57th NBA Annual General Conference – We Came, We Saw, We Conquered

A.B Mahmoud SAN and Prof Koyin Ajayi SAN

The 57th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association has come and gone leaving on its trail, a heroic gait. The conference was by far the most popular conference in the history of NBA Annual General Conference. From the time the committee was set up  to the very last day of the conference, exciting and thought provoking issues kept arising from the conference.

It all began on Thursday, June 22, 2017 at the NBA Ikeja Branch Secretariat Auditorium, where the NBA President Mallam Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud SAN OON unveiled the 2017 NBA Conference. The Chairman of the Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP), Professor Koyinsola Ajayi, SAN at the event, promised intending conferees a world-class conference. Was this a promise delivered? Join us on the review of the events from a rating perspective.

Conference Fee and Registration

The preparations for the conference may have started on a good footing for those working behind the scene but for those of us on the scene it was a poor beginning. The registration process was seriously marred by varied problems.  The greatest pandemonium arose with the hike in the fees payable by conferees. This was greeted by so much criticism by many including yours truly. The second was the abrupt closure of  early bird registration for certain categories of lawyers. Other issues were the opening and closure and reopening of the conference site. The confusion was unprecedented. Even the optimists began to agree that the conference was going to fail. However, things where managed.

According to the President of the NBA, the conference was initially planned for just 5000 lawyers but had to be increased to over a hundred percent to 11,000.

At the end, arrangements were made and various participation options were provided; Conference venue, the Landmark Event Centre; Viewing Centers and live broadcast from DSTV and GOTV.  These to a great extent mitigated the crisis.

A Possible areas of improvement would be for subsequent conference to expect that all lawyers would attend the conference. The only reason why there was crisis was because the TCCP or the Bar Executives pegged the attendance to a very low number. It is however commendable that despite the over hundred percent increase things were controlled relatively. This is an indication that an adequate plan would deliver a much desired result.

Rating: we rate the TCCP Below Average.

Collection of Conference Materials

It is on record that the 57th Annual Conference was the first conference that conferees collected their conference materials few days  to the commencement of the conference. The collection process for those who did not have issues was seamless and fast. Majority of the conferees fail into this category and came to the conference with their conference materials.

For those that were not successful, a crisis center was created albeit late, at the former NBA Secretariat near the Law School in Lagos. Despite the long wait and the queue, many issues were further resolved within time for some, while others had to wait till after the conference. The NBA President assured during the AGM that tablets adequate for registered lawyers are available and would be distributed after the conference.

The improvement one would  expect to see here would be for the organizers to ensure that first, conference materials are distributed earlier. This is more so as the papers presented were not pre-uploaded. There was no known reason to us why the materials were not distributed two weeks before the date. Be that as it may, the TCCP would know better. A second improvement should be on crisis center and management. If set up  in the various branches of the NBA few days before the conference, and a 24 hours help desk service, conference material would be delivered to all registered conferees prior to the conference.

Rating: On collection of materials we Rate the TCCP Average.

Conference Venue Logistics

Halls and Facilities

Anyone that was at the Landmark Event Centre would attest to the fact that the halls had good facilities; Air conditioning, lighting, sound and connectivity. There was no reason for anyone to complain about a thing. There were about 4 halls for breakout sessions. All the halls were linked together and participation was well coordinated. The rest room was well groomed and well attended to despite the number of persons that had to access them at the same time.

Transportation: BRTs (Bus Rapid Transport) were provided at designated points to convey conferees to and from the Event Centre. The buses were so numerous that they were underutilized. There was transport even within the conference venue and this to us was amazing.

Feeding: Living up to its promise, the Prof. Konyisola Ajayi’s TCCP provided world class breakfast and lunch during the conference. Conferees had enough to eat and drink and were served like nobles. The attendants knew they were serving members of the noble profession and the quality of food was above average.  There were two designated lunch venue at the Event Centre and there were BRTs on standby to conveyed Conferees to and from the lunch venue. This is the first time an annual conference would provide breakfast and lunch to every conferee without rancor.

 In my personal view, there is really nothing to improve on here. Except that because of human excesses, a successive committee may have to provide some check  to avoid unnecessary wastage. If a tag for breakfast and lunch was given to each conferee, it would restrict the number of access and control human excesses.

Rating: For logistics we Rate the TCCP  Above Average

 Conference Topics and Resource Persons

The theme of the conference was: “African Business: Penetrating through Institution Building”. Personally, I am yet to see a conference that arrayed the kind of intellectuals seen at the 57th Annual General Conference of the NBA. The general skepticism was that most of the speakers may not attend or may attend by proxy. How wrong; I stand to be corrected but by all standards, the TCCP gathered pioneers and influencers from government, business, professional services, and the academia from around the globe to anchor sessions, discuss cutting edge issues and have lively debates on the various angles of the conference theme.

Our view is that for the Theme of this year’s conference, the various sessions as well as resource persons were second to none and we can only hope that the standard is improved or just maintained by successors.

Rating: we rate the TCCP above average

Conference Dinner

The Dinner was well organized but not well attended. For some reasons the number that attended the dinner was a far cry from the number that attended the conference. By and large it was a world class dinner according to my standard. The President of the Nigerian Bar Association who could no longer hide his joy went into a hugging feat. Even with Prof. Konyi’s warning to him not to hug the female members of the committee. His hugging feat climaxed with Konyi’s hug. It was epic and very emotional. I was moved! President AB Mahmoud SAN had the expression “I could not have chosen a better person”

Rating: attendance, below average, Dinner above average

Overall rating

The TCCP delivered a world class conference with hitches here and there. We would attribute the hitches to human errors. For the singular reason that the conference was a conference of many firsts and many innovations one would not be wrong to say that the TCCP performed above average. As with every first outing, there is room for improvement. The conference was by every standard well organized and well attended.

Our genuine believe is that the 58th conference would see improvements on the 57th conference and not otherwise.  If this is done, A.B Mahmoud SAN OON with all due respect would have left a shoe too big and scary for his successors to step into as far as NBA Conference is concerned. We can only hope that if the person who would step into this gigantic shoe cannot improve on the standard going forward, the standard at least should be maintained and not lowered!

Congratulations to AB Mahmoud SAN

Congratulations to the TCCP

It was indeed a good outing! Our verdict!

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