Every two years, Nigerian Lawyers go to polls to pick their national officers; and this year, 2024, is an election year for the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). For this year’s election, three candidates are vying for the position of President of NBA; Mazi Afam Osigwe, SAN; Chukwuka Ikwuazom, SAN and Tobenna Erojikwe. As the three Candidates lock horns for the contest which will be held electronically and by universal suffrage next month, as usual, Onikepo Braithwaite and Jude Igbanoi fielded questions for each of the Candidates, to know more about them and how they’ll run the NBA, if Nigerian Lawyers entrust them with the mandate

1) Kindly, tell us briefly about your career as a practitioner, what roles you may have played in the NBA in the past, and what support you have given to our Association

2) Why should Nigerian Lawyers entrust you with running the affairs of the Association for the next two years? What have you done to secure their confidence in you, enough to cast their votes for you?

3) What would you say is the edge you have over your other contenders for the office of NBA President? What are the main points of your campaign? And, how do you intend to fulfil your promises in your two-year tenure?

4) The Nigerian Bar Association has in the past years been called to question by Nigerian Lawyers, over its handling of national issues and the loss of its voice when it matters most. How do you intend to return the NBA to its place of relevance and glorious days of Presidents like Alao Aka-Bashorun?

5) There has mostly been a no-love-lost relationship between NBA Presidents and General Secretaries. How will you ensure this doesn’t happen in your tenure as President, if and when you win?

6) new Remuneration Order 23 has excited Nigerian Lawyers. How will you ensure that Lawyers are well remunerated when you become NBA President, particularly the young Lawyers who are poorly paid by Seniors?

7) Many Lawyers have been brought before the Disciplinary Committee, including very senior Lawyers, and most of them seem to either get away with their wrongdoing or get off lightly. How will you handle the menace of Lawyers engaging in abuse of court processes like forum shopping, filing matters in courts that don’t have jurisdiction etc?

8) Encroachment on the legal profession by other professionals is a huge threat that the NBA hasn’t been able to exterminate over the years. Lawyers continue to lose revenue to Accountants, Surveyors and others. What is the way out? What about the influx of foreign Lawyers into our jurisdiction, which is on the rise? How will you handle this if elected?

9) level of confidence do you have in the ECNBA to deliver a credible, free and fair election, that will usher you into office?

Mazi Afam Osigwe, SAN

1) I started my legal practice during my compulsory National Youth Service with Chike Chigbue & Co. in their Abuja Office in 1999. In 2002, I founded the Law Forte (Legal Practitioners, Corporate Consultants, and Notary Public) in Abuja, where I currently serve as the Senior Partner. In 2006, I became a Notary Public of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. I have expertise in legal advisory, banking law, corporate law, arbitration, property law, civil litigation, and commercial practice, among other relevant fields.

As a member of the NBA Abuja Branch, I have had the privilege of serving in various roles at the chapter, State, and national levels of the NBA. I served as the Publicity Secretary between 2006-08 at NBA Abuja, and then served as Chairman of the Branch in 2010-12. I have served in various committees, always ensuring diligence and the overall delivery of optimum results.

As Chairman of NBA Abuja, the Unity Bar FC (the football club of the NBA Abuja Branch), was transformed into a laurel-winning team. I love sports and encourage the development of skills, while fostering unity and comradeship. I also am an ardent mentor to young Lawyers, contributing to the growth of the Bar. I contributed to the continuing professional development CPD, by writing papers and journals on viewpoints and various subjects that relate to the advancement of the legal profession.

I served as General Secretary of the NBA (2014-2016). I was also a member of the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria (2014-2016). I was a member of The Council of Legal Education (2015-18), a member General Council of the Bar (2015-2022), and I am a Life Bencher (Life Member of the Body of Benchers of Nigeria). I was a prosecutor at the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee of the Body of Benchers from 2012-2014, until I was elected the General Secretary of the NBA. I am currently the Chairman of the NBA National Remuneration Committee, where we are creating a policy to ensure the better welfare of Lawyers, by ensuring we are remunerated correctly for the services we offer.

