NBA Election: Cash Marketing campaign, ECNBA Independence – Dr. Ajibade, SAN writes Reform Committee, Checklist 6 Issues and Options
Managing Accomplice of SPA Ajibade & co. and a former Presidential Candidate within the final NBA election, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade, SAN, FCIArb. has submitted a Memorandum to the Nigerian Bar Affiliation Electoral Reform Committee.
The masterpiece sighted by BarristerNG, enumerated suggestions for a greater and extra credible Elections.
Beneath is the total Memo
Memorandum on Electoral Reforms within the Nigerian Bar Affiliation
Thanks on your invitation to submit a memorandum on electoral reforms within the Nigerian Bar Affiliation (“NBA”). As a contestant within the instantly previous election, I’ve current and related expertise of the shortcomings within the present system and I’m happy to share my suggestions for reform hereunder.
- . Integrity of the Voters Roll/Register
1 .1 Bacokground
The integrity of the voters’ roll/register is the lynchpin of any credible election. Beneath the present NBA Structure, voters are required to have paid their Bar Practising Charges (“BPFs”) and Department Dues as and when due for the 12 months by which the election takes place. This is stipulated in part 2.2(f) of the second schedule to the NBA Structure 2015 (as amended). The due date for fee of those charges is on or earlier than 31 March and that is stipulated in part 9(1) of the Guidelines of Skilled Conduct 2007 (“RPC”) for BPFs and in part 3(3) of the Uniform Bye-Legal guidelines for Branches contained within the third schedule to the NBA Structure. Thus, step one in securing a reputable election is to have an environment friendly technique of ascertaining the names and identities of members who’ve met this requirement as quickly as doable after the reduce• off date of 31 March within the election 12 months.
1.2 Areas of Concern
1.2.1 There have been allegations of manipulation of lists of monetary members of varied branches by their Department Chairmen and different Government Committee members. Other than the allegations of manipulation of lists of monetary members by some branches, report preserving has been a significant drawback with the NBA and its branches. It’s unhappy that the NBA and/or its branches wouldn’t have a clear database of the affiliation’s members and that makes an attempt should be made in every election 12 months to construct a database from scratch. This, undoubtedly, creates important challenges main to many eligible voters being disenfranchised and to allegations that ghost voters are injected into the system to inflate the votes for specific candidates.
1.2.2 In the final elections, for instance, there have been totally different variations of the voters’ lists with important complaints of wrongful omission and inclusion of names in respect of every model, together with the ever present member “Opening Stability”!
1.3.1 I suggest that the NBA leverage on expertise to resolve this recurring subject. At present, the NBA nationwide physique is capable of verify the names and identities of members who’ve paid their BPFs by 31 March in annually with ease. That is as a result of members are directed to pay their BPFs right into a devoted account with a chosen financial institution and to point their names, department and enrollment quantity on the fee slip. Thus, all that the NBA nationwide requires to determine the identities of members who’ve paid is a print out of the assertion of account on the shut of enterprise on 31° March.
1.3.2 The Uniform Bye-Legal guidelines for Branches ought to be amended to compel NBA Branches to additionally open devoted accounts for receiving Department Dues in the identical method that NBA Nationwide receives BPFs. As with nationwide, all funds of Department Dues should replicate the title and SCN quantity of the member paying. As soon as this is achieved, all that may be required to determine who paid as and when due will be a print out of the Department’s financial institution assertion.
1.3.3 I suggest that the Uniform Bye-Legal guidelines for Branches ought to stipulate a brief mounted interval after 31 March in an election 12 months in which the assertion of the Department Dues account for every Department will be forwarded to the Electoral Committee of the NBA (‘ECNBA”), failing receipt of which the members of that Department can be disqualified from voting within the nationwide elections for that 12 months.
1.3.4 Sequel to the above, a competent audit agency ought to be given the mandate to compile the record of eligible voters primarily based on a cross• referencing of the statements of account of the NBA Nationwide’s devoted BPF account and the devoted Department Dues accounts of the NBA Branches. If this train is carried out instantly after the 31 March closing date for fee of BPFs and Department Dues, the NBA will have a conclusive and credible voters’ roll/register effectively upfront of the elections which can be to carry in July.
