The last National executive committee (NEC) meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in 2018 was held at the NBA house in Abuja. That was the first NEC meeting under the Paul Usoro SAN administration.

Again, the NEC meeting will hold at the same venue in the facility owned by the NBA.

Why should this be of concern?

Previously, NEC meetings were characterised by jamborees and parties alongside the serious meetings. The meetings were held in different cities across the country four times a year in paid conference halls. That seems to have stopped.

With the emergence of Paul Usoro SAN,  a courtroom  and boardroom Lawyer, the NEC meetings have assumed another level of seriousness.

Yes, the mobility of the NEC meetings exposed members to different parts of the country and different cultures but that came at a huge cost detrimental to the association.

While lawyers travelled the nooks and crannies of the country attending NEC meetings four times a year, the expensive edifice that houses the NBA headquarters (which has the capacity to host the meeting) was abandoned to dilapidate at the expense of the NBA and Lawyers at large who contribute financially to the running of the association.

Holding the meeting at the NBA House has brought three important benefits to the affairs of Africa’s Largest Bar Association.

  1. It is saving cost
  2. It is promoting the Independence of the  bar
  3. It is encouraging participation and seriousness at meetings

Apart from extra expenses incurred from renting conference spaces outside Abuja , the NBA also incurred expenses in moving its support staff to the venues of the meeting all the time. It also incurred the expenses in moving meeting materials from Abuja. That came at a huge   cost.

Previously, the sponsorship of the state Governors was a deciding factor in choosing a venue. Most times,the governors of the host state donate to the budget .Perhaps this is where the proponents of mobility of the NEC meetings will score a point as to cost owing to the fact that some governors under write some part of the budget. This is arguable but the unfortunate effect is the subjugation of the bar. The politicians consequently begin to have a sense of authority over the affairs of the Bar as a result of their contribution thereby putting the independence of the Bar in Jeopardy.

Of Course NEC meetings under previous administration have always been serious; however, they tend to struggle with distractions when the meetings are moved around.

Lawyers who visit a host city for the first time are usually more eager to explore the city than sitting down to have a meeting all day. That affects participation.

Paul Usoro who has risen to the Presidency of the Nigerian Bar promising cuts will have six more NEC meetings ahead of him after this week’s meeting. If he succeeds in hosting majority or all the NEC meetings in Abuja in his tenure, he will be making good his promise to cut cost among other areas where he is saving cost in running the bar.

He promised to advance the welfare of lawyers and lawyers are hoping that in saving cost, he will increase expenses in welfare. He has continued to show commitment to that too

In two days’ time, NEC members will begin to head to Abuja, the beautiful capital of Nigeria for another NEC meeting. A lot has happened in the Profession in the last three months and a packed agenda is expected.

Expectedly, the President of the Bar will preside over a successful NEC meeting with his boardroom demeanour.

Anthony Atata

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