Former deputy director general of the Nigeria Law School, Prof Ernest Ojukwu (SAN) has called for intense capacity building for lawyers.
The former university teacher said such would boost the interest of lawyers to participate in the activities of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and enhance professionalism.
In a chat with selected media organisations in Lagos, he said, the NBA needs to be reawakened so people would begin to see the importance of the bar.
He said: “As long as lawyers don’t see the benefits, they will not participate in the activities of NBA and that is what is lacking.
“If you create programmes that benefit them, the country, their relations, then they will see reason to own it and be part of it. So it is the activity of the bar that creates participation.”
Prof. Ojukwu also criticized the fee which lawyers pay in order to obtain a reference letter from the NBA, saying such was unnecessary and wrong.
“The bar for example charges members a fee for acquiring a reference or recommendation letter. The bar charges N5000 for such service. No member of the bar, who has paid his practicing fee should be charged for a recommendation,” he declared, pointing out that the income that is generated by such fee is too infinitesimal to amount to anything.
According to him, there is need to reconsider the conference fees, especially for young lawyers.
Ojukwu emphasized the need to create a robust continuous learning programme for lawyers, adding that 80 percent of the activities of every profession world over are based on capacity building for their membership.
His words: “How many lawyers have an idea of what is called bitcoins? They know nothing about it. Do you know it is a moneymaking venture and everybody; even carpenters are going into it? Yet the bar has not run one workshop, conference or seminar on it.”
On the issue of health, he stressed the need for health insurance scheme that would take care of member’s health conditions.
He berated the bar for not running even a single competition in law faculties of universities across the country, adding that lack of ethics in the curricula of legal education is a disservice to the future of the profession.
“There are so many activities, if we do them, people will want to belong and people will donate money. There is no single competition around the bar. In other places, the bar runs competition, from business law to several aspect of law, so by the time law students are leaving the faculty of law, they have already formed careers opinions because it is through those platforms they push their careers. People come out of the university in Nigeria and they don’t know where they are going to, after national youth service,” he lamented.