2. Money Driven Campaigns
As members of essentially the most noble of all professions, we’re anticipated to set an instance for the remainder of society by our conduct. Sadly, NBA elections have attained notoriety as being monetized particularly for the places of work of the President and the Normal Secretary. Aspirants are anticipated to journey to the vast majority of the NBA branches (presently 125), make donations to department legislation weeks, department initiatives and change into emergency philanthropists to curry favour of voters. Certainly, there are allegations of direct money inducements being demanded and given to voters by aspirants to elicit their votes.
2.2 Areas of Concern
2.2.1 I am of the view that choosing the management of a skilled affiliation such because the NBA ought to be a perform of the character and monitor report of the individuals looking for to guide, their contribution to the career and the content material of their proposed programmes for the affiliation and never a perform of the depth of their pockets.
2.2.2 The menace brought on by the monetization of NBA elections has been acknowledged by some of the provisions in the election pointers contained in the second schedule to the NBA Structure. Particularly, part 2.3 (f), (g) and (h) search to manage the extent and the means by which candidates could marketing campaign. Nonetheless, these provisions are usually not sufficiently detailed and so they have been noticed extra within the breach in earlier elections than in obeisance.
2.3.1 I am of the view that the provisions of the election pointers must be much more detailed and prescriptive of what candidates for election into nationwide places of work in the affiliation can and can’t do and what branches, fora and sections of the affiliation should not do in an election 12 months. A non-exhaustive record of a number of the urged dos and don’ts are as follows:
(a) candidates for elective workplace ought to be prohibited from making any donations, both in money or variety, to any department, discussion board or part of the NBA in the calendar 12 months main up to an election;
(b) branches, fora and sections of the NBA ought to be prohibited from soliciting contributions/donations/sponsorship of any type from candidates who have signified an intention (whether or not formally or informally) to contest into any nationwide workplace;
(c) candidates who’ve signified an intention (whether or not formally or informally) to contest for election into any nationwide workplace ought to be prohibited from paying bodily visits to any branches of the affiliation or to any places of work of members of the affiliation to marketing campaign;
(d) the ECNBA ought to ship the manifestos of the candidates on to all of the eligible voters and candidates also needs to be capable to flow into their marketing campaign supplies electronically by means of on-line platforms;
(e) the ECNBA ought to organise debates, both bodily or digital, to be held between the candidates in every of the zones acknowledged by the NBA Structure for aspirants to the workplace of President and Normal Secretary whereas a single nationwide debate may be scheduled for aspirants to different places of work. In this point in time of expertise, I consider those that are genuinely involved with having good management will take out time to look at such debates and be capable to deduce from the manifestos and popularity of the aspirants, the individuals they really feel can do the job.
2.3.2 For these prescriptions to have any affect nonetheless, the ECNBA should set up that it has the need to implement the rules put in place. As I word in 2.2.2 above, the present pointers include some prescriptions and the ECNBA issued extra prescriptions within the run as much as the final elections. Nonetheless, these prescriptions and pointers had been flouted with seeming impunity, thus rendering them ineffective for his or her meant objective.
2.3.3 There are issues that regardless of the notoriety of the flouting of those pointers (together with undisputed proof circulated on social media), the ECNBA did not act, on the premise that it had not obtained a petition. The ECNBA ought to take a way more sturdy method to defending the sanctity of the electoral course of, in any other case establishing guidelines and prescriptions can be an train in futility.
- . Voters Verification Course of
Because the inception of digital voting by the NBA, one main supply of concern is the method of voter’s verification by the ECNBA as this has led to disenfranchisement of many citizens. This in flip has led to voter apathy because the quantity of voters in each election is far decrease than the quantity of registered or certified voters.
3.2 Space of Concern
Within the 2020 election, the method of voter verification was tedious and sophisticated for a lot of voters who needed to go to the NBA portal to add their credentials to be eligible to vote, even after paying their BPFs and Department Dues as and when due as required by the NBA Structure. The portal was sluggish and it took many days and a number of makes an attempt for some members to finish the verification course of. This resulted in lots of members changing into disenchanted with the course of and dropping curiosity in collaborating in the election.