2) I believe Nigerian Lawyers can confidently entrust me with the running of the Affairs of the NBA. I am a dedicated and pragmatic leader, which can be seen through the diligent work which I have done in the different roles I have played over the years. I believe that active participation and leadership, are the keys to driving meaningful change within any organisation. Rather than merely voicing dissatisfaction or proposing improvements from the sidelines, I am committed to offering my services to enact the positive changes and leadership our Association needs.

As NBA President, my key priorities will be multifaceted, addressing both immediate concerns and long-term strategic goals. In the short term, I will focus on enhancing access to justice, promoting professional development opportunities, and fostering a culture of inclusivity within the Association. In the medium term, my goals include strengthening the rule of law, advocating for legislative reforms, and addressing systemic challenges facing the legal profession. Ultimately, my long-term vision is to position the NBA as a proactive force for positive change in Nigerian society, championing justice, equality, and the rule of law.

They should entrust me to raise an NBA that provides a professional and inclusive platform where every Lawyer, regardless of experience level, can contribute meaningfully. That has been my leadership over the years. My focus will be on delivering tangible benefits to our members, fostering professional development, and creating a wealth of opportunities for all. Moreover, I am committed to ensuring the NBA operates with transparency and accountability, in the management of its resources. I am confident that I can enhance the public perception of our Association, improve member benefits, and create an inclusive environment where all members – regardless of age, gender, political affiliation, or religious belief – can actively participate in governance. My vision is for the NBA to reclaim its rightful place, as a leading professional body in Nigeria.

I am particularly committed to ensuring that all members – especially those who are disabled, vulnerable, female, aged, and young – receive the full benefits of their membership. Additionally, I aim to strengthen and unify the Bar. My tenure as Chairman and General Secretary, provided me with valuable insights into the complexities of managing a diverse and dynamic organisation like the NBA. I learned the critical importance of fostering unity, addressing member concerns, and advocating for the integrity of our profession. These experiences have equipped me with the skills and perspectives, necessary to navigate the challenges and maximise the opportunities of the NBA Presidency.

I want to be part of NBA that’s engaging and achieving practical results, without spending so much money organising conferences all the time and achieving nothing in the lives of members. The NBA was at one time focused on the delivery of services; it was known for action, not words. The NBA must get out of hotel rooms and conferences, and impact positively in the lives of Lawyers.

3) I would say my edge over the other candidates, is my years (experience) built over time from the various roles I have played in the Association. With due respect to other contestants, I have been involved in several policies and activities to move the Bar forward. I am driven by a deep belief in the crucial role our Association plays in upholding the rule of law, and advancing the welfare of all Lawyers. My candidacy is distinguished by a commitment to transparency, inclusivity, and effective leadership. My vision is to proactively identify problems, anticipate challenges, and deliver solutions that create a wealth of opportunities and benefits for every Lawyer. My mission is to improve the standing of the Association, by proactively addressing issues that impact our members. This involves promoting the welfare and working environment of Lawyers, and ensuring that all members – particularly female, senior, and young Lawyers – reap the full benefits of their Association membership. By focusing on these goals, I aim to foster a more supportive and dynamic professional community.

The main points of my campaign are to enhance members’ welfare and development through: the promotion and protection of the interest of Lawyers. We shall create an Endowment Fund for legal education, and ensure the protection of the legal industry in Nigeria by ensuring non-Lawyers and foreigners do not carry out legal services reserved for our Lawyers. We shall also ensure the protection, security and dignity of members.

I will strengthen the Human Rights Committee of NBA by establishing a Human Rights Attorney Support Network, by Reinvigorating Public Confidence in the NBA and strengthening Institutional Structures and Efficiency.

