NBA WISHES ITS MEMBERS A HAPPY NEW YEAR, HIGHLIGHTS AREAS OF FOCUS IN THE COMING MONTHS

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Date: 1st January 2022
To: All Lawyers in Nigeria
Subject: Looking back, looking forward – The year ahead of us
My Dear Colleagues,


Let me first thank the Almighty God who saw us through the year 2021 and has given us
the opportunity to witness the start of another year. We are especially thankful
considering that the year was a challenging one for the legal community in many respects.
Despite the challenges posed by the lockdown of our courts during the JUSUN strike,
resurgent Covid-19 pandemic and its attendant economic costs to the legal profession, we
were resilient and trudged on. Each of you found reasons to celebrate different feats, and
as an association, the NBA also made some significant strides – many of which I
communicated to you directly or through our media team in the course of 2021.

That said, I am not oblivious of the losses that we suffered, our colleagues and friends (at
the Bar and the Bench) who passed on, and the general challenges that we continue to
face as a profession. While 2021 is now history, the much that my team and I can commit
to is that we will keep doing our best to address these challenges and justify the
confidence that you have in us.

As you know, this year signals the end of this administration as we are constitutionally
mandated to handover to a new team by August 2022. This, therefore, will be my last New
Year address to you, in my capacity as the NBA President.
Since I have had the privilege of leading the NBA, my team and I have continued to put in
every ounce of our energy towards delivering on your mandate and as the administration
enters what would be its last months, may I assure you that we will continue to do just
that.

When I ran for the office of the President of the NBA, one of the commitments that I made
to you was to revive the NBA and make it an institution that delivers real value to its
members and the society at large. I believe that this objective is being achieved as we
have, through the grace of God, held ourselves to this high standard by ensuring that our
interventions are directed at improving the welfare of our members, restoring the place
of the Bar in our nation building process and introducing initiatives that will raise the
standard of lawyers, make the practice of law more exciting and overall, better our
professional lives.

In addition to what we have done and continue to do, I should highlight three thorny
issues that continue to bother us as a team and in respect of which we are not relenting.

Although we have been working on these issues in varying degrees, we intend to double
our efforts this year to ensure that these issues are resolved or, at least, we will lay the
foundation for their resolution even beyond our term in office.


The first is the slow pace of administration of justice and the unpleasant experience of
many of our members who use the courts. On this, our NBA Judiucary Committee led by
my friend and brother, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade, SAN has been working relentlessly for
possible solutions since we set up that Committee. I have the assurances of the Committee
that, on account of their work, we will begin to see changes at our courts during the year
through their court monitoring activities and other high-level engagements.
The second is remuneration of lawyers and scale of charges for legal services.

I quite
understand the apprehension of our members in this regard, and I can confirm that the
Anthony Nwaochei-led NBA Remuneration Committee has done considerable work on
this issue and are putting finishing touches on their proposals. Once this is concluded,
and we have the approval of the NBA-NEC, we will make the recommendations and
implementation strategies of the Remuneration Committee public and commence
enforcement.


The third is under-employment and unemployment of lawyers. While this is a
macroeconomic issue and cuts across all professions, we are cognisant of the fact that the
NBA can galvanise and play a role in reducing the trend within the legal profession. Our
current approach in dealing with this has been largely through our efforts at helping
lawyers expand the scope of their practice and become more active in other areas of law
outside of our current traditional practice areas. The NBA Institute of Continuing Legal
Education under the able leadership of Mr. Tobenna Erojikwe has been doing an
excellent job in this respect on behalf of the NBA.

This year, we will give more institutional attention to the issue of underemployment/unemployment within the profession and
devise other practical means of dealing with the conundrum, to the extent that it is within
the powers of the NBA to do so. Some of our approaches may not yield the desired results
in the short term, but with sustained efforts, I am confident that we will achieve our
objectives in the mid to long term.


As I conclude, let me remind us that we are now in the fourth phase of the Covid-19
pandemic, according to the World Health Organisation, with the Omicron variant of the
virus ravaging nations and economies, and threatening a new wave of lockdowns in parts
of Europe and America. I therefore urge us to continue to comply with, and adhere to, the
clinical and non-pharmaceutical practices approved by the Nigeria Centre for Disease
Control to protect ourselves, families, friends, and colleagues from the virus. Let us stay
safe as we celebrate into the New Year.


Once again, I wish you a happy and prosperous New Year.
Best regards,
OLUMIDE AKPATA
President, Nigerian Bar Association.

Looking-back-looking-forward-The-year-ahead-of-us-NBA-President

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