One of the main highlights of the Opening Day at the Annual General Conference of the NBA Women Forum in Abuja was the strong show of solidarity and support by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN. In his comments at the occasion, the NBA helmsman drew parallels between technology and the innate creativity and adaptability of the female person. He echoed the theme of the Conference by listing a number of female technological giants, past and present, who transformed the world by their innovative spirit. Maikyau pledged the support of the parent Association for the programmes, projects and projections of the NBA Women Forum, going forward.

In a press interview shortly afterward, the NBA President expressed his optimism about the NBAWF’s glorious future, and his admiration for the resilience and dynamism of its leadership, under Mrs. Chinyere Okorocha and her predecessor, Prof. Oluyemisi Bamgbose, SAN in the manner in which they shepherded the Forum back from its long hiatus in such an emphatic and colourful manner.

NEWSWIRE Law and Events Magazine correspondent in Abuja reports that Maikyau’s heartwarming show of solidarity with the Women Forum came in the midst of a pair of panel discussions on inclusion and collaboration. In the third discussion of the day, which was moderated by Mrs. Inemesit Dike, founder and CEO at the The Legal Concierge (Inemesit Dike & Co.), the discussants sought, among other things, to explore the potential of technology to induce policies that impact the inclusion of women, as well as how women can drive the deployment of tech to achieve that worthy end.


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Mrs. Dike’s panel comprised a lone male in the person of Mazi Afam Osigwe, SAN, Senior Partner at Law Forte; Hajiya Asia Ahmed el-Rufai, foremost disability advocate and inclusion advocate who is also the wife of the Governor of Kaduna State; Ngozi Aderibigbe, a Partner at the Law Firm of Jackson, Etti & Edu; and Dr. Aderemi Omotubora, a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of Lagos.

Women and technology, said Mrs. Aderibigbe in her opening salvo, are a natural fit, as women are far more adaptable to new situations and technologies than their male counterparts. The picture, she however said, was different when it came to female lawyers; as members of a famously conservative tribe, they are rather slow to embrace new technologies. Another drawback, she added, was poverty; many female lawyers simply do not have the means to purchase relevant but high-end technological devices. To those who can, though, she advised law firms to cultivate the habit of storing important documents using Cloud solutions. She also advised her colleagues to embrace proficiency in coding and other tech skills, describing them as ‘life skills’ in the global economy, in much the same way as literacy and numeracy were in the last century. One low-hanging fruit, she advised, would be to showcase one’s abilities on LinkedIn and take it from there.

The Senior Advocate, Mazi Osigwe expressed bemusement at the general apprehension among lawyers at the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the prospect of its taking jobs away from human lawyers. This fear, while not altogether unfounded, he said, can however be mitigated by a higher level of understanding on the part of the practitioner and greater insight into the lawyer’s true role in the work of organizations and society. Technologies like AI, he said, can be a great complement to the lawyer with superior skills – seeing that AI is, after all, a human construct.

Dr. Omotubora spoke at length on intellectual property and technology law and its evolution in various jurisdictions across the globe, calling on the authorities and the private sector to invest more in the technology sector and devise progressive policies designed to bridge the digital gap and foster greater inclusion.

The subject of inclusion is one that is dear to the heart of Hajiya el-Rufai, who noted, sadly, that the Bar’s attitude towards lawyers with Special Abilities (as she called them) was, if not that of outright rejection and exclusion, then that of a certain distancing. But with the setting up of the NBA Committee on Lawyers with Disability, she is hopeful of a far more positive engagement among differently-abled lawyers. Technology, she said, has shown itself to be a remarkable enabler of inclusion – even when other tendencies in society and the law space tend towards excluding the physically-challenged. Hajiya el-Rufai called for a more intentional investment in user-friendly technology for people in that category.

Summing up, the moderator, Mrs. Dike urged lawyers, law firms and Bar organisations to extend advanced (and continuing) legal education into the area of technology, and called on governments at both national and subnational levels to do more to help those who are helping others to live meaningful lives and do meaningful work – in law and other areas of endeavour.

NEWSWIRE’s correspondent also reports that the final panel session of the day examined the current state of collaboration between the NBA Women Forum and sister organisations around the world. Moderated by Oyinkansola Badejo-Okusanya, Partner at the Africa Law Practice (ALP), the panel consisted of representatives of various law associations dedicated to the empowerment of female lawyers – namely, Sheryl Galler, Chairperson of the New York State Bar Women in Law Section; Ibukun Alabi, Chair, Business Network at BNLF; Cordelia Eke, who is currently a Director at the Rivers State Ministry of Justice; Amina S. Agbaje, the National President of the Nigeria branch of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA); and Mulikat Thomas, Chairperson of Programmes at the African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA).

Launching into the topic of discussion, Galler asserted that her organization’s collaborations across the globe mirror its overall objectives – with regard to pay disparities; inclusion and representation in leadership roles; the importance of training and capacity-building; and advocacy for legislation and deliberate policies towards enhancing the rights of women, children and natural environment.

To the above objectives, Alabi added the need for constant networking, on both bilateral and multilateral levels, which she said her organisation, BNLF, was big on, as well as raising awareness on the need for women to affirm and boost one another for career and business opportunities.

Echoing Alabi’s and Galler’s contributions, Eke, Agbaje and Thomas urged greater cohesion among not just their respective organisations but among individual female lawyers, saying the ‘Pull Her Down’ syndrome was all too pervasive for comfort. They went on to enumerate their respective organisations’ efforts and programmes towards achieving global solidarity among female lawyers.

The interactive session that followed the panel discourse featured, among other contributions, a passionate appeal by the President of AWLA, Nigeria’s Mrs. Mandy Asagba, for all female lawyers of African descent – no matter their professional affiliations – to see themselves as one big sisterhood. Only then, she said, can they hope to present a common front in the fight for gender equity.

It was on that note that the opening day’s proceedings at the 3rd AGC of the NBA Women Forum came to a close. The vote of thanks was given by Mohammed Adama, Senior Legal Officer at the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) who doubles as an NBAWF Council Member and Chair of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) for this year’s Conference.

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