The Paul Usoro Years (2018-2020): Cost and Course of NBA Meetings Part 2- Akorede Habeeb Lawal

It is this later point that defines our difference – NBA meetings should not be a “sight-seeing” opportunity. If you must see the country, hire a chopper and pay a pilot and off you go.

There is little doubt that the significance of the venue of a meeting is fast becoming inconsequential, and this is because of the compelled embrace of videoconferencing technology in the wake of the present Covid-19 pandemic.

However, one remarkable thing that has changed with NBA meetings since the inception of the Paul Usoro SAN leadership, is the constancy in the venue of the NBA quarterly NEC meetings. The meeting has always held at the auditorium of the NBA House in Abuja.

Credit is due here to the A.B. Mahmoud SAN leadership for completing the auditorium and making it conducive for a proper meeting. And it is the frequent use of this NBA facility that has triggered the Paul Usoro SAN leadership to embark on the ongoing project of completing the NBA House.

As an administration, we have been on the end of keeping our discussions at home by hosting all NEC meetings at the NBA headquarters in Abuja. The emergency NEC meeting held in the wake of the unlawful suspension of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria by the Federal Government may not have taken place if we were to go shopping for a venue. More on this in a later piece.

Since we have been holding NEC meetings at the NBA House, the meetings have taken a more business and serious dimension as the meeting hours are solely dedicated to the agenda of the meeting. The agenda is mostly exhausted with the vibrance of the morning and upon return from lunch, some few issues are touched – leaving ample time to discuss and make resolutions on state of the nation and any other business.

In contrast, such meetings in the past would start about 10am with an opening ceremony that would most likely have the Governor of the hosting state in attendance. The Governor and his entourage would not depart until about noon – taking with them all the energy of the morning. Afternoon, NEC members would go for lunch, the full hall in the morning would have few heads after lunch – some of whom would be debilitated by their heavy meal. It is those few heads that would hurriedly meet for some few hours, rushing down the agenda to clear the hall for decorators who would be hovering around to re-arrange the meeting for the customary dinner. Meeting done, but agenda hardly dusted!

By the way, what is it that is said about talking while eating? No matter the deficiencies or wrong noticed or perceived by the NBA during her stay in the hosting State, NEC would hardly make a comment about it, talkless of making resolutions against it.

Certainly, there are some gains in taking the NEC minutes of the NBA all over Nigeria. The proponents of this idea will contend that it stamps the presence of the Bar in such places, gives the hosting Branch (es) some sense of belonging and reckoning, while also availing NEC members the opportunity of “seeing the country.” It is this later point that defines our difference – NBA meetings should not be a “sight-seeing” opportunity. If you must see the country, hire a chopper and pay a pilot and off you go.

Each NEC meeting comes with quarterly reports of the efforts of the administration and its various adhoc and standing committees. Abreast with facts about the activities of every national officer and committee, the NBA President is always on hand to elucidate the reports and enliven the presentations of the national officer or committee members to NEC members.

Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN is famed for his boardroom skills and experience, and he has brought all of that to bear in the way and manner he presides over the NBA meetings. All opinions are heard and taken into consideration before resolutions are made at the NBA meetings.

At the 2019 AGM, the constitutional review committee in a bid to ensure that persons do not aspire to the office of President and General Secretary with any expectation of pecuniary reward had proposed that the NBA Constitution be amended to include that aspirants for the offices of President and General Secretary must be persons of reasonable financial worth. The arguments for and against the proposal were heated and the whole agenda for amendment of other non-contentious provisions of the constitution was going down the drain. The President however took charge and was able to lead the meeting to a common ground where Article 8 (3) (e) was introduced into the NBA Constitution.

The meetings of this present NBA administration have without doubt been purposeful, little wonder fate places on the ready shoulders of the Paul Usoro leadership the innovative opportunity of hosting the first ever virtual NEC meeting and annual general meeting. Going by the “business-like” course of the physical meetings, the assurance of having rich, seamless and rewarding online meetings is without doubt. We have long been prepared for this present future.

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