The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Annual General Conference (AGC), which commenced in Abuja on Sunday, is coming on the heels of a number of controversies that have trailed the association in recent weeks.
The programme, which will hold August 26-30 in Abuja, will have as its theme: ‘Transition, Transformation and Sustainable Institutions’ with Ghana’s President, Akufo-Addo as keynote speaker.
Among the controversial issues is the ratification of the just-concluded NBA national elections by the National Executive Committee (NEC) .
The other candidates in the election that produced Paul Usoro (SAN) as the new President of the NBA, were Prof Ernest Ojukwu (SAN) and Arthur Obi-Okafor (SAN) have both criticized the election.
There are also rumblings over moves to amend the NBA constitution during the AGM. Lawyers claim the newly elected executive will be used to implement the new constitution.
Former General Secretary of the NBA, Femi Adesina (SAN) and former NBA President, Wole Olanipekun (SAN) among others have kicked against the constitution amendment by the Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) outgoing executive especially in the area of succession of the governing board of the association.
“I was the General Secretary of our great Association between August 2002 and August 2004 and a life member of the National Executive Committee, yet I never received the Notice of the proposed Amendment to the Constitution from the General Secretary of the Bar up to the date of writing this publication,” Adesina said.
Olanipekun said the amendment is coming despite advice by former presidents and secretaries of the association to postpone such amendment to a later date.
“You are advised not to force the amendments on our beloved Association at the AGM, which, with much respect, might be constituted in such a way that the attendees would not readily understand or appreciate the unending conundrum we will be plunged into if the amendments sail through. And in case you insist on going ahead to present the amendments at the AGM, can you be gracious enough, as a lawyer and leader, to circulate this letter of mine to the AGM,” he said.
Also, many lawyers have complained that the conference bags for this year’s conference is not with the tablets as contained in the previous edition despite the spending of N750 million to organize the conference and the retention of the fees like the previous year.
The 58th conference will have five sub-themes which include Political Transition and Governance; Rule of Law & Security; Sustainable Economic Development; Technological Disruptions; and Diversity and Inclusion.
The stakeholders will examine the theme of ensuring peaceful and successful transitions, drawing references from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe.
The NBA AGC will be held in partnership with the British-Nigeria Law Forum (BNLF), the Bar Council of England and Wales, the American Bar Association (ABA) and other bar associations from across the continent and they have offered to provide technical support to the conference planning.
About 10, 000 lawyers, the biggest gathering in Africa, are expected to attend the conference in Abuja.
Besides, the keynote address by the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, there will be a conversation with President Muhammadu Buhari, and an address by a former Head of State of Nigeria, General Abdusalami Abubakar (Rtd), who is generally acclaimed to have overseen one of the most peaceful transitions of power from military to civilian authorities.
The conference will also feature high level panel discussions by renowned global and industry leaders in various fields as well as a complement of young minds who will be making robust contributions to nation-building from their perspectives.