I read a few days ago that as at September end 2019, the NBA National leadership had saved over N800 million in the NBA COFFERS. The truth is, the PUSAN NBA National leadership has brought probity and transparency to the Bar. Everyone is now following suit. Hear what Mr. Dele Oloke, Chairman, NBA, Ikeja Branch: “it is no longer news that the hallmark of both the Paul Usoro (SAN)-led National and Dele Oloke-led branch executive of NBA is transparency and financial probity. It was to this end that the Ikeja branch at its monthly meeting of July 2018, prohibited cash collection of any kind.”
I think it is pertinent at this juncture to point out just a few of the numerous landmark achievements already recorded by the current NBA National Leadership ably led by Paul Usoro
- The PUSAN NBA National Leadership was the first to introduce an online platform for payment of Bar Practicing fees (BPF) and some other fees by NBA Members.
- The PUSAN NBA National Leadership has launched NBA into core Corporate Governance principles and concepts.
- The present NBA Administration has prioritized as a matter of policy financial transparency, discipline and prudence. It has cut down all costs in the running of NBA affairs.
- The PUSAN NBA National Leadership has given NBA the first Conference that ensured that ALL registered delegates collected conference materials in the most seamless manner.
- The PUSAN NBA National Leadership was the first NBA leadership to introduce the use of an Online Mobile Interactive App during an NBA-AGC. The Whova App became the talk of the town and the story of the whose experience would take long to depart from the lips of an overwhelming majority of Nigerian lawyers.
- The PUSAN NBA National Leadership broke all existing records when it launched the NBA Women Forum that’s set to give prominence to promotion of women-Lawyers’ rights and privileges while for the first time bringing to the front burner gender-related issues and ensuring that all prejudices and over-shadowy discriminatory practices against women lawyers become a thing of the past.
- The PUSAN Leadership kept its promise to amend NBA’s Constitution, by effecting a seamless amendment that is set to launch NBA into a future that is full of promises for Nigerian lawyer.
- The PUSAN NBA National Leadership was the first NBA National leadership to slash the workforce at the NBA National secretariat and still perform at a faster, more effective and efficient rate than those before it.
- The PUSAN NBA National Leadership has eliminated much of the complaints, hassles and difficulties hitherto associated with the process of issuance of the Stamp and seal, an innovation introduced into NBA’s life by the AUSTIN ALEGEH Administration. Under the PUSAN NBA National Leadership, seals are now being issued promptly.
- The PUSAN NBA National Leadership was the first NBA National Leadership to give full recognition to Academics in all aspects of planning and running of NBA’s affairs. With this, the PUSAN leadership has rekindled the zeal of law teachers in NBA’s affairs.
- The PUSAN NBA National Leadership is a most pragmatic and dynamic NBA Leadership, whose major motto is “PUTTING YOU FIRST,” and who has gone ahead to actualize this promise in a manner that ensures the best interest of NBA Members is the centerpiece of all planning and policy implementation within the NBA. Did we not witness firsthand the level of responsiveness a true leadership can demonstrate with the manner the PUSAN-leadership-constituted TCCP for the NBA-AGC-2019 handled all complaints by delegates to the conference on 26 August 2019. The TCCP and Mr. PUSAN himself had launched a midnight meeting that lasted till 3.00am the result being a 100 percent reversal the next day, of the reasons for the complaints of the previous day. Nigeria lawyers saw firsthand what it truly means to PUT THEIR INTERESTS FIRST.
- The PUSAN NBA National Leadership has made Promotion of Rule of Law & Fight against Executive Lawlessness, Arbitrariness and Disobedience of Court Orders an integral working code of the NBA; NBA no longer sits on the fence! The PUSAN Leadership has energized and resuscitated the traditional role of NBA as the watchdog of Nigeria’s constitutional democracy, having the responsibility of promoting and sustaining independence of the judiciary, separation of powers and supremacy of rule of law. NBA can now be truly called fearless judging from its sustained and consistent efforts in speaking up and fighting against arbitrariness, lawlessness and abuse of power. The facts speak for themselves. Besides, there is another related major achievement of the PUSAN leadership: Protection and promotion of the independence of the NBA. Under this administration, the NBA is not used as a tool by the Federal or State Government. The NBA is completely independent of Government. None of its decision is influenced by Government.
- To ensure that NBA remains independent, and free to pursue and fulfil its core mandate, the Paul Usoro leadership has put a stop to the hitherto rampant attitude of NBA national Leadership accepting State Governors’ offer of sponsorship of NBA National Executive Committee (NEC) Meetings in a manner that had forced the NEC meetings to rotate around different venues and places in the country, while the NBA House, a giant architectural edifice located in the heart of Abuja, FCT, lied fallow. NBA under Mr. Usoro, SAN, has now insisted and ensured that NBA NEC Meetings are held in the NBA House in Abuja. Apart from several other benefits recorded with this innovative prudent step, this has also contributed in extricating the NBA from its previous attachment and hobnobbing with various State Governments in a manner that constituted a sort of hindrance to NBA’s independent-mindedness in pursuit of set goals.
- Financial and human resources audit in the NBA by the PUSAN leadership has consequently prevented unnecessary expenses and debt. NBA under Paul Usoro, SAN has made and saved more money instead incurring debt. The PUSAN Leadership of the NBA has successfully undertaken both financial and human resources audit of the NBA to forestall leakages and waste of resources — human, material and financial resources. This has saved millions for the NBA.
