Jun 26, 2018

ECNBA - Crisis Of Confidence And Credibility

INHERENT FLAWS AND DEFECTS IN 
THE ECNBA ELIGIBLE VOTERS’ LIST - THE LOOMING CRISIS OF CONFIDENCE AND CREDIBILITY QUESTION.

It is yet another Election year in the annals of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and all eyes are on Professor Auwalu Yadudu’s led Electoral Committee of NBA (ECNBA) to deliver on its promises to conduct a free, fair and credible Election for the foremost professional Association in Africa. However if feelers coming from the members of the NBA are anything to go by, the hope of those expecting a credible poll in this Year’s election is bound to be dashed unless urgent steps are taken to arrest the looming crisis of confidence and credibility question that is threatening to mar the July Poll. There is no gainsaying the fact that the process leading up to an event determines its result



A shoddy preparation cannot give birth to credible result or outcome. It is a case of garbage in, garbage out and one cannot put something on nothing and expect it to standThis perfectly describes theECNBA and its current preparation for the upcoming general election - election that will produce the leaders of the biggest body of legal professionals in Africa.  

The ECNBA was set up sometime in March this year by the incumbent NBA President, A.B. Mahmoud SAN with the mandate to amongst other things, manage, control and conduct elections of national officesThe ECNBA’s terms of reference also include the screening of aspirants and publication of the list of eligible votersIn line with its duties, the ECNBA had by a notice requested Branches across the Federation to submit the names of eligible voters from their respective branches. To be an eligible voter, a lawyer must have paid his annual Bar Practising Fees (BRF) on or before the 31st day of March, 2018 and also paid his branch dues at branch level. In compliance with the ECNBA demands, all the Branches forwarded their respective eligible voters’ list to the ECNBA

On Friday, 22 June 2018, the ECNBA released a notice urging members of the Bar to confirm that their names are on the list of eligible voters for the election. Thus, the ECNBA’s first assignment of compilation and publication of eligible voters list which usually precedes every election has turned out to be a major acid test of the Electoral Umpire’s preparedness for the herculean task. The reactions that have continued to trail the eligible voters list released by ECNBA have left a lot to be desired of the Committee’s commitment to a credible election.  ECNBA has failed its first major assignment and by implication indicative of its unpreparedness for the forthcoming elections. Some of the non-exhaustive credibility questions that have bedevilled the Voters List include the following:

Non-availability of names and details of Eligible Voters on the Voters List

As noted above, the ECNBA had requested that NBA Branches forward their list of eligible voters. This was of course a proper request in that Branches are better positioned to know those who have complied with the requirement forpayment of the BRF at the appropriate time together with their Branch Dues. These Branches complied with the ECNBA’s request and forwarded the Lists. Even the voters who had issues quickly contacted their branches and had to go through a very tough and hectic process before those issues were resolved. Hence, all that the ECNBA would have done was tosimply and carefully collate those names as sent to it by the Branches and come up with a comprehensive List that contains all the names and details of the eligible voters, based on the submission by the Branches and for ease of retrieval, arranged in alphabetical order.  Alas! The reverse is however the case. That simple exercise has turned into a nightmare as most names are found missing on the NBA published Eligible Voters List. Those who were lucky to have their names on the List, have one or two issues ranging from missing email or phone numbers or in some cases misspelt names. The question is, which Lists did the ECNBA use in compiling its own eligible voters’ list? If the ECNBA used the lists submitted by Branches, why is there so much disparity across the Branches? The most likely answer is that the ECNBA did not use the list provided by Branches and one cannot but wonder the reason for such a tortuous exercise? Why did ECNBA request Branches to provide the lists it never intended to make use of? Could it be that ECNBA employed incompetent hands to manage the process of harmonizing the lists? How many more of such incompetence are we still going to witness before and during the election? If the preparatory process is lacking in credibility of this magnitude, can we expect anything better during the elections proper? With the 3 days’ deadline currently given, what fate will befall members who have travelled out of the Country or without access to their email within that period. Why would the ECNBA re-type or re-prepare the Lists sent to them by the Branches? How can one vouch for the accuracy and authenticity of the List now being re-prepared by the ECNBA? So many questions without answers!   

Timeframe for Resolution of Issues and Complaints.    

To worsen the whole process, ECNBA by its notice released just on the same Friday, 22 June 2018 requested that members with complaints have up till Tuesday, 26 June 2018 to rectify whatever needs to be rectified. With due respect to ECNBA, that is a joke taken too far in view of the many problems plaguing its eligible voters’ list. If it took ECNBA over a month to harmonize the lists submitted by Branches (assuming it used the lists at all) and the list released is fraught with such inconsistencies, errors and defects, how can it in just 3 days rectify the massive complaints it is bound toand has received thus far from across the FederationFrom the reports so far, there is no Branch of the NBA that does not have one complaint or the other coming from their members. In the circumstance, if the ECNBA wants to be taken seriously, it is only logical that it extends the timeframe for resolving the terrible mess it has created. After all, it is the ECNBA that created problems in the first place

Multiple Lists flying around

Even the so-called Eligible Voters List being circulated by the ECNBA has left members more confused as there are multiple lists reminiscent of Delegate Lists of a typical Nigerian Political Parties Primary Elections. To make matters worse, these multiple lists with different contents all purportedly emanate from the same ECNBA and there has not been any disclaimer in respect of any of them. One can only imagine what will happen in the actual election process. 

Conclusion

Clearly, the Eligible Voters List by the ECNBA is anything but credible, efficient and error-free. Hence, the ECNBA is hereby called upon to put its acts together and address the afore-noted issues threatening its credibility of the main electionMore bewildering is the fact that it has just been reported that the ECNBA expects individual lawyers who have one or two issues or the other to resolve to personally send mails directly to it. This was not part of the original instruction and it is coming barely 24 hours to the deadline! What exactly is working on the ECNBA’s mind, we really do not know. Some lawyers are not even aware that their details are not captured in the ECNBA list! Again, does ECNBA have the capacity to handle multiple mails from individual lawyers as to ensure that a faultless list is compiled by Tuesday? To avoid stories that touch, we demand that competent and trusted hands be employed to handle the Voters List compilations as the job has been made easier by the Branches’ submitted Voters’ Lists. More importantly, time should be extended for at least 2 (two) weeks for the resolution of issues and complaints arising from the Voters List as there cannot be election in the proper sense of it if eligible voters are disenfranchised. 

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