Nat’l NBA Election: 3 Kwara lawyers, Balogun,Ojibara, Alabelewe gun for Gen Sec


By Kayode Adeoti

For the second time in history, the Ilorin branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) will be hosting the National Executive Committee Meeting. The event that will be declared opened by the Executive Governor of Kwara State, Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed, is expected to pave way for the official flag-off campaign of the forthcoming national and local NBA elections.

To this end, no legal practitioner from Kwara state jurisdiction is vying for the President of the association but no fewer than four reputable lawyers in which, three while  members of the state jurisdiction are now in contention over the position of the General Secretary.

This development has, in recent time, generated lots of debate in the state legal arena, as some practitioners hold the view that, Ilorin branch, respected for the legal practise should produce candidate that will battle for the presidency. Some others however condemned the branch for allowing three candidates to vie for one seat.

In a recent chat with the chairman, Ilorin branch of the association, Issa Manzuma, he noted that there is nothing wrong for more than a person from the same jurisdiction to vie for the National General Secretary of the NBA.

According to him, “its individuals’ right to vie for seat of choice, and we cannot condemn them for that but I wish we could have a formidable consensus candidate for the position of the general secretary, the bar is putting his weight of support behind the three of them,” Manzuma said.

Members of the Ilorin jurisdiction who have signified interest to succeed Olagunju Isiaka Esq. as the General Secretary are; the current National Legal Adviser of the association, Chief Rafiu Oyeyemi Balogun, the onetime chairman of the NBA, Ilorin branch, Idris Mobolaji Ojibara and a Kaduna based Ilorin indigene, Mas’ud Mobolaji Alabelewe.

Balogun’s Profile

Balogun, a Kwara born legal practitioner, began actualising his dream for the legal profession when he was admitted into the University of Ilorin in 1993 to study law. He was one of the pioneer students of the faculty. Owing to his activism and positions he held while in the institution, he carved a niche for himself that made him a reference, among his old friends, as a politician in wig and gown.

After he bagged his LL.B certificate, he started his legal practise with erudite Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Yusuf Olaolu Ali as a Youth Corps member and was invariably retained in the chambers after the completion of his programme.

Balogun, who was with his principal for seven years, established his chambers, R.O Balogun in February, 2007 with the head office in Ilorin.

He was the Secretary of the NBA, Ilorin branch between 2009-2011. He was elected chairman of the branch in the election that was keenly contested by notable members of the branch. He served from 2011 to 2013.

Baloo or Double Chief as fondly hailed by both senior and young lawyers in the state, has a comical and lively personality that never cease to attract people.

His strengths

Pilot Law reliably gathered that Balogun may have an edge over his colleagues giving his position as the current Legal Adviser of the association. The position was said to have given him depth knowledge of NBA politics. Also, it was reported that as part of his duties as the legal adviser he works closely with the incumbent general secretary. It was also revealed that since the commencement of the NEC meeting in Ilorin, Balogun has been making concerted efforts to ensure delegates from all branches of NBA in Nigeria have good experience while in the state of harmony. It was learnt that Balogun donated two busses to ease movements during the NEC meeting. These factors, many legal juggernauts at the national level posited, may aid the actualisation of his dream.

His weaknesses

According to findings, the major factor that could work against Balogun’s ambition is succinctly described as ‘interest of some legal bodies’. Some lawyers at the helm of affairs, as far as NBA election is concerned, have special interests in a candidate which they safeguard at all cost and he may not be one of such.

Another thing that could work against his chances is his relationship with the Young Lawyers Forum, which was considered not solid enough. It was learnt that Balogun, though do exchange pleasantries with the young lawyers but failed to establish smooth and cordial relationship with members of the forum. It was further learnt by this medium that the forum constitutes an integral part that could singlehandedly bring him in, if it is well utilised.

But, as friendly and sociable Balogun is said to be by his colleagues, it was said that he has a domineering spirit, some of his friends who worked closely with him confirmed that this attribute could affect him in the race.

