverse to be overwhelmed by his own numerous foot soldiers.

VERDICT: Wali should win but Ngige is not going to suffer any disgrace in the contest. Besides he may cause an upset.

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