Welfare of Lawyers and Need To Be Added As Essential Workers During Covid 19: A peep into Aare Oladotun Hassan address on the KYA platform on 3rd May, 2020

Good afternoon distinguished seniors and learned colleagues.

I am highly grateful to the organizer’s of this highly cerebral forum of legal minds.

Once again I am glad to be here to share my thoughts on basic welfare of lawyers and need to be added as essential workers during this perilous era of Covid 19.

No one ever imagined nor prepared for this unamiganiable pandemic, more better described as war turn zone globally, with global rising death rates of over 300,000 and infected patients of over 3,000,000, while Nigeria is currently battling to stem the astronomical rising tide on high rates of infected patients and death curve daily.

The essence of my prelude is to analyze the scope of duties in which lawyers are key drivers towards attaining a more fundamental solutions in this dreadful fight.

Precipitating my position, it is highly important to recommend that Lawyers are included in the list of essential services, due to the administration of justice and other monitoring roles on the entire management and control of the pandemic.

The NBA is key to be included on the Presidential Task Force Team both Federal and state task force levels, as well as at the local government, for there are lots of legal lacuna bedeviling the progress of the whole process as at date.

While I advocate for lawyer inclusion, due to the high level of human rights violation and lack of legal representation for victims , despite the fact the practice directives both from the AGF and Lagos State Chief Judge on the opening of courts, but I must admit we are not well coordinated abinitio, hence the need for the NBA National leadership come up with a guidelines and urgent need to set up the NBA National Task Force.

I appreciate and acknowledge Mr Paul Usoro SAN on the recent setting up of the Welfare Committee headed by Chief Wale Babalakin SAN as Chairman, however beyond the mechanism and process of welfare for lawyers, I must admit that lots needed to be done in this regard, but after over 2 weeks we are yet to see the distribution of palliative to lawyers.

My position is that better collective methods on this should be put forward, in as much as the 10% of the BPF was paid with strict instruction to utilize the funds on vulnerable lawyers, I am not happy on this because, at a trying times like this requires more scientific methods and better funding for palliative for lawyers via accessing the federal and state government’s grant and distributive supports.

My opinion is that 50% of the Bar Practicing Fees is most needful solution for all lawyers, without any stringent terms.

In addition to that branches are enjoined to provide 50% refund of their branch dues to their members.

It more fundamental to note that we are in a fix as a country, because the Government at all levels are yet to realize the enormous amount of risk we face, looking at the current lackadaisical and deceitful approach on the management of this dreaded disease so far.

One will agree with me that except for the daily rules on avoidance of the Covid 19, nothing tangible is on ground to effectively place us on a right path in the fight viz lack of adequate infrastructure and medical facilities, proper measure on the need to address the fundamental issue of welfare and palliative, with attendant deceit on the part of the federal government with declaration of spending in tune of billions with no tangible to show for it.

We are only left to cope with the hash realities; food hunger on the rise, attendant crime on the increase especially in Lagos and proper medical space to attend to victims of Covid 19.

Lack of protective materials have placed our Frontline health workers on high risk of contracting the disease daily, now the unfortunate reality is the that no more space in our isolation centres and testing is becoming more difficult.

The NBA can serve as a monitoring oversight on the expenditure of generated funds , we can as well provide technical legal support in the administration of justice, especially curtailing the excesses of our law enforcement agents …who are currently having a field day in causing havoc and other breach of fundamental rights

This are core duties the bar can pay rapt attention on.

With sublime respect, I believe the NBA has the capacity to cater for young lawyers, in fact I will suggest all young lawyers should be granted free bpf and branch during waiver, while the Branches can establish A branch of NBA Micro Finance for No interest soft loan for members.

We can diversify into several business areas by registering a private liability company ie NBA Investment Ltd, based on the huge financial yearly revenue we can invest into farming , hotel and hospitality, oil and gas , transportation, even real estate all this will become an income generating asset base for the bar.

As part of my proposal is that the NBA should establish TV and Radio station as part of her media hub ..all this will generate revenue for the bar. This will serve as source of support for members ..even some interested member can be employed

I strongly believe that our welfare is key to the survival of the of our families and other dependant tasks during this covid 19 period, it is most unfortunate to see that this period has exposed lots of us to hash conditions.

Thanks to some financially advantage lawyers taking responsibility by donating food and financial palliative to most vulnerable members of the bar, however this exercise should be continously followed up with monthly till the end of the Covid 19 pandemic.

I pray that we should all maintain all the guidelines of maintaining strict social distancing, wearing of protective mask, go along with hand sanitizer and maintain proper hygiene always, irrespective of the easing of the lock down as from tomorrow 4th of May,2020.

The Nigerian Bar Association ought to be an all encompassing institution; with varying departments managing the welfare and affairs of lawyers through the 126 branches.

Until we create streams of income for lawyers with standards, especially young lawyers.

The NBA on its own should be able to have retainership with leading government institutions wherein, unemployed lawyers can be employed to serve in this purpose.

Thereby making renumeration in form of wages and salary for lawyers employed under it.

Distinguished Gentle men, that’s all for now. Thanks .??