Whether Balogun will make it or not, the decision lies largely in the hands of those who will vote and who will not.

Ojibara’s Profile

Also in the race is Ojibara, who equally hails from Ilorin. He had his Bachelor of Laws Degree from Bayero University, Kano in 1998 after which he proceeded to the Law School and was subsequently called to the Nigerian Bar in 2000. He had his LL.M from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife in 2010. He started undergoing series of training in the legal field as a Corp member even before joining the doyen of SAN in Kwara state, Alhaji Aliyu Alarape Salman in 2001. Ojibara was the NBA chairman, Ilorin branch, who succeeded Balogun, his present co-contender, in 2013. He is now the principal of LoftyHeight chamber, in the state capital

His Strengths

According to findings, Ojibara may emerge victorious in the race, considering selfless services he embarked upon since the kick off of the NEC  in the state. The legal icon was said to have made available free medical service for delegates that stormed the state for the meeting.

Also mentioned as factor that could count in his favour is the fact that he used his position as the state chairman of the association to establish contacts with members at the national level. In view of this, it was learnt, the legal luminary has been able to imprint himself in the hearts of many lawyers, majorly at the national level.

Some of his colleagues in the state described him as kind, sociable and brilliant. It was said that he is not only current with local issues but national as well. This was why some legal practitioners reference him as an international man whose tentacles spread beyond Nigeria.

It was disclosed -that he is not leaving any stone unturned in order to secure the mandate of his colleagues and for now, has taken his campaign beyond Ilorin to virtually all the 25 branches of the NBA just to sell his candidature.

His weaknesses

According to findings, his journey to the dream land may experience difficulties  given the grievances members of the bar, especially in the Ilorin jurisdiction still nurse against his tenure when he was chairman of NBA, Ilorin branch. His government was reportedly characterised with crisis and litigations.

Some of his close allies in the profession who confided in Pilot Law disclosed that from beginning to the end, his regime was rocked with controversies that made it impossible for him to actualise some of his aims.  It was learnt that during monthly meetings, the police will be called upon to stand by, in order to maintain orderliness.

Some of his colleagues noted that Ojibara had a genuine intention to govern the NBA well then but, was robbed by the crisis that dogged his tenure.

It was further said that ordinarily, he was to be made NEC representative after the completion of his tenure but was turned down by the national body on the allegation that he didn’t measure up to certain standard.

Alabelewe’s Profile

The third contender in the race is Alabelewe who is also from Ilorin. He attended the school of Basic Studies in the then Kwara State College of Technology, now Kwara state Polytechnic from 1986 – 1988. He bagged his LL.B from the University of Maiduguri and subsequently proceeded to Nigerian Law School and was called to bar in 1993.

Mas’ud served in Kaduna state in the chambers of Gbenga Atoki & Co. He later established his law firm in 1998, Mas’ud Alabelewe & Co. He had served as Auditor for NBA, Kaduna Branch, he was one time National Welfare Secretary of the association between 2012 – 2014.

His Strengths

Seniority is held in high esteem in the legal profession, this is considered as one of the factors that could work in his favour given the fact that he was call to bar earlier than his co-contenders in the race.

What also could count in his favour is that, he is the immediate past Welfare Secretary of the NBA. This position, it was said availed him opportunity to know much about politics of the NBA. For the fact that he practices in Kaduna, it was counted as an opportunity for him to get votes of his colleagues in the North and that of Kwara state being an indigene of the state.

His Weaknesses

The major factor that could work against him is that, he may not get much support from his Kwara colleagues, though this may be a deciding factor.

Some Legal practitioner in the state are of the opinion that three Kwarans in the race may lose out if they fail to meet and agree on a consensus candidate. It was further stressed that if two of them fail to step down and support a perceived most popular and credible candidate for the seat, they may all concede defeat.

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