Olumide Akpata was on Friday sworn in as the 30th President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). Akpata, who is the first lawyer to emerge president of the Association before attaining the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), defeated two SANs in an online election that was conducted by the legal body between July 29 and 30, this year.
The swearing-in ceremony, which held at the NBA building in Abuja, was the hallmark of the 60th Annual General Meeting of the Association. Apata was sworn before a large number of lawyers by his predecessor, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN).
Consequently, motion for dissolution of the Usoro-led National Executive Committee (NEC) was moved and approved. Thereafter, Akpata performed his first assignment of swearing in other members of his cabinet.
In his inauguration speech, the NBA president promised to run an all-inclusive Bar. Acknowledging the role of young lawyers, he pledged to work hard towards justifying the confidence reposed in him and his executive.
With the election over and new leadership formed, Apata urged members to unite in the process of vitalising the Bar and “securing the future of the Association through a united Bar, adding: “The election is over, we must retrace our step.”
While pledging respect for senior members, he promised to bridge the gap between senior and younger lawyers, noting: “Ours is a noble profession that prides itself in high sense of discipline.
“The Bar I want to lead is that which is united as one force. But this task cannot be achieved if we divide at a time we should be united.” He also promised numerous reforms, including the body’s electoral process, which he said, ought to be the standard for others to follow, as well as establish an efficient data management system for NBA, as lack of database of voters is a threat to credible election.
Apata promised special a Lawyers Defend Fund, regular capacity building programmes for members, enhanced welfare package, as well as reconstitution of Continued Legal Education, adding that it is not enough to hit the running, “we have to hit the ground flying.”