In 2010, the National election of the Nigerian Bar Association took place in Ibadan. It was a delegate election. The last time the North will have their turn under the delegate system of election. JK Gadzama and JB Daudu were in the race which ended in favour of JB Daudu but delegates on their way home from Ibadan, took two important lessons home. Those lessons were learnt from how J.K Gadzama ran his campaign until the results were announced.
The delegate election was not democratic especially for an organization of lawyers but it was easier to manage. Elections were physical, more transparent and most importantly more predictable. Most times, lawyers knew who was going to emerge as their President.
In the evening of that Election Day in July 2010, Late Obi Okwusogu SAN the election umpire, announced the result and the whole hall erupted into both jubilation and gloom depending on the side of the divide one belonged.
Amidst the tension that usually characterize election announcements, J.K Gadzama stepped in and congratulated J.B Daudu for his victory. That may not be unusual but the sincerity of which that concession was made melted everyone’s heart. When the then outgoing President, Rotimi Akeredolu SAN stood between them to make a speech, everyone struggled to take pictures. Pictures that will forever remain memorable in the minds of those who were there in that late July of 2010. “I was there.”
As buses departed Ibadan for different parts of the country the following day, lawyers continued to talk about the lessons learnt from that legendary act of leadership especially the sincerity of which it was done.
The second lesson will come from his courage in finishing that election when he was obviously running against the whole cabal that ran the bar at the time. The delegate election was prone to manipulation. It was easy to arrive at an expected outcome in NBA elections during the delegate system. JK Gadzama exhibited courage that reverberated across the country among many lawyers but unfortunately, majority of them were not qualified to vote because of the delegate system
In 2016 JK Gadzama ran again. It will be the first time all lawyers will be eligible to vote. Service to the bar had shifted to the north again. After that election, he did something that will change the way lawyers respond to election outcomes. It liberated lawyers. That will be a conversation for another time.
Anthony Atata has been documenting NBA local and national elections since 2009