4) I intend to reinvigorate public confidence in the NBA and indeed, return her to her glory days or might I say more glorious days, as the glory of the new should surpass the former. I will structure a more effective and proactive response, to human rights initiatives and public advocacy. I intend to set up a standing Litigation Committee that will institute actions in respect of alleged human rights violations, as well as other matters of public interest to the legal profession. This Committee will also work with the human rights committee of Branches to render pro bono services to deserving members of the public, and also take requisite legal action where Lawyers have been assaulted, harassed, or prevented from carrying out their lawful duties.

The NBA, being a strategic Association in the polity, must play the role of a watchdog. I will therefore, ensure we watch events in the polity, comment critically on same, proffer advice/solutions, and also render legal services and assistance where necessary. The NBA under my watch, shall consistently speak up on issues affecting the legal profession and administration of justice, constructively engage with the various tiers of government and other stakeholders, and present proposals and blueprints for dealing with such issues. We will shape opinions and influence decisions that will improve the administration of justice, reform the Judiciary, and engender due process of law and the fortunes of our society. NBA under my watch, will not be found wanting in this regard. We will live up to the billings. We will ensure the NBA maintains its leading role in matters of National Public Interest, as well as engage in ‘Rule of Law’ advocacy. Many feel that the NBA is unresponsive to their needs, particularly when they encounter challenges while serving their clients. Additionally, there is a perception that the NBA fails to voice its stance during critical national moments. My goal is to address these concerns by ensuring that the NBA becomes more engaged, supportive, and vocal. I am committed to leading an NBA that not only listens to its members, but also advocates for them effectively.

5) In my tenure as General-Secretary, I had a thriving work relationship with the then President of the Association, Augustine Alegeh, SAN, which has continued even after our tenure in office. We routinely have retreats and hangouts for the entire team I served with even during the NBA conferences, which fosters fellowship. When I was Chairman, I ensured a harmonious relationship with my excos, and ensured teamwork was the order of the day. My relationship with my excos, has continued till today.

Naturally, conflicts can arise from human relations, but, they need to be avoided and managed with understanding and maturity at all times. When conflicts occur, it is necessary that they are managed in such a way that they do not embarrass the Bar. Matters should be handled internally, with professionalism. I will imbibe adequate team spirit and a good leadership style, that ensures every member of the NBA leadership team and the entire Bar works harmoniously. Everyone has something to contribute, to the proactive Bar. I encourage ideas, contributions, and even criticism

6) It should be noted that the Legal Practitioners (Remuneration for Business, Legal Services and Representation) Order, 2023 which was made by the Legal Practitioners Remuneration Committee (the Committee) and signed into law on May 16, 2023 in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 15(3) of the Legal Practitioners Act, does not extend to fixing or prescribing minimum salary or remuneration to be paid to young Lawyers employed in private legal practice or some other form of employment. It is therefore, a misconception to say that it is expected to address the “poor remuneration” of Lawyers.

The responsibilities of the Remuneration Committee of the Bar (NBA) are (1) receiving and considering application for an approval or refusal from a legal practitioner who intends to charge or agree to any remuneration for any business or service which is lower than the amount specified for any of the businesses or services in Scales 1- 5, in the Schedule to the Order; (2) receiving a report from a person who has knowledge that a legal practitioner has charged or agreed to a remuneration in contravention of the provisions of the Order, investigating the infraction and upon a prima facie case being made, reporting the erring legal practitioner to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee; and (3) receiving an affidavit from any legal practitioner who in consideration of his/her relationship with his/her client by consanguinity or affinity, charged no fees for legal services provided to the client an affidavit disclosing the facts and circumstances justifying rendering gratuitous service to such client.

As can be seen from the above, the functions of the Remuneration Committee do not extend to fixing or prescribing minimum salary or remuneration to be paid to young Lawyers employed in private legal practice or some other form of employment. Sadly, the NBA and the Legal Practitioners Remuneration Committee do not have any power whatsoever, to fix the minimum wage for Lawyers. The National Assembly has the power as prescribed in its exclusive power, to make laws for minimum wage in the Minimum Wage Act (Item 34 of the Exclusive Legislative List). As President, I will prescribe to the National Exclusive Council of the NBA to issue a directory to Lawyers and NBA Branches, to stipulate a minimum wage to be paid to Lawyers in private practice.

