BY Dayo Benson
As controversy rages over the zoning of the 2014 Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Presidential election, a member of Body of Benchers, Chief Ziggy Azike, has expressed dissatisfaction with the position of Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN on the issue, even as the latter said resolving the Midwest question is the most important thing.
In a letter written to the NBA President, Chief Okey Wali SAN, Azike described Agbakoba’s letter as unwarranted and totally uncalled for, saying “his public declaration of support and canvassing is in breach of NBA Electoral regulations and also in breach of the NBA Constitution.”
According to him, “I was riled by Olisa’s letter because he was clearly orchestrating what he was pretending to avoid. The entire bar is totally cognizant of the ground rules of the game, this is a closed contest, only the constituents drawn from Egbe Amofin and the Mid-west Bar Forum which together constitute the Western Bar can contest.
“We are compelled by our position as co-leaders of the Bar to ensure that this train does not derail under our watch, manipulation of the truth does not bode well for NBA politics. As a longstanding member of the National Executive Committee of the NBA since 1987, I will be derelict in my commitment to a unified, sensitive, inclusive and all encompassing NBA if I allow this orchestrated propaganda by Olisa to garner grounds.”
However, the former NBA President (Agbakoba) while clarifying his position said he is aware that the Midwest is part of the West, adding “it is true that discussions on how to incorporate the Midwest into the West reached advanced stage. But I know that the discussions have not concluded.”
Adding: “I agree that the Midwest is entitled to present a candidate for President. But I also feel bound to preserve our zoning arrangements. My credentials will show that I have always supported our zoning arrangements.
“In 2008, when the Presidency was zoned to the west, I supported the candidate of the west. In 2010 when it was zoned to the North, I supported the candidate of the North. In 2012 when it was zoned to the East I supported the candidate of the East. I have given this support without prejudice to my preferred candidates which indeed I had.
“You recall that in 2006, when I ran for President and was endorsed by the Eastern Bar, the Western Bar failed to endorse me.
The Western Bar even failed to dissuade a candidate from their zone from running. Now that it is turn of the Western Bar, It would have been easy not to support. But my commitment to our zoning arrangements has not changed. The real issue for me is how we can resolve the Midwest issue so they are adequately accommodated in the NBA zoning arrangements.”