Preparations are in top gear for the 62nd Nigerian Bar Association Annual General Conference (NBAAGC) themed “Bold Transitions”. In a matter of days, lawyers from all corners of Nigeria will converge on the audacious Eko Atlantic City in Lagos for the annual conference that has over the years been known to be the largest gathering of lawyers anywhere in the world.
As the August 19th date for the commencement of the conference draws close, and with the Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP) having unveiled the various conference activities, indications are emerging that the Olumide Akpata-led NBA administration is on course to deliver a legacy conference that sets a standard that will become a benchmark for subsequent NBA conferences.
Tobenna Erojikwe, the TCCP Chairman, had earlier said the core objective of the NBAAGC 2022 is “to host a world-class conference, with in-depth discourse on critical issues affecting the legal profession and the country, facilitated by the most eminently qualified resource persons able to galvanize all conference attendees towards the path of becoming better legal practitioners and experts in their chosen fields; shape public opinion on critical issues; and inspire lawyers to build the law firms of the future”.
So far, the activities lined up for the 2022 Annual General Conference are generating a high level of interest and enthusiasm among lawyers. One exciting event for many lawyers who have registered for the conference is the Presidential Candidates’ session, where the candidates of the major political parties in the 2023 presidential elections are expected to speak on “Democratic Transitions in 21st Century Nigeria: 2023 and Beyond”. Already, the TCCP has confirmed that two of the four leading candidates, Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of Labour Party (LP), have given their word that they would be present, while Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) are yet to confirm their availability.
Underscoring the importance of the Presidential Candidates’ plenary, a first in the history of the NBA AGC, the TCCP said it would present an opportunity to critically assess Nigeria’s democratic journey since 1999, identify key challenges which have perennially bedeviled the polity, and evaluate sustainable solutions to these challenges. The session will also aim at encouraging greater citizen participation in the governance of Nigeria with lawyers playing a leading role.
“With the poor state of our economy, mounting insecurity, comatose education system, decaying infrastructure, persistent inter-ethnic crises and general high cost of living, the 2023 elections may be a watershed moment for Nigeria. This session will provide a platform for the key presidential candidates in the 2023 elections to give insights on their respective roadmaps for addressing Nigeria’s key challenges and leading Nigeria’s next democratic transition,” Erojikwe said.
Many prospective participants are also looking forward to the Keynote Speech by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, Americanah, and several other works. The multiple award-winning author who has delivered two landmark TED talks – her 2009 TED Talk “The Danger of A Single Story” and her 2012 TEDx Euston Talk “We Should All Be Feminists” – will be speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference.
For some others, the attraction comes from the topics lined up for discussion at the sessions. These include, among others, “AfCFTA: Nigerian Lawyers’ Capacity to Service a Globalized Economy”; “Building a Respectable Bar: Issues Arising on the Regulation of the Legal Profession in Nigeria”; “The Fit for Purpose Lawyer: Reflections on the State of Legal Education in Nigeria”; “Legal Ethics and Etiquettes: Restoring the Dignity of the Legal Profession in Nigeria”; “Lawyers’ Earning Capacity: A Discussion on the NBA Remuneration Committee Report”; “Technology and the Law: Creating a Digital NBA”; and “Spotlight on Brutality, Abuse of Office and Harassment of Lawyers by Security Agencies”.
The Meta session, where Meta, owners of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, will lead the conversation on the topic “Towards an Effective Privacy and Data Protection Regime: The Role of the Nigerian Lawyer”, is also another attraction. Of course, many see the Meta collaboration with NBA, for a conference themed “Bold Transitions”, as significant. Meta, one of the world’s most valuable companies which is considered among the Big Five American information technology companies, builds technologies that help people connect, find communities, and grow businesses. Its Facebook, launched in 2004, heralded a bold transition as it changed the way people connect, while apps like Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp further empowered billions around the world.
NBA branches as well as football lovers are looking forward to the NBA-AGC Male and Female Football Competitions slated to hold between Thursday, 18th August and Tuesday, 23rd August 2022. The football competitions will see the winning team for both the male and female matches cart away a prize of not less than N500,000.
Among young lawyers, their excitement is built around the many activities lined up for them. For instance, there is the Young Lawyers’ Forum (Job Fair), where senior and vastly experienced legal professionals will provide insights and share their career experiences with young lawyers. The session, which is in tandem with a cardinal focus of the present NBA administration to improve the welfare, and career development, of young lawyers, will also identify diverse opportunities for young lawyers within the legal profession and explore practical tips and strategies for sustainable career growth and development.
But that is not all. There is the AGC Creative Talents Show, which seeks to support local talents among lawyers in Nigeria and give them a platform to showcase their talent at the forthcoming Annual General Conference. The AGC Creative Talents Show, with iLLBLISS, Nigerian rapper, businessman and owner of ‘The Goretti Company’, as its Creative Director, is seen as one capable of launching talented young lawyers into a successful career in the creative industry.
Young lawyers also have a chance to get a sponsored place at the AGC if they emerge victorious in a pitch contest where they are expected to express their understanding of the 2022 theme ‘Bold Transitions’ in a 250-word script accompanied with a video of their voicing these expressions.
But there are many other exciting sessions. The session on “Financing Your Practice and the NBA Access to Finance Scheme” will seek to create awareness and enlightenment on how the NBA Access to Finance Scheme, one of the most impactful initiatives and welfare agenda of the current NBA administration, operates and also provide practical tips and guidance to lawyers on managing their finances.
There is the Health and Wellbeing session, which will provide tips on how lawyers can achieve a decent work-life balance notwithstanding busy schedules and the demands of their jobs. The session will also examine habits which lawyers ought to inculcate and maintain to stay fit and healthy while on and off work, as well as provide useful tips and advice on how lawyers may deal with, or seek help for, depression and mental health challenges.
There is a session dedicated to lawyers with disabilities. This session will x-ray the peculiar challenges faced by lawyers with disabilities both in practice and as members of NBA, and proffer practical solutions towards achieving inclusiveness and equality.
And there is the attraction of the host city itself. Without a doubt, Lagos is the epicentre of Nigeria’s thriving technology sector, the country’s economic capital and the lifeblood of its civil society. But the attraction goes beyond Lagos itself. Eko Atlantic City, the venue of the conference, is a classic story of bold, innovative thinking. One of the world’s cutting-edge new cities, Eko Atlantic City stands on 10 million square metres of land reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean and protected by the Great Wall of Lagos, an 8.5km-long sea wall constructed primarily of rock and faced with concrete accropode armour. The city, which is being developed to be self-sufficient and sustainable to meet the needs for financial, commercial, residential and tourist accommodations with infrastructure in line with modern and environmental standards, has been variously described as the new economic capital of Africa and Africa’s Manhattan, because it is planned to be the size of Manhattan’s skyscraper district.
To cushion the effect of rising cost, the TCCP went into an arrangement with NACO Logistics to ensure that delegates attending the 2022 NBA Annual General Conference get hotel accommodations at discounted rates.
With a few days to go, the TCCP, composed of a fine selection of some of the best minds within the NBA, is leaving no one in doubt that it is capable of meeting the target set for it by the present NBA administration – to organise a conference akin in quality of content and ambience to the World Economic Forum, the International Bar Association Conference and African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Conferences.