7) The Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC), is in charge of the discipline of Lawyers. I will ensure that the Committee carries out its functions effectively and efficiently, to bring to book those who are in default or in the wrong. The importance of discipline cannot be overemphasised, as it protects the nobility of the legal profession. I will advocate for the amendment of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee Rules 2020, to fully restore the role and power of the NBA in the investigation of complaints of professional misconduct against legal practitioners.

I will establish disciplinary committees across all Branches, to monitor the compliance of Lawyers with the dress code, conduct, and activities in courts. Prioritise disciplinary proceedings, to ensure that petitions against Lawyers are expeditiously determined. Pursue an aggressive awareness campaign, to draw attention and remind members of compliance and infraction issues. Enhance self-regulation of Lawyers by the NBA, as part of her disciplinary mechanism.

8) I will utilise litigation and advocacy to ensure that non-legal practitioners are precluded from the legal services industry. I will protect the legal industry in Nigeria from the influx of foreign law firms and practices by non-law firms. Commence disciplinary actions against Lawyers who advance such. It is in violation of the laws. It’s not proper for them to take jobs, meant for Nigerian Lawyers.

9) I have a laudable level of confidence, in the ECNBA. To the best of my knowledge, the ECNBA will not fail to deliver a free and fair election. The men and women who make it up are people of integrity, and I have no doubt they will live up to the expectations placed on them to ensure an impartial election.

The integrity of the ECNBA ensures a just and unbiased election, as has been tested and is trusted to deliver the will of the Lawyers who have voted over the years. As such, I have complete trust in the system, I have complete trust in the ECNBA.

Thank you Learned Silk. Best of luck in the election.

Chukwuka Ikwuazom, SAN

1) I received my LLB degree from the University of Nigeria in 2000, and was admitted to the Nigerian Bar in 2002. I gained admission to Columbia University, New York, where I earned an LLM in 2009. Notably, I was honoured with the Harlan Foske Stone Prize for academic excellence and awarded the Judith R. and Michael E. Thoyer scholarship at Columbia University.

Admitted to both the Nigerian and New York State Bars, my expertise spans diverse practice areas. I have litigated landmark cases and advised on complex commercial transactions. I am a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria.

I am a Partner at Aluko & Oyebode, where I lead the Taxation Practice. In 2020, I was elevated to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

I have actively served the NBA in diverse roles. As a member of the NBA Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL), I served as Vice-Chairman of its Employment and Industrial Relations Committee for two terms. I was a member of the Technical Committee on Conference Planning for the NBA Annual General Conferences in 2019 and 2020 and the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee for the 2019 Conference.

In 2017, I was elected Chairman of the NBA Lagos Branch. As Chairman, I pioneered several transformative policies and practices that redefined leadership at the Branch. I initiated knowledge-sharing sessions at Branch meetings, introduced individual and group mentorship programmes for young Lawyers, reconstituted the Branch’s Continuing Legal Education Committee and provided leadership and direction for the Committee to deliver free and regular professional training and seminars to members. My administration institutionalised financial accountability and transparency by providing detailed, easily understandable, and scrutable monthly financial reports to members. Under my Chairmanship, the Judiciary Relations Committee of the Branch collaborated with the Commercial Disputes Legal Network to produce the Administration of Civil Justice Bill, a transformative Bill that will significantly address the challenges with administration of justice in Nigeria. This Bill has been enacted into law, by Ekiti and Delta State.

My administration commenced the construction of a befitting Bar Centre for the Lagos Branch, and left a significant amount in the Bar Centre account. Currently, I serve as the Chairman of the Building Committee of the Lagos Branch.

I served as a member of the National Executive Council of the NBA for an unbroken period of 4 years (2017 to 2021) and was reappointed in 2022 for a two-year term. I currently chair the NBA Security Agencies Relations Committee (NBA-SARC).

