BY EMEKA NWADIOKE
Young lawyers have expressed disappointment on delays that have enveloped the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Palliatives Scheme. The lawyers yesterday tackled NBA National Officers on the issue on the association’s official WhatsApp platform, “BAR CENTRE 4.”
Opening the barrage of complaints, one Victor Eze wrote on the platform: “Victor Eze from Yola Branch. Please when will they give us the NBA National palliative?” This was the tonic other young lawyers engage in another heated and prolonged debate on the palliatives debacle.
Following up on Eze’s poser, one Muhammad Raji Yabaji said: “I like the question, after receiving our particulars nothing we heard from them.”
Apparently disappointed by turn of events, one Count Vladislaus, switching between formal and Broken English, said: “Broda nor just put mind. NBA National may not give any palliative. You see the way this country goes… They wait for an event to cover up an event, all they just do is just postpone and postpone till we all forget, soon it’ll be December and the NBA National will start dropping guidelines for payment of the 2021 BPF.
“50 naira wen tear nobody see, money wen people pay for BPF will not be talked about, na how to collect 2021 own go dey National minds. Worst part is that we go still rush go pay before 31st March and I am bold to say nothing, absolutely nothing will happen because NBA national will sweep it all under the rug, life will go on as usual. Kobo as palliative none of us go see. Mark my words.
“If they like after this they may send me out of this group and any NBA group, it just shows that what I am saying is the truth. And yes; truth be told we all are aware of the politics up there in the National. Left for a ton of young lawyers in the country they would not pay dime to NBA National, because the words, ‘WHAT HAS NBA DONE FOR ME’ is (sic) on the lips of thousands of young lawyers out there. Let us not deny it.”
I believe the delay in disbursement is becoming unduly protracted for our comfort. Yes, the President has spoken on it about two times now providing assurance that the funds are there. But it may be better to tell us why the wait is this prolonged instead of the silence which has capacity to breed rumors. We are entitled to know what is happening.
On Vladislaus’s fears that he may be sanctioned by the platform administrators for his views, one Damilare Ojo assured him otherwise, saying: “The fact is you have made your point. We are all AGITATED!”
On her part, Precious Nwadimuya said: “So we don’t waste the opportunity to get an answer, I will ask the question on our behalf. @Habeeb Lawal @ PRO NBA Asaba @Kunle Edun, What is happening to the monies raised by our learned seniors in the profession meant to provide palliative for lawyers who submitted their particulars? I believe the delay in disbursement is becoming unduly protracted for our comfort. Yes, the President has spoken on it about two times now providing assurance that the funds are there. But it may be better to tell us why the wait is this prolonged instead of the silence which has capacity to breed rumors. We are entitled to know what is happening. Publicity team, if it means going to (Dr. Wale) Babalakin to know what is happening, please go and bring word for us and bring the money on your way coming, that would be better.”
Particularly worried that the tenure of the current NBA Administration is coming to an end, Vladislaus said: “August is fast approaching, the NBA executives will hand over. Nothing, absolutely nothing will happen. We all will pay BPF again in 2021 and nothing will happen. I challenge the NBA to prove me wrong. This is Nigeria, I hope the NBA proves me wrong in everything. I will be glad they did.”
Trying to assuage the persistent complaints, NBA Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kunle Edun: “Your concerns are valid. I can assure you that the issue you raised has been taken up with the Committee. We should be expecting a positive response soon. I appreciate all the patience. Thanks.”
In an earlier intervention when the debate arose on the platform, Count Vladislaus said: “Just wait, by August they will give a report on how they spent billions on palliatives.”
As one Ezenwa Okoli warned that “You can now be sued for allegations of this nature. Let’s watch it pls,” Vladislaus retorted: “Because we are speaking about our pains, they want to silence us like the FG did Sowere, 2Face and others.”
On his part, Rabiu Ibrahim said: “We are all speaking our minds as lawyers, this is an avenue where young lawyers should know that NBA are in existence. It is when something’s happened that another thing happened. We are not trying to put an accusing finger on anybody. If lawyers that are 10 years at the bar will complain, then I wonder what other lawyers will say.”
This again led Edun to wade in to douse the face-off, saying: “Gentlemen, pls while we exercise our right to freedom of speech, let us show mutual respect to each other and be civil. Thanks.”
It is recalled that NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN had in a Press Statement late May said that “the NBA COVID-19 Relief Fund Account had a credit balance of N84,223,000.00 donated almost entirely by our distinguished colleagues.” CITY LAWYER gathered that the current balance may be in excess of N90 million.
Usoro added that “The Welfare Committee was saddled with a second significant assignment upon its constitution, to wit, ‘work with me in designing the most equitable and integrity-proof model for identifying the genuinely needy beneficiaries of the relief materials. Part of the Committee’s responsibility would also be to determine the form that the reliefs should take e.g. cash or kind (illustratively, food items and the like) or a combination of the two or any other form.’
“That part of the assignment remains outstanding. I have been assured by the Committee that their focus has so far been on ‘baking the cake’, in a manner of speaking, and that they would shortly proceed to and with that follow-through assignment of distributing the funds to the truly needy members of our Association. I would work with them in that regard and would keep our members fully informed and updated.”
The NBA Welfare Committee is headed by top corporate lawyer, Babalakin. Other members are Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), Vice Chairman; Miannaya Essien (SAN), Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), Solomon Umoh (SAN), Dr. Garba Tertengi (SAN), Mrs. Victoria Awomolo (SAN) and Sylva Ogwemoh (SAN).
Also appointed as members of the committee are Ibrahim Muhammed (SAN), Emeka Etiaba (SAN), Mba Ukweni (SAN), Steven Adehi (SAN), Olabode Olanipekun (SAN), Tuduru Ede (SAN), Theophilus Igba (3rd Vice President), Emeka Anosike (National Financial Secretary), Joshua Usman (National Welfare Secretary) and Ewenode Onoriode (1st National Assistant Secretary)” as the COVID-19 Committee Secretary.
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