The President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Y.C Maikayau, OON, SAN has released an official statement as regards the Presidential and National Assembly elections held nationwide on the 25th of February, 2023.
Read Full Statement Below;
STATEMENT OF THE NBA PRESIDENT, YAKUBU CHONOKO MAIKYAU, OON,
SAN, ON THE PRESIDENTIAL AND NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS HELD ON 25 FEBRUARY 2023
1. I have in the last couple of days, since my interview with Channels Television was aired, read and received messages from some colleagues and Nigerians, expressing their displeasure over my assessment and rating of the Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC) on the elections held on Saturday, 25 February 2023. As one who spoke on the platform of the privileged position I currently occupy, President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), it is imperative that I make some clarifications in that regard in order to put matters in context and set the records straight.
2. Let me, as prelude, make it very clear that the NBA has no candidate in this election and would never have a candidate in any election; it is not a political party, has no affiliation with any political party either directly or indirectly and so is not sympathetic towards any political party. Therefore, whenever I speak from the privileged position of the NBA President, I do so conscious of these facts and, most particularly, always reminded of our
primary responsibility as legal practitioners; to provide direction to the people and advance the cause of this nation.
3. Like I had said in my previous statements and/or remarks, there is no better cause in which we, as legal practitioners, are called to provide direction to the people than in the
business of electing our leaders. Insufficient as the Constitutional framework may be in terms of its content and context, particularly with regards to the limitation of our choice
of those who occupy elective offices (given the fact that only persons sponsored by political parties can contest elections), elections remain one of the greatest causes – a veritable tool by which all Nigerians, properly guided, participate in the exercise of their franchise individually and collectively, to literally chart a course for the future of our dear nation.
4. I therefore in all humility, have an appreciable understanding of the magnitude of this national task and will not, under any guise or circumstances, make light of this exercise nor in any way treat same with levity or disdain. Like Malcolm X said “I am for truth no matter who tells it. I am for justice, no matter whom it is for or against.” This is what I strive to be known for; live by and I am committed to – it is the legacy I hope to leave and be remembered for, God Almighty helping me. Let me add that, as one who is privileged to be a Christian by the grace of God, I do have some understanding that it is God Almighty and Him alone, Who permits anyone to come to the place of authority. I therefore know without a doubt, that there is nothing I can do or omit to do, to “help” God bring His plans and purposes for Nigeria to come to pass. Like you all know, and I do not mind saying it again, I am one who God has permitted to take the place of leadership in the NBA.
5. With all the emotions surrounding the general elections, particularly the Presidential elections, I quite understand how quickly one may forget how far we have come as a country in our journey towards a more perfect electoral process. We are not where we should be, but we definitely have made some progress. Needless to recount the human and material losses we suffered as aftermaths of previous general elections; the fear of disintegration as a nation and even recently, the “prophecy” of doom which saw many, if not all, foreign nationals evacuated out of Nigeria by their respective governments; they moved out with their pets (dogs and cats) signifying lack of hope and confidence in our survival and continued existence as a people.
6. The movement by the foreign nationals out of Nigeria was sudden, almost spontaneous, created a terrible sense of emergency, and heightened concerns/fears about the security and stability of this nation. But these same nationals sneaked back into Nigeria. There was no drama when they came back; they joined in monitoring/observing the elections
that were not to hold, were we to go by that prophecy of doom. When whatever made foreign nationals to scamper out of Nigeria in October 2022 either ceased to be or was overcome, we were not informed. We also, at least speaking for myself, do not know what caused the anxiety that was responsible for that exodus. Whatever that was, we weathered the storm.
7. That we are here today not only thinking about the possibility of the conduct of the elections, but that Presidential and National Assembly elections have actually held, is in
itself one of the greatest successes recorded by us as a nation. The level of cynicism and suspicion about the holding of the elections was so palpable that many Nigerians either contemplated moving their families out of Nigeria or already did so. The situation became so bad that insinuations of military takeover were so rife which necessitated the spokesperson of the Defence Headquarters, Brigadier General Tukur Gusau, to make a public statement and reassure Nigerians that the Nigerian Armed Forces has no intention, desire, and/or plans to do such an uncivilized, unpatriotic, unlawful and unconstitutional act.
8. This, however, does not in any way reduce the burden on INEC, or the expectation of Nigerians, of a free, fair, and credible election. But it is only fair and realistic that, while we deal with the issues confronting us in these elections, we must not fail to appreciate and be grateful for the function of the grace of God Almighty in the life of our Nation.
9. To be very clear, there were challenges with the presidential elections which no one could have ignored and which I have not failed to acknowledge in my previous reports and public statements.
10. I do note that evolving a culture of civility in our political debates and discussions is, in many respects, still work in progress. Given the level of animosity within large parts of the Nigerian society and the divide along our traditional fault lines leading up to the elections, including the shocking levels of hate speech on social media, it was in itself a miracle that the usual disappointing levels of infractions in certain parts of Nigeria on Election Day were limited.