The Nigerian Bar Association has a tradition of holding governments accountable to the people.
The glorious era of former NBA President Alao Aka-Bashorun among others has always been recalled with pride by many lawyers.
This is consistent with the hallowed role of the lawyer as a defender of the rights of the average person and or the oppressed.
The average lawyer, nay Nigerian, always looks up to the NBA to show the light in moments of national crisis. This is also in tune with the perception of NBA as the _conscience of the nation._
It was the inimitable Martin Luther King Jnr (MLK) who, when torn between country and an unjust war, said: “Now, I’ve chosen to preach about the war in Vietnam because i agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal.”
MLK also said: “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” NBA has always been deemed as a friend of the Nigerian masses.
Accordingly, when the NBA keeps silent in the face of a major national crisis, it loses its moral authority – not only with its members but with the larger society.
Taken this far, such silence inevitably becomes a betrayal of its members and their collective resolve to ‘promote the rule of law.’
It is also such silence that emboldens people of conscience to action. The press conference held by the Ikeja Branch of the association speaks eloquently to this state of anomie.
I am advised that the NBA has a partnership with the Nigerian Army. However, if and when such partnership becomes a burden, the NBA has a moral burden and duty to throw it overboard in order to discharge its solemn mandate to its members, to Nigerians and to humanity.
I must end. But not without yet another eloquent saying by Martin Luther King who admonished us thus: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Let the NBA speak, and let its voice resonate with courage, patriotic fervor and moral authority.