In recognition of my notable contributions to the Bar, I was honoured with a distinguished service award by the NBA Lagos Branch during its 2023 Annual Dinner and Awards Night.

2) I have the relevant experience to lead the NBA, having chaired its largest Branch with distinction, having been a member of the National Executive Committee for more than 5 years, and having held high office in one of the most vibrant Sections of the NBA (the NBA-SBL). The transformative policies and practices pioneered by my administration in the Lagos Branch, have been adopted by other Branches, and even at the national level.

As a partner in Aluko & Oyebode since 2011, I have been part of the leadership group of one of Nigeria’s most successful law firms for 13 years, and learned useful lessons in leadership that I will deploy as President of the NBA. My membership of the New York State Bar, has also exposed me to how an association of Lawyers can be run effectively and efficiently.

I have the right values, competence and vision to lead the NBA, at this critical period of our journey. As Chairman of the NBA-SARC, I have demonstrated that I can speak truth to power, and that the NBA under me will fulfil its mandate of upholding the rule of law.

3) All three of us running for President, are good. However, I believe that I stand out from the other candidates. First, and with every sense of humility, of the other two candidates, one has never chaired a Branch, section or forum in the NBA, and although the other candidate has, he does not have the track record of excellent performance that I have. Secondly, I am the only candidate whose practice spans both corporate commercial work and litigation, and this puts me in a position to understand and proffer solutions to the challenges faced by both parts of the profession. Thirdly, neither of the other two candidates has my experience, being a part of the leadership team of a large commercial firm.

In my manifesto, I have listed several issues I intend to deal with as NBA President, but, the three things I will focus on primarily are: justice sector reform, regulation of the profession and welfare of the legal profession. Regarding justice sector reform, I will, among other things, push for the enactment of the Administration of Civil Justice Bill, ensure that we send our best to represent us in institutions such as the NJC and FJSC, institute a nationwide court monitoring system, push for statutory and constitutional reforms to eliminate undue delays in our justice delivery.

As it concerns the regulation of the legal profession, I will push for the enactment of the Legal Profession Regulation Bill. I believe that the proposals contained in that Bill, will go a long way in addressing the many regulatory challenges we face in the legal profession. Finally, to improve the welfare of the legal profession, I will devise innovative ways to enforce the Remuneration Order, 2023.

4) As NBA President, my approach will be both decisive and fearless in defending the rule of law and protecting human rights. The current state of impunity and undermining of the rule of law by security agencies and public office holders in Nigeria, calls for a resolute and fearless NBA.

Under my leadership, the NBA will prioritise the defence of the rule of law and the protection of the rights of members of the Bar, the Bench, and the public.

In my role as Chairman of the NBA-SARC, I have consistently spoken out against the wrongful conduct of security agencies.

5) One of the most important qualities I have imbibed working at Aluko & Oyebode for about 22 years, is the ability to work in a team and value the contributions of every member of the team. In our firm, the ability to work well as a member of a team, is a key performance indicator.

Throughout my time as Chairman of the Lagos Branch, disagreements among members of the Exco were swiftly resolved, and never made it to the public. As President, I will accord respect to every member of the National Executive Committee, and allow them to carry out their constitutional responsibilities.

6) As partners and leaders in our respective law firms, the three candidates in this election have had opportunity to implement the spirit of the Order in our firms. Any leader who fails to provide a decent wage to his employees, lacks the moral authority to enforce the standards under the Order. Young Lawyers know which firm among those of the candidates, offers the most competitive wages and benefits.

Under the Rules of Professional Conduct, 2023, non-compliance with the scale of charges prescribed under the Order is professional misconduct. The NBA under my watch, will strongly advocate for compliance with the scale of charges. We will put structures in place to ensure prompt reporting, swift prosecution of defaulters and devise innovative ways of enforcing the scale of charges.

7) As President, I will push for the overhauling of the disciplinary processes in the profession, in line with the proposals contained in the Legal Profession Regulation Bill. The current centralisation of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee and the undue delay in concluding disciplinary proceedings, do not promote discipline.