The NBA should set up and preserve a normal database of all working towards legal professionals and replace similar yearly to replicate members that have complied with the necessities for working towards. This can assist the ECNBA in conducting the course of of voter verification at election time and present a seamless process for deciding the management of the NBA. The verification course of for eligible voters should be made less complicated with the usage of fashionable expertise and achieved instantly after the compilation of the voter’s roll and effectively in advance of the particular dates for the election to permit time for voters’ complaints to be handled by the ECNBA.
- . Voting Portal Integrity
Whereas the thought of digital voting is a welcome improvement, the final three NBA elections have been controversial with allegations of rigging and manipulation of the method. These allegations have arisen because of alleged or apparent inadequacies within the capability and integrity of the portals employed. A vivid instance is the numerous variety of voters who had been inexplicably unable to solid their votes within the final elections.
4.2 Space of Concern
The voting portal deployed within the final three NBA elections have confirmed to be unreliable. Within the final election, candidates had been saved in the darkish as to the id of the service suppliers and may not carry out an unbiased evaluation of the competence, capability or high quality of the portal.
4.3.1 I suggest that the institution of the voting portal and conduct of the precise elections ought to be outsourced to a skilled group with a popularity to guard, such as one of the huge 5 consulting companies.
4.3.2 Additionally, the numerous candidates should be allowed to interrogate the standard, capability and integrity of the portal by means of their chosen IT professionals.
5. Independence of the ECNBA Background
A main determinant of any electoral course of is the independence of the electoral umpire from any type of interference or management by inner or exterior events. It’s their independence that may assure them making choices with out bias in favour of or in opposition to any candidate.
5.2 Space of Concern
Part 9 and part 2.1(c) of the NBA Structure present that the members of the ECNBA shall be appointed by the Nationwide Government Committee (“NEC”). Nonetheless, in all of the elections which were held below this Structure, the sitting President of the NBA has unilaterally appointed the members of the ECNBA with out recourse to members of NEC and NEC has merely rubber stamped this determination. This has resulted in the sitting President exercising an overbearing affect over the ECNBA and has made it inconceivable for the ECNBA to have the requisite independence.
I suggest that the provisions of the Structure stipulating that members of the ECNBA ought to be appointed by NEC ought to be amended and be made extra prescriptive. I am of the view that the absence of a laid-out process for the appointment of ECNBA members is what has enabled the NBA Presidents to usurp this energy. I suggest that the members of the ECNBA ought to be a standing committee to be constituted ex-officio by the Chairmen of every of the Sections and Fora of the NBA in the interim, and with the Chairman of the ECNBA being essentially the most senior of those members.
- . Audit of End result
The final three elections of the NBA performed by way of digital means have been questioned by numerous curiosity teams as no provision was made for audit of the consequence to confirm the authenticity of the info obtained from the server earlier than declaring similar because the true place of the needs of the voters.
6.2 Area of Concern
The non-provision of audit of election consequence by the ECBNA or an unbiased committee has solid doubt on the authenticity of outcomes declared by the ECNBA. The failure to allow audits of previous elections, even when credible allegations of breaches of the election portal and compromise of the server have been made has brought on reputational harm to the NBA and fuelled the notion that these elections had been manipulated.
I suggest that, the place it is demanded by any of the candidates, provision be made for audit of election outcomes earlier than declaring similar as the ultimate consequence after shut of voting. The audit should be carried out inside a stipulated time frame by the ECNBA supported by an unbiased committee with the enter of the varied candidates.
- . Conclusion
7 .1 I thank you as soon as once more for the chance to contribute my ideas on this essential reform train. Our affiliation has survived three contentious and fractious elections below the digital voting and common suffrage system established below its 2015 Structure. Three makes an attempt over six years is a ample interval for us to determine and deal with all the teething issues that attend this method.
7.2 I am extraordinarily involved that the affiliation will not survive a fourth fractious election course of and this is what makes the work of this committee of such vital significance to the affiliation. I want you Godspeed in your deliberations and the knowledge to make the proper reform suggestions. I additionally want the management and membership of our affiliation the knowledge to undertake and faithfully implement such reform suggestions as are made within the frequent curiosity of the affiliation and all its members.
Dr. Babatunde Ajibade, SAN
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