When Would the NBA Come Home to Begin to Fight for Its Members, as It Does Fight for Others?

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(Does NBA really understand the difference between an Annual Conference and a regular Seminar/Workshop/Talkshow?)

(by Udems)

Dear Benchers, silks, Profs seniors and colleagues, please I have a question.The SPIDEL Annual Conference 2021 has come and gone. Question bothering me are, what specific benefits has the conference brought towards improving or promoting the welfare, security and economic advancement of lawyers in Nigeria? How would the outcome of the conference positively impact the lives of lawyers in Nigeria? Of what benefits to the welfare of members of the NBA, are the topics discussed at the Conference? How for example has the presence of Bala Mohammed, Rochas Okorocha, Aisha Yesufu, Dino Melaye, Seyi Makinde, etc contributed to solving or will contribute to solving any one or more of the many challenges facing members of the NBA?

Recall that the NBA was set up primarily to:(1). Advance the interest of lawyers in Nigeria; (2). Create opportunities for lawyers to prosper; (3). Promote peace, unity and oneness among the various segments within the profession. (4). Redress any noticed injustice to any segments of the profession; (5) Assist in making legal education and law practice in NIGERIA better; (7) Guard jealously all jobs and rights exclusive to lawyers in Nigeria; (8). Make lawyers more relevant and useful to society; etc. Now, in what ways would the papers delivered and the talkshows witnessed at the Ibadan SPIDEL Conference 2021 help achieve any one of these and others objectives of the NBA?

Meanwhile, you are not unaware that (1). Majority of Nigerian Lawyers are jobless, and indeed feel frustrated, disenchanted and disappointed as a result. Meanwhile countless UNTAPPED/UNOPENED opportunities exist for employment for many lawyers in NIGERIA. Nigeria is the only country without legal Departments in LGA’S and without LAWYERS working as full-time Legal officers in the LGA’S. NIGERIA is the only country without legal sections or Legal Departments in its police departments and formations. Happily, section 66(3) NPFEA, 2020 has directed the mandatory posting of Lawyers as fulltime employees to all police Stations in the country. What is the NBA waiting for to liaise with relevant stakeholders to see that this beautiful mandate is implemented without any delays, with a view to creating job opportunities for lawyers in Nigeria as well as improving the human rights conditions and records of the various Police locations across the country in addition to decongesting our courts by controlling and minimizing the filing of frivolous criminal charges?? Why didn’t the SPIDEL CONFERENCE 2020 look at any of these? In Nigeria, over 90 percent of all the MDA’s (Ministries, Departments and Agencies) have no legal Departments and no lawyers in their employment as Legal officers. Over 60 percent of all high and higher schools in Nigeria have no Legal Departments and no lawyers in their employment as Legal officers. Beside these, many aspects of the traditional jobs of the Nigerian lawyers are being taken away (stolen) by intruding non lawyers and foreigners. Very soon, UNLESS something drastic is done to stop this ugly trend, lawyers in Nigeria may have only little or no jobs to call their own. Even Deeds, land agreements, tenancies are now drafted by non lawyers with impunity. Lest I forget, illiterate land agents charge and are paid much more than Lawyers are paid in conveyancing which is the lawyer’s traditional job Space.

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I had suggested and expected that the SPIDEL Conference should have been devoted to talking about one or more of the many problems that weigh the NBA and Nigerian lawyers down with a view to dispassionately discussing same in a manner that would bring about some positive results that would directly and positively affect members of the NBA. Same suggestions I had made (without success) in 2019 and in 2020.

In summary, what exactly is the benefit of the just concluded SPIDEL Conference to the Nigerian lawyer? Which of the countless problems facing the Nigerian lawyers did the SPIDEL CONFERENCE look at? Do we really understand the difference between an Annual General Conference of a professional ASSOCIATION and a mere seminar/webinar or worshop? I used to think that when an ASSOCIATION organizes a Conference for its members, it is devoted to looking at the various aspects of the internal affairs of the ASSOCIATION and the lives of its members with a view to looking at ways of finding solutions to the ASSOCIATION’s challenges and also discussing how to move the ASSOCIATION and its members forward. I thought that an annual general Conference is akin to an annual retreat where only issues directly affecting the organisization/ASSOCIATION and its members are focused on. Occasional webinars, seminars and workshops on the other hand may be devoted to discussing issues generally affecting society, in line with the objects of the affected ASSOCIATION. In the case of the NBA, all of its Conferences, webinars, seminars and workshops are organized and devoted almost entirely to discussing problems bedevilling other people, with no or little attention paid to the challenges directly facing the NBA and its members. Please, i pray, can the promising Akpata administration, in line with its campaign promises, try to do something different for the Nigerian lawyers and his profession. My own survey shows that majority of Nigerian lawyers are disappointed with SUCCESIVE NBA Leaderships, and are therefore disenchanted and rapidly loosing interest in the affairs of the NBA. Major reason: the NBA hardly cares about the internal challenges of its own members, but are more concerned about and fighting vigorously about the headaches of other people. Example: I commend NBA’s efforts towards ensuring financial Autonomy for the Judiciaries in NIGERIA; I commend the NBA for assisting JUSUN over 90 percent of whose members are not Lawyers. I support financial autonomy for the Judiciary. But, please, don’t you think that if the NBA should apply the same vigor and energy with which NBA fights for JUSUN, towards fighting to (1) create more opportunities for employment for the teeming population of unemployed/jobless lawyers in Nigeria, things would be better for the profession. If the NBA should devote half of such efforts to fighting off worsening encroachments and intrusions by non lawyers into the legal practice Space, lawyers wouldn’t remain the same in Nigeria. Think about this, especially about the difference between a Conference and a seminar or workshop. My friend says NBA Conferences are achieving their Objectives because NBA Conferences are”for networking and closing deals”. Okay, my answer is this: _”are we saying it is not possible to discuss these critical issues directly affecting the organisization and its members (issues that promote our own welfare) and still do the (1). networking, (2). Closing of deals, (3) etc…? Please note that I am not against conferences. I am a lover of conferences. All I am suggesting is that topics discussed at these conferences ought to focus primarily on issues directly affecting the NBA and its members”. Do not forget, the NBA was set up primarily to make lawyers better. When would the NBA come home to start fighting for its members, as the NBA usually fights for other people–non lawyers? When?

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I remain yours faithfully,
SYLVESTER UDEMEZUE
(Udems)
(28/May/2021)

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