Okey Wali declared president-elect of Nigeria Bar Association
The umbrella body of lawyers admitted to practice law in Nigeria held their election in Abuja where new national officers of the body emerged.
Mr Wali polled 688 votes to beat his closest rival, Emeka Ngige (SAN). Mr Ngige had 449 votes while a third candidate, Mr Blessing Ukiri scored 2 votes.
In other results, Justy Osas Erabor emerged first vice president while current publicity secretary, Emeka Obegolu beat 2 others to emerge as the General Secretary of the NBA.
Joyce Oduah of the Lagos branch emerged as the treasurer of the association while Mr Afam Obi was declared the publicity secretary.
Wali had in a chat with a national daily, before the election, promised to return professionalism to the bar. He further said that the bar was in need of total transformation as N1 billion worth of jobs goes to foreign firms and the status quo needs to be changed.
“My vision for the Bar is that of a professionalised Bar; professionalised in the sense of keeping to the best traditions of the profession, best ethics, which we seem to have lost a lot of grounds on.
“If after two years of NBA presidency, the only thing I achieved is to change the image of the profession and to change the ethical standards, I would have left the NBA a very satisfied man.
“I mean professionalisation in the aspect of work. If you go through my brochure, you will find out that I have made a lot of emphasis on the expansion of the frontiers of legal practice.
“At least N1 billion worth of jobs go to foreign law firms. We are going to look at it critically and address some of the issues that cause it. Is it skills gap, we want to address them and make sure that jobs are done by Nigerian lawyers in Nigeria.”
On the rumour that he is a candidate of the NBA administration,
He said: “That is the unkindest of cuts for anybody to refer to me. At the risk of sounding immodest, by my standing in the profession, you can assess me.
“I was the secretary of Port Harcourt branch of the NBA as far back as 1992. 1 was the chairman of a big branch of the NBA like the Port Harcourt branch in 1998. I have served as the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Rivers State. I am a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and I am a bencher.
“With all these attainments in life, it will be an abuse of language for anybody to look at me as a man that can be controlled by anybody.
The President-elect, Mr Okey Wali in his acceptance speech asked the rest of the country to learn from the successful conduct of the NBA election.
He promised his colleagues that the incoming executives will not let them down and encouraged members of the NBA to come forward with suggestions on how to move the association forward.
Okey Wali was born on October 29, 1958 in Rumualogu, Akpor in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State. He began his primary education at the Port Harcourt Township School and completed it at St. Paul’s Primary School Diobu, Port Harcourt.
After obtaining his First School Leaving Certificate in 1973, he enrolled in Government Comprehensive Secondary School, Borikiri, Port Harcourt.
He also attended Baptist High School, Port Harcourt where he obtained his West African School Certificate in 1978. Upon completion of his secondary education, which he topped with the Higher School Certificate obtained in 1980. Okey Wali travelled abroad to attend the prestigious University of Buckingham, United Kingdom and graduated with Bachelor of Law (Hons) degree in 1983.
He returned home for the mandatory one-year vocational training at the Nigerian Law School, in Lagos, where he added Barrister at Law in l984 Certificate to his academic acquisitions.