About two years ago, aspirants of the various National Offices of the bar crisscrossed regions/branches of the bar to sell themselves for the different offices they were vying for.
Resumes, as well as manifestoes, were brought to the fore to convince electorates to cast their votes. But at the end of every administration, the performances of the national officers are to a very large extent determined by the success of the number one bar man; the President of the NBA. Therefore many eyes are always fixed on him or her before, during and after the election.
The last election, two legal giants presented themselves. Namely, The Former Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice of Kano State, Mr. A.B. Mahmoud, SAN, and Chief J.K Gadzama, SAN. After campaigns and the eventual casting of votes, A.B. Mahmoud SAN, the outgoing President, won the race. Albeit, the election up to this day has been a subject of litigation, it is without doubt that Mahmoud didn’t just win the contest after telling some sweet fairytales. There were some ideologies weaved, that when put together, resulted to one singular idea, the #BRAVENEWBAR. But what were the supposed renovations and ideas projected then?
A.B. Mahmoud, stated that his broad mission was to lead the quest of the legal profession to regain the confidence of the Nigerian people. According to him, this meant that he was to work to improve on regulation, raise our standards and quality of legal services.
He affirmed that he would try to deepen the institutional reforms within the NBA and reposition it, adding that, the branches will be his main delivery agents.
“That means I must strengthen them, improve on their management and accountability. In terms of my programmes my main focus will be on regulatory reforms, welfare package for members and rebuilding confidence in the judiciary,” he had said.
Like every other contestants both of the last election, and the just concluded one that produced Paul Usoro, SAN, as the president elect of the bar, the welfare of young lawyers have been one of the centre-points of many manifestoes. For Mahmoud, the young lawyers’ affairs were not treated with mere soft words. Let us see his words once again:
“I take the predicament of young lawyers seriously. They represent the future of the profession and indeed the country. I have put up ideas in my manifesto. Once I win the election, I will put a process in motion to validate my ideas and programmes and build a consensus around them and begin implementation in earnest. The strategy is to implement some quick wins, and deal with medium term measures within the time available to my administration and set the stage for the longer term strategy to be developed. Some of the improvements will be achieved in the context of the proposed regulatory overhaul. I will explore an NBA sanctioned minimum terms of employment in different bands across the country in line with a broad mapping of cost of living. The long term strategy will focus on capacity building, professional development and a more appropriate legal education curriculum that will equip young lawyers to meet the needs of the legal market. The young lawyers will be involved at every level of design and implementation. I want them to own the programmes.
The issue of adoption of candidates by ethnic and regional fora is one which at best can be described as a double edged sword. In the past it worked well to produce consensus candidates, but this year, it appears that even your region, the North was unable to agree on a candidate.”
Also, on the NBA Section on Public Interest and Development Law, he added that he will work to revive both SPIDEL and the Section on Legal Practice. He promised to encourage the Section on Business Law to enhance its reach to lawyers across the whole country, adding that, the NBA Sections will play a key role in the continuing legal education of members, raising standards and delivering generally on my continuing professional development programmes. He argued that SPIDEL, under his leadership will become one of the main tools for public interest intervention by the NBA, whilst stressing that, he would immediately identify knowledgeable and dedicated professionals that would revamp it, as he would commit sufficient resources and also seek other partners to assist his administration.
Not only so, A.B. Mahmoud promised to improve the professional ethics of lawyers, invest in improving the knowledge and skills of members across all fields including computer literacy and also make active, once more, the relationship of the bar and the bench.
His words then:
I am considering an NBA led initiative of periodic Justice Sector Assessment and ranking of all States of the Federation. The objective is to evaluate the quality of service delivery in our justice sector and elicit healthy competition amongst the states, including branches of the NBA and the respective State Judiciaries. Improved service delivery will naturally require close collaboration between the respective State Bars and their Judiciaries.
Collaboration between African Bar Associations will be very important in sharing experiences in a variety of fields: human rights protection, access to justice, internal conflicts and promoting inter-African Business.
Among other things, he also spoke about cleansing the judiciary and fighting corruption in the system. He had tagged his plan for the judiciary as a 7-points agenda. His words then:
“The legal profession, in my view, and in the view of many of my colleagues, is one of the building blocks of Nigerian nation. Therefore, we have a responsibility to assist the NBA in this nation-building project. We have a duty to come out and assist in redeeming the image of the profession.”
“If I become the president of NBA, this is clearly going to be one of the major areas we will be focusing on. The struggle against corruption is partly going to be won on the basis of our ability to build strong governance institutions. It’s not going to be dependent on one man’s efforts.
“That corruption has eaten so deep into the fabric of our nationhood is partly because of the weakness of our institutions. So, the Bar association must work very hard to assist in building strong institutions, such as the judiciary, the Bar association itself.
“We need to deploy our knowledge and skill in assisting the government to revamp the various institutions of justice – the courts, the police, the prison system and others which have roles to pay in the administration of justice.”
These and many more were the promises of A.B. Mahmoud SAN. A few days ago, for the second time, bar men picked their smart-phones and other computerized devices with the required capacity to log into their different e-platforms provided by the contracted IT Service provider to cast their votes. Although, many lawyers have shown their grievances with the outcomes as a whole, fact is that a new era is about to be ushered in. At this point, it is only conventional that bar men get a scorecard from Mahmoud to tell the world from their own narrative, the journey thus far.
So has he really done well? Where his promises actually met? Only a Scorecard can tell.
Did Outgoing A.B. Mahmoud SAN Led Administration Perform Up To Expectations?YesNoVoteResults