National Executive Committee meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association has finally ended. The meeting which was held at Le Meridien Ibom Golf Resort, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State was packaged with deliberations that are of immense benefit to the legal profession. The meeting began from Wednesday the 22nd and ended on Friday the 24th of November, 2017.
During the meeting, matters of great importance were discussed by the National body headed by the NBA President, A.B. Mahmoud SAN, and decisions were reached on salient issues affecting the Nigerian Bar Association.
Issues that were discussed include matters of the amendment of the NBA Constitution, arrears of outstanding branch practice fees, the establishment of Micro Finance Bank and so on.
On the amendment of the 2015 Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association as proposed by the current administration, the president in responding to the questions that were asked pointed out that if there will be an amendment of the 2015 Constitution of the Association, it will be done in line with the law regulating the Association. The president in clarifying the issue on the proposed constitutional amendment said that the amendment will not have any effect on the forth coming election, in 2018 contrary to what many think. He also urged NEC members to support the amendment noting that it is a progress that will help NBA to be globalized which will be in line with international best practice. Speaking further, the president added that the constitutional amendment is not targeted at the next election but it is for the progress of the Bar. “one of the major areas to be touched on the constitution is the need to strengthen succession plan,” the president said.
During the session, the Lagos branch chairman, Mr. Chukwuka Ikwuazom, raised the issue that they have not received the 2016 and 2017 20% bar practicing fee due to branches. The Owerri branch chairperson, Mr. Lawerance Nwakaeti also reminded NEC that he has already filed report on NEC bond over this issue. The president in his response directed the treasurer, Aisha Ado Abdullahi, to compile the list of branches for the outstanding practice fee for immediate payment. The president also reminded the branches of the reasons they have not received their payment. This he attributed to lack of funds and some projects that are being carried out.
Another area of importance during the meeting was the establishment of a Micro Finance Bank. The issue of the Association owing a Micro finance bank was an idea that didn’t go down well with the NEC members. The idea was objected on the ground that the association is not a money making venture and as such, ideas of that nature will not be welcomed in the association.
With respect to the oncoming election, the president of the Association made an appeal to the presidential aspirants to take it easy. According to him, the tempo at which aspirants are going about the whole campaign issue is very high and this is not good for the association being an association of professionals. “Remember there is still ban on the campaign…. There’s no particular candidate I have my interest on. All I want is the best hand that can lead the bar,”A.B. Mahmoud, SAN said. He therefore advised aspirants at all level to play cool with the right spirit.
Also, about officers elected after the conduct of election in Aba, Abia State who were not recognized at the NEC meeting; the president said the reason was because the election has generated controversy in the branch. According to him, there was a rancor in the branch concerning the election of the new chairman. He however promised to intervene in the crisis to see how the crisis will be resolved once and for all.
At the meeting, there were some reports which were supposed to be read at the NEC meeting which were actually not read. The NBA president promised to make the reports available to all NEC members as soon as possible. He as well assured them that the reports will be read in the next NEC meeting, as the reports will be made available before the next meeting for reading. The meeting was never complete without the swearing in of Mr. John Unachukwu (John Austin) as the Publicity Secretary of the NBA.
The meeting ended with many deliberations full of high expectations. Based on how the meeting ended, it is hoped that at the next NEC meeting, certain issues that were perhaps not deliberated upon will be addressed as the Legal profession approaches the next legal year.