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Olumide Akpata’s Journey to NBA Presidency

Olumide Akpata  has secured an unprecedented victory and has become the new president of the Nigerian Bar Association.  Akpata had faced strong competition, but his supporters remained steadfast, describing him as a much needed disruption of the status quo. Following months of controversies and campaigns, Akpata won the election with 9708 votes defeating Julius Oladele Adesina,SAN and Dr. Babatunde Ajibade, SAN, FCIARB.

Below is a brief biography and his journey to NBA presidency.

Background

Olumide Akpata graduated with a degree in Law  from the University of Benin (UNIBEN) in 1992, and was called to the Nigerian Bar on 15 December, 1993. He served in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), in Kano State after which he joined the firm of Dr. Mudiaga Odje & Co. in Warri, Delta State where he honed his skills under the tutelage of the late, great sage: Dr. Mudiaga Odje, SAN, OFR, who was one of the most seasoned Litigators of his time. 

Templars

Olumide Akpata relocated to Lagos and teamed up with his cousin, Oghogho Akpata, who had just set up the law firm, Templars, the previous year. Together, they built Templars into a world class, multi-sectoral and full-service law firm which is now in the 25th year of its existence and consists of over 100 fee-earners, including two Senior Advocates of Nigeria.

Major transactions

Olumide is currently Senior Partner and Head of the Corporate & Commercial Practice Group of Templars and throughout his career has either led or participated in some of the major groundbreaking transactions that have shaped commercial law practice in Nigeria and the Nigerian economy. Some of these transactions include:

  • Advising the Nigerian Bureau of Public Enterprises on the restructuring and unbundling of the now defunct state-owned power monopoly, National Electric Power Authority, ultimately resulting in the several successor companies to NEPA and the now largely privatised Nigerian power sector;   
  • Advising American Tower Corporation on its US$1.05 billion acquisition of telecommunication towers and passive infrastructure business from Airtel Networks Limited;  
  • Advising Azura Power West Africa Limited and its sponsors on the pioneering development and financing of a circa US$1 billion greenfield 459MW independent power plant in Edo State, Nigeria; 
  • Advising Google Inc. on the deployment of Google Street View in Nigeria which is a technology featured in Google Maps and Google Earth that promote interactive views along many streets in the world; 
  • Advising Diamond Bank on its merger with Access Bank PLC which resulted in the emergence of Africa’s largest retail bank (by customers) and one of the largest lenders in Nigeria.

Previous work with the NBA

Olumide began participating in the activities of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), as soon as he joined the law firm of Dr. Mudiaga Odje & Co.. He is a foundation member of the NBA-SBL, and worked closely with the pioneer Chairman of the Section, Mr. George Etomi. Akpata’s active participation in the NBA-SBL led to his election, in January 2012, as Secretary of the NBA-SBL Council. He was subsequently elected as Vice-Chairman in August 2014 and then as Chairman in August 2016. His two-year tenure as Chairman of the NBA-SBL was eventful and impactful, organising several enriching conferences and seminars, as well as partnering with several international bodies all in a bid to engender the professional development of Nigerian commercial lawyers and raising the level of business law practice in Nigeria.

NBA Presidency

The NBA elections have drawn controversy especially with regards to the dominance of SANs as Presidents. This of course presented a barrier to Akpata, who himself isn’t a SAN. Akpata had to fend off two stiff and respected contestants who were SANs. This meant that he had to appeal to the younger generation of lawyers who were eager to break agelong traditions. He eventually won the election, accruing 54.2% of the votes, and becoming the first non-SAN in years to be voted NBA President.

Written by Emeka Nweze

Content writer and contributor.

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