NIGERIA BAR ASSOCIATION, PORT HARCOURT BRANCH 2020 ELECTIONS
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I greet you all in the spirit of brotherhood.
My name is JOHN IYENE OWUBOKIRI. I studied Law at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka between 1987 and 1991. I got called to the Bar in December 1992 and was posted to Kano for the compulsory National Youth Service scheme where I worked with a law firm and taught Evidence, Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure at the Nigeria Police Academy, Wudil, Kano. I joined our the Nigerian Bar Associaton Port Harcourt Branch in December 1993 and I have served in various capacities, including the following:- Member, Expanded Exco, NBA PH 2002 – 2004, Member, Expanded Exco, NBA, PH 2006 – 2008, Member, Disciplinary Committee, NBA, PH 2006 – 2010, Chairman, NBA House/Lawyers’ Common Room Committee 2016 – 2018. I have also worked freelance as a columnist with the Vanguard Newspapers 2004 – 2013 and as a columnist with Sweetcrude Reports, an Energy Publication, from 2013 till date. I am a public Commentator and author of several publications including “Locational Franchise and the Igbo Question in Lagos” published in the Vanguard, March 16, 2019, and “Pools of Hopelessness in their brown eyes,” published September 9, 2019, in Sweetcrude Reports. I am the Co-ordinator of the Niger Delta Initiative for Non-Violent Change. I am also the Co-ordinator, “No Is No,” a social initiative against rape, sexual violence and the protection of girl children.
Let me formally declare that I am vying for the office of Secretary of our Branch. I am inspired to vie for this office for some reasons. Kindly permit me to share some with you here.
We are scheduled to conduct elections for the offices of our PH Branch Executive at a time of anxiety, fear and confusion but there is general congruence the world over that though our circumstances may have been altered by the COVID – 19 pandemic, we must continue our lives, learning and mastering the novel ways of life our new realities press upon us.
Improving on what we have digitally is imperative. And l am in for it as l am tech savvy and will bring in all options available to see that as a branch we remain afloat and tech compliant.
If given the opportunity to serve l promise an ” Accessible & Responsive Secretariat” built to meet the needs of members through Full Digitalization and Accurate Documentation.
A good example is our record keeping process.
Our Branch has enjoyed exponential growth managed by the efforts of past administrations and same requires great improvement. Copies of our certificates and receipts are stacked in heaps of files and stored in the set groups, 1 – 5, 6 – 10, 11 – 15, 20 and above. As physical storage of our delicate and confidential records is necessary, I would if elected as Secretary recommend to you the storage of copies of certificates and receipts in alphabetical order for every set (not set groups) in separate cabinets for easy retrieval. But in addition to the organisation of records in separate cabinets per call set, I would also recommend the storage of copies of our documents in secure data banks which can be reproduced with only a click upon an application by a member, for a token fee. This would address the undue denial of members from benefits they are entitled to because they had lost receipts for payments they actually made. In this manner, members can retrieve from our data bank, copies of certificates and receipts they lost inadvertently or to theft or fire or flooding incidents.
If I am elected I would work assiduously with the Chairman and other members of the Executive Committee to bring in innovations that will set our branch on a global pedestal . This may appear like a tall dream but let me quickly remind you that my proposal as Chairman of the Lawyers’ Common Room/NBA House Committee to refurbish the old Lawyers’ Common Room was scoffed at but actualised without much ado.
I have had the privilege of attending the annual Oil Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, Texas, USA on several occasions and participated in the preparation of Technical Partnership Agreements between Nigerian service companies and American Drilling and Service companies as well as Oil Equipment Manufacturers, OEMs. Houston shares a lot in common with our own Port Harcourt. Both are Oil and Gas Capitals with the implication that oil and gas transactions, gas flaring, pollution, industrial incidents are accidents present legal challenges and require resolution on such recurrent basis that specialisation in those areas of law become imperative. I have taken the liberty to discuss the possibilities of a partnership relationship with a few members of the Houston Bar Association and found them to be very enthusiastic about such a prospect. This is also achievable and it is my firm belief that our members’ practices would be enriched by the exchange programmes such a partnership would engender.
Finally, I wish to assure you that having practised the law for almost 29 years I have experienced like you, the issues that beset lawyers in Port Harcourt. I am running for the office of Secretary of the Branch now to have full opportunity to set the agenda for the resolution of the issues and give to you, my professional colleagues my modest contribution to our development.
Thank you and may God give you the courage to step out and vote, the wisdom to make a good choice and the peace of mind to accept the outcome.
“THE FUTURE IS NOW”.
John Iyene Owubokiri
May 26, 2020