The NBA under my watch will put in place mechanisms that ensure that professional misconduct is promptly punished, regardless of the stature of the offender.

8) The Legal Practitioners’ Act and the Rules of Professional Conduct, make clear provisions on who can practice law in Nigeria. The NBA under my leadership, will jealously guard the right to practice law in Nigeria, which is the exclusive preserve of Nigerian Lawyers. We will set up monitoring teams across the country, and ensure that the full weight of the law is brought upon offenders.

9) I have great confidence, in the integrity of the Chairman and members of the ECNBA. I also trust that the President of the NBA, is determined to give us a credible election. However, given that technology is not failproof, we must all continue to pay close attention to, monitor and interrogate, the process.

Thank you, Learned Silk. Best of luck in the election.

Tobenna Erojikwe

1) My name is Tobenna Erojikwe. I was called to the Nigerian Bar in year 2000. Immediately after my call to Bar, I started my law practice career as an Associate at The Law Crest LLP. I practiced as a litigator and as a transaction Lawyer for a number of years before heading out to England, where I qualified as a Solicitor of the Superior Courts of England and Wales. Over a 10 year practice period in England, I worked in the private and public sector, specialising in Urban Regeneration Financing and Major Infrastructure Projects Advisory. I worked on many ground breaking transactions, and had the privilege of advising on some of the most notable urban regeneration projects in Europe. I returned to Nigeria in 2014 and have been a senior partner at the Law Crest LLP since then, working mostly now on energy related transactions.

I am a member of NBA Lagos Branch. I was co-opted as a member of the Exco of the Branch for 4 years, over two consecutive administrations. During that period, I also served as Chairman of the Branch’s Continuing Legal Education Committee. I am a member of the Section on Business Law (SBL) and have played roles in the Section, including being a member of the Task Force on the Enforcement of the Local Content Act.

At the National level of the NBA, I served as a member of the Finance Committee, General Purposes Committee and member of the Legal Education Committee. I was Chairman of the Technical Committee on Conference Planning for the NBA Annual General Conference in 2022. In 2022, I was appointed to represent the NBA at the National Judicial Council for a period of 2 years. I was the Chair of the Policy Formulation and Project Implementation Team during the Olumide Akpata administration of the NBA.

I am currently the Chairman of the NBA Institute of Continuing Legal Education.

2) In the time that I have been involved in the NBA, I have had the privilege of being appointed to significant roles in the Association. I have discharged my responsibilities to the very best of my abilities. At the Branch level, I lead a team that transformed the Continuing Legal Education design of the Branch, and laid a solid foundation over a period of 4 years for sustainability and progress. As Chairman of the Board of the NBA Institute of Continuing Legal Education, I have also led a team that has transformed that Institute from a previously moribund organ of the NBA to perhaps, the most effective organ. Over 200 world class trainings, a 700 man Mentoring Scheme, a Virtual Library, strategic partnerships with notable local and international organisations including Universities and law firms and more, stand to the credit of that Institute.

In my time in the NBA, I have shown a capacity to provide leadership and to develop creative and innovative ways of solving problems. In my role as Chair of policy formulation and project implementation during the Akpata administration, I demonstrated leadership in the development of workable ideas and implementation of complex initiatives. I have worked across two jurisdictions as a litigator and transaction Lawyer, in private practice and the public sector. I have over the years, garnered extensive experience and exposure which I consider crucial for the type of NBA that we intend to build. In the course of my career, I have through training and work experience, garnered extensive administrative and management experience which should serve me well if elected President of the NBA.

3) I will be running on my record of service to the Association, and the ascertainable value that I have led various teams at various levels in the NBA to achieve. I think that the work that I have done and continue to do in the NBA, gives the electorate great insights to my character, philosophy and ideology. For instance, the way and manner that I have run the Institute, illustrates my belief in investing in people and promotion of social mobility.