- Bridging the gap between NBA National and the Branches. Under this administration, there is a constant interaction with the Branches. The Branch Chairmen have a sense of belonging. The PUSAN Presidency has established a solid platform for seamless interaction and synoptic synergy with all branch Chairmen and secretaries of the NBA across Nigeria for a more effective administration of the branches, prompt feedback and reporting.
- Operating under a policy of “Any attack against one lawyer anywhere in Nigeria is an attack against all lawyers in Nigeria and attack against NBA itself,” the Paul Usoro-led NBA leadership has successfully waded into and resolved all reported cases of harassment of Nigerian Lawyers in the course of the lawful discharge of their professional responsibilities, and on many occasions risen in defence of members of the legal profession who are unlawfully harassed by security agencies. PUSAN has reiterated that NBA under his leadership would never fold its arms and watch any member either of the Bar or of the Bench to be illegally harassed or victimized!
- Constitution and inauguration of the NBA YOUNG LAWYERS FORUM (YLF) is still very fresh in our minds.
- The PUSAN NBA National Leadership has resuscitated the long-abandoned payment of 10 percent of the collected Bar Practicing Fees to NBA Branches across the country. All branches can testify to this fact. One Branch Chairman in appreciation observed that this was a huge improvement on the past.
- The PUSAN NBA National Leadership, unlike predecessors, has not borrowed any money. On the contrary, the PUSAN NBA National Leadership has saved more money for the NBA than had anyone before it.
- For the first time, NBA’s AGC was organized with huge success and turnout with NBA NOT borrowing any money for this purpose and without any money being taken from the NBA administration purse/account. Instead, after the Conference, unspent portion (over N200 million) of the monies (realized storm registration fees, donations, sale of products and services during the conference, etc) were remitted to the NBA administration account for use in running the NBA. Which administration had ever done this? None!
- The PUSAN NBA National Leadership has completed work on provision of permanent, pervasive internet services at the NBA NATIONAL SECRETARIAT. This unprecedented innovation was launched during the December 2019 NBA NEC Meeting and internet has been steady since then.
- The PUSAN NBA National Leadership has started working to create a permanent online database for all NBA activities to ensure a seamless transition and continuation of NBA activities by future NBA national leaderships. This is unprecedented because in the past, every new administration usually started afresh from the scratch since it was difficult to retrieve the work of preceding/previous administrations.
- Promotion, sensitization and awareness program, in collaboration with MacArthur, for the domestication of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act in 3 States – Niger, Imo and Nasarawa States. This is another milestone recorded by the current NBA LEADERSHIP.
- ANOTHER FEAT: Effective and quality representation at international professional bodies like the IBA and other organizations.
- Organizing the most attended and well organized NBA AGC – The 2019 NBA AGC held in Lagos is adjudged by lawyers as the best AGC ever.
- Constantly mediating and aiding amicable resolution of disputes in various branches of the NBA.
- The Paul Usoro led administration has established a system where the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Association examines the account of the association every quarter, approves of every expenditure and the financial statement of the association is published every quarter for the benefit of members and the public. The administration has made it a duty to lead and show example of financial propriety to the larger society by engaging one of the big accounting four – PWC to offer the NBA National leadership accounting services and their audited account and the figures therein including but not limited to the liability of the past administration is a product of the painstaking and professional services offered to the NBA by this reputed accounting firm.
- What about election monitoring Committees set up by the current NBA National leadership & prompt publication of observer/monitoring reports? It should be noted that hardly had any previous NBA National leadership published results of such election-observer exercise. It is also instructive that nobody or organization has challenged any of the election monitoring reports published under the PUSAN Leadership. Have you read NBA’s reports on the just-concluded 2019 Bayelsa and Kogi States’ governorship elections?
- The PAUL USORO NBA National Leadership has just launched & published an NBA-AGC Policy Book, a compendium of the action-plans & policy directives from the 2019 NBA-AGC. It was launched during the last NEC. Such had never before been published.
- What about the insurance scheme put in place by the PUSAN LEADERSHIP FOR NBA MEMBERS? A great milestone! Mr. Usoro’s address to THE December 2029 NEC meeting captured this innovation very well.
- Finally, I need to observe here that feelers from the NBA SECRETARIAT, verified by me, show that MR PAUL USORO is the only President in history for whom NBA money has never been spent. He pays all his bills from his personal resources & also he (not the NBA) foots all the bills of his Personal Assistants (PA’s). When asked why, I heard that MR. Paul Usoro had answered, “I am here to serve NBA and Nigerian lawyers & that’s all I am doing and I am doing so at my personal cost.”
This list is not exhaustive. But I think it’s become pertinent to point out where a people have done well. It would serve as a pat on the back for a job well done and an encouragement to do more. I now invite objective comments from Nigerian Lawyers on this personally-compiled list. Please feel free to verify or disprove any item of this list. Let’s have a discussion. Meanwhile, I would like to reiterate my earlier words in March 2019 when I referred us to the words of Ronald Regan (40th president of the United States of America): “the greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” This is one attribute, among many, that stands the Paul Usoro NBA leadership out — humility and foresight in selecting the right people for jobs and putting square pegs in square holes! But it is not just that; Mr Paul Usoro also gives his team members the freedom and liberty to operate freely within the rules. This accords with Theodore Roosevelt advice, that “the best leader is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and the self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” As the Paul Usoro leadership continues in its giant strides towards repositioning the Nigerian Bar Association for a greater future, I heartily congratulate Mr Usoro on his successful hosting of the NEC meeting for March 2019. However, I once again urge Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN to Remain Focused and carrying along his team members and indeed everyone, in all his plans and programs.
Thank you & RemainFocused .