Rising from a meeting at the Afe Babalola Bar Centre, Ibadan, the group threatened not to honour the long standing ‘gentleman’s agreement’ any longer if its presidential aspirants are not given exclusive shot at the NBA presidency come July 15.
Speaking for the Egbe, its leader, Chief Bandele Aiku (SAN) who spoke against the backdrop of requests by some aspirants from other regional fora for endorsement by the group, said the Egbe would only support such aspirants if their regional fora respected the right of the Southwest to produce the next NBA president.
Aiku traced the genesis of the zoning arrangement for the NBA presidency which is rotated among the three former regions – East, West and North – saying the latest rotation cycle started with the East which produced the incumbent NBA President Okey Wali,( SAN).
“The East started two years ago. This time around, it is essentially the turn of the Southwest. But there has been a lot of row as to whether the Midwest should come in as a forum,” he said.
He disclosed that leaders of the Midwest met with their southwest counterparts about two years ago, adding, “what we said to them was that it was not the position of the Midwest to present a candidate for the office of the president of the NBA in 2014. They said they would take that position of the Southwest back to their people in the Midwest.”
Noting that the Midwest leaders never reverted to the Southwest, Aiku said: “The position taken by the representatives of the Midwest as at that time – which was about two years ago – in a meeting that held in my house was that they would take our decision back home. We have not heard from them; the only thing we heard from the Midwest was the nomination of a (presidential) candidate to represent them come July 2014.”
The Egbe leader said the group has written to other regional fora “informing them of the position of the Southwest – that it is the turn of the Southwest to present a candidate or candidates for the office of president and not the Midwest. I hope you will carry that message back to your respective forums; that we still stand by that decision. And I am sure that by the information we have given to you now, I hope you will assist the cause of the Southwest. The position is, ‘scratch my back, I scratch your back’; if you assist our cause, we are prepared to assist your cause.” Aiku then thanked the aspirants for recognising the group.
Among the aspirants who sought the endorsement of the Egbe are Messrs Francies Ekwere for the post of NBA 1st Vice President; Afam Osigwe, Steve Abar and Reuben Usman James for the post of General Secretary; John Austin-Unachukwu (Publicity Secretary); C. C. Onwuzulike (Legal Adviser); Theophilus Terhile Igba (Welfare Secretary); Innocent Ochoga (Financial Secretary), and Mrs. Chinwe Nwadike (Treasurer).
Several Egbe members also sought endorsement by the forum, including Messrs Taiwo Taiwo (2nd Vice President); Akintokunbo Oluwole and Muheeb Komolafe (3rd Vice President); Rafiu Balogun (Legal Adviser); Mas’ud Alabelewe (Welfare Secretary), as well as Gbolahan Gbadamosi and Olukunle Edun (Publicity Secretary).
While NBA presidential aspirant Mrs. Funke Adekoya (SAN) attended the meeting to canvass support for her bid, another presidential aspirant Mr. Dele Adesina (SAN) also attended the parley.
The third presidential aspirant under the aegis of Egbe, Chief Niyi Akintola (SAN) and Mr. Osas Erhabor, another presidential aspirant, sent apologies.
The NBA election is scheduled to hold on July 15, 2014 in Abuja.
It is recalled that while the post of NBA president has been zoned to the West, the Midwest Bar had insisted that it would produce the next president as part of a sharing arrangement with the Southwest. However, Egbe leaders insist that no such arrangement was agreed upon, even as there are strong indications that the Egbe may have ceded the 2018 slot to the Midwest.
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