We established the NBA Institute of Continuing Legal Education in 2007 and the Bar approved a Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) programme. This was under the impetus of Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN as the NBA President and Lawal Rabana, SAN as General Secretary.
The commencement of the MCLE and the establishment of the Institute was the result of a strong advocacy for a mandatory programme by this writer that started in the 1990s.
When the NBA NEC approved the MCLE Rules and Guidelines in 2007, it set up a Board for the Institute under the rules. The first Chairman was Late Prof Jegede, SAN. The NBA President and Secretary or their representatives were (are) members of the Board. The Institute was set up as a semi-autonomous institution with a Board and a Director- all reporting to the NBA NEC and AGM. The Institute was not set up as a membership organ or arm like NBA Sections and Forums.
As in other civilised places, the Institute had (has) the responsibility to drive the MCLE programme. It controlled the programme, accredited service providers and CLE programmes. It monitored programmes and awarded credits. It determined exemptions, and MCLE credit reporting periods.
After a few years of operation, the MCLE programme collapsed because the vision changed. As can be seen in the 2015 NBA Constitution, the Institute’s approved Rules have been abandoned and the Institute has been categorised as a membership organ or arm of the NBA like Sections and Forums – a clear anomaly and an aberration.
The easy way we abandon visions and corrupt our dreams is one main reason why under the proposed Legal Profession Regulation Bill, the control and management of the mandatory continuing legal education programme (MCLE) has been taken away from the NBA and vested in the Legal Profession Regulation Council of Nigeria. The actual work of regulating and oversight of the MCLE programme shall be carried out by the Education Committee of the Council.
In the future then, if the Legal Profession Regulation Bill becomes Law, the NBA’s change of leadership will no more alter the vision of the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Programme. Our MCLE will then become and remain a live programme.
The best way to predict the future is to create it. – Peter Drucker
By Prof Ernest Ojukwu, SAN (Chair of the Future State of the Legal Profession Subcommittee of the LPRRC; was the Pioneer Director of the NBA Institute of Continuing Legal Education 2007- 2010)