(By Udems)

“The greatest talent one can have is learning when to speak and when to not.” (per Bryant A. Loney)

I’ve just read a piece wherein a colleague (learned) strove so hard (but did he succeed? Can he?) to convince his learned colleagues that NBA’s policy of Stamp and Seal was an exercise in unconstitutionality. With the greatest respect to this learned friend, I am sorry I have to say it this way, it’s self-demeaning, unthinking for any lawyer to argue that the introduction of the NBA seal is unconstitutional. Such a bizarre, lame line of argument shows that some lawyers have been so unfortunately compromised, and so turned against their own profession and its life, that they themselves ( “enemies” within) have now lost sight of, and touch with, the very essence of their being, as lawyers. Why should a lawyer fail or refuse to engage in diligent and far-reaching research in order to appreciate the true position of law on such an elementary issue as the constitutionality of introduction of stamp and seal, before coming out to write something so patently and irritatingly indecipherable. Anyway, I can remember Plato’s words: “some speak because they have something to say; some speak because they just want to say something.”

An important question however arises: Must one say something when one knows one has nothing to say? This last question leads to another question: Does one who speaks without knowing know that one doesn’t know? A difficult question indeed, this is! And this could be the reason Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had insisted that “there is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.” Supported by Charies Darwin’s postulation that “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” To borrow from Confucius, ”real knowledge consists in one knowing the extent of one’s ignorance.”

Don’t get me wrong; I am not against one speaking one’s mind at any time, on anything. Indeed, I am an advocate of free speech and expression. Besides, as Germany Kent said, sometimes, “to say nothing is saying something. You must denounce things you are against or one might believe that you support things you really do not.” However, it is my position that one doesn’t just wake up and begin to speak. One ought to try and take the time to make some sense for what one wants to say. Abraham Lincoln said, “I am very little inclined on any occasion to say anything unless I hope to produce some good by it.” Germany Kent again: “Speak with caution…. Don’t leave a legacy of pain and regret of things you never should have said.” Further, as already pointed out above, the greatest talent one can have is learning when to speak and when to not. Then comes this fine piece of advice from Jagadeesh Kumar: “If you want to speak the right, speak at the right time” Finally, i submit, if you must speak, you should at least try and say something worth repeating by others. This is where objectiveness and diligent research play good roles. If you would not be patient and diligent enough to explore the benefits of dedicated research and undiluted objectiveness, then “never miss a good chance to shut up. “ There’s yet another angle to this whole discussion: when you are convinced that you want to speak the right, then ensure you speak at the right time. Speaking the right is not half as important as speaking at the right time; this is so that yours is not considered a square peg in a round hole, a mismatch. But learn this: when/if you have nothing to say, please try and just say nothing. “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool,” as suggested by Abraham Lincoln, “than to speak and to remove all doubt.”

May I respectfully end this comment by reminding all members of the NBA (Nigerian Bar Association) of the African proverb that says, “if there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm.” This put differently (albeit in Shakespeare’s words), “the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves, that we’re underlinings.” While we stay on guard to ward/fight off vicious and rampaging assaulters from outside our association, we may have to look inwards to find or sort out the real enemies of the profession/association.
I off my mic for now!

Sylvester Udemezue