The 2024 Annual General Conference (AGC) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) will hold between August 23 and 28 at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos, CITY LAWYER can report.

Originally called “Race Course” because it was initially used as a horse racing ground, the Tafawa Balewa Square is a rectangular 3.9615 hectares ceremonial ground. It is constructed of mass concrete with 6 entrance gates into the parade ground. 

TBS also has a pavilion with a sitting capacity of 55,000.00 people and a multi-purpose hall with a floor space of 1,289.61 square metres. It also has a school building with floor space of  220 square metres. The once iconic facility was concessioned to Build Hope Services International Limited (BHS) “to efficiently maintain the Tafawa Balewa Square Complex for 30 years and provide additional facilities that will improve the use of the complex for the benefit of the general public.”

There are however strong indications that this dream has not been realised, as the facility has not attained the world-class status anticipated prior to the concession.

In a March 2023 investigative report, THE PUCH reported that “Tafawa Balewa Square, the once beautiful pride of Nigeria, is a shadow of its former self,” adding that “Nigeria’s independence monument has failed to fulfill its world-class tourist site potential.”

Continuing, the newspaper states that “Although it remains distinctive, Tafawa Balewa Square, which is located at 45/57 Massey Bamgboshe Street on Lagos Island, Lagos has become a shadow of itself. The sight of hawkers, hooligans, food vendors, watch repairers, itinerant cobblers, and commercial tricycle riders taking over the entrance of this monument has overwhelmed its splendour.

“The walls devoid of paint, the concrete buildings attempting to hide protruding irons, and deteriorated gates which have been replaced with iron bars paint a picture of the current despicable state of Tafawa Balewa Square.”

It is however not all sad tales about the AGC venue, as the report notes that “Despite the dilapidated state of the square, the square occasionally hosts large public events and gatherings such as political rallies and church programmes. Notable among them is the Experience, a gospel musical concert organised annually by the House on The Rock Church on the first Friday in December.”

While the forthcoming AGC has been overshadowed by the controversy over high fees especially for young lawyers, with NBA Ikeja and Warri branches vowing to boycott the event due to the controversial fees, CITY LAWYER observes that, aside from massive traffic gridlock, perhaps the biggest challenge for the AGC Planning Committee (AGCPC) is how to ward of the itinerant and die-hard miscreants that dot the TBS axis.

This is moreso as the TBS is in central Lagos where the miscreants have easy access, unlike the more detached and exclusive Victoria Island neighbourhood where the 2022 Annual Conference was held.

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