There are 3 main thrusts of my aspiration, and they are as follows: (a)To restore the Dignity of the Bar and reactivate its voice as a promoter of the Rule of Law – this would include a proactive approach to matters that relate to the Independence of the Bar, Independence of the Judiciary and Protection of Human Rights of citizens; (b) The restructuring of the the governance and administrative framework of the profession; and (c) Empowerment of members of the Bar through creating platforms of upliftment. The breakdown of the plans for my administration, are contained in my manifesto.

What I have found in the NBA, is that we spend an inordinate amount of time discussing things that we had discussed before. So, I will seek to implement resolutions of the NBA that had been previously passed, but not implemented. We will start immediately to implement the Access to Finance Scheme, Court Monitoring Scheme, Secretariat Reform, pursuing legislative advocacy for the passing of the Legal Education Bill, etc. We already have NEC approval to implement these schemes, so, implementation will start immediately and be completed within 9 months of the administration.

4) Nigeria needs credible men and strong institutions to play their role in its affairs, if it is going to achieve sustainable and positive growth. My antecedents clearly attest to the fact that I have always expressed my views on matters of national importance, and will not be afraid to speak the truth as the need and occasion requires.

5) Every member of the National Executive Committee of the NBA is elected independently, so, each would have an idea of how they think that the Association should be run, but, the buck stops with the President who has the responsibility to provide leadership and direction for the Association. If elected President , I will set out a clear vision of leadership and will ensure that positive ideas from the Manifesto of other officers are included in the administration’s implementation roadmap. My focus will be on delivering value to the Association, and I will apply the leadership and management skills that I have acquired over the years to my Presidency of the Bar.

6) As you may be aware, in my role as the Chair of the Policy Formulation and Project Implementation Team during the Akpata administration, I played a major role in developing the terms of reference for the Remuneration Committee. The NBA spent two years developing the policies regarding remuneration including elements that had to do with a minimum wage scale. In the short term, we will immediately start implementing the aspects of the White paper on Remuneration which have not yet been implemented. We will also immediately start pushing for the harmonised version of the Legal Practitioners Bill, to be passed. The Bill contains proposals on far reaching structural changes, that would deal with most of the issues mentioned.

Most importantly, we will be deliberate in investing human and material resources on capacity building, whilst seeking to expand the legal practice market by insisting on the full implementation of the LPA and the Local Content Act. We need to check the excesses of government officials who breach these rules, and fight to see that all earning opportunities for Lawyers are protected and properly ring fenced.

7) I will lead from the front on all matters that concern the Bar, and the ethical conduct of members. We have paid very scant attention to ethical standards and consequence management for bad conduct. I think it critical that we understand that, trust is an important aspect of our craft. We should do all within our power to ensure that we enjoy the confidence of the public, by having a disciplinary framework and an enforcement mechanism that instils confidence in members of the profession and the public. For the NBA to compete in an increasingly globalised world, the profession and its members must pay keen attention to the enforcement of ethical standards. Unfortunately, the role of the NBA in the disciplinary process is almost non-existent. The NBA under my watch, will discuss the introduction of a more effective and efficient disciplinary system with the CJN and BOB, and seek to establish a decentralised system for determining culpability and enforcement of same. In the meantime, wherever the NBA finds credible information about infractions such as forum shopping, such matters will be reported to the LPDC by the NBA

8) It is difficult to consider issues in isolation, so, in the long term, we must have the harmonised version of the Legal Profession which contains draft provisions on post-education qualification training regime including pupillage and mandatory continuing legal education. I make this point because efficient service delivery, is key to survival in the legal industry space. We must therefore, invest in career development so our that practices have the capacity to deliver services efficiently.

9) The Chairman of the ECNBA is a distinguished colleague, and has conducted himself very professionally throughout the process so far. My main concern, which I have written to the ECNBA about, is that the ECNBA hasn’t followed the process set out in the NBA Constitution. Following the provisions of the NBA Constitution, gives confidence to the system.

Thank you. Best of luck in the election.

  • Culled from THISDAY LAWYER

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