In preparation for the 2019
Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association, Legalnaija had an
exclusive interview with Barrister Kunle Edun, the National Publicity Secretary
of the NBA on what lawyers and delegates should expect at the Annual General Conference in August, 2019, we
can tell you one thing though, there would be free WIFI at the venue. Read the
interview below –

The theme of this year’s Annual General Conference is “Facing the
Future”, what does that mean, the future of law, legal practice or

The theme of this year’s
Conference is very important because of the rapidly changing business
environments that lawyers are compelled to work in.  The various sessions
of the Conference will deliberate on subject matters in various fields of human
endeavour and will lead conversations that will prepare the Nigerian lawyers
for the future taking into consideration the evolving business world  and
to also anticipate adaptive measures that legal practitioners will be required
to embrace in light of these evolutionary trends.

Why is there no archive of videos from past NBA conferences on the NBA website?

You may be talking about
past Conferences. The 2019 AGC Conference will have robust contents on every
information a conferee will need to know about the conference. List of speakers
and their papers will be uploaded. Landmark events including pictorials about
the conference will be a regular feature. We are working on also including
tourist sites in Lagos for the benefit of members who may want to have some
relaxation. It is going to be a bumper package for Conferees.

What is in place to encourage grants and researches on topical issues after the
annual NBA-AGC?

Considering the importance
of theme of the Conference which is, Facing the Law, the NBA will use this
year’s Conference to set the conversation tone for the future of the legal
profession. So it is not a one-stop affair. The NBA Section on Legal Practice,
the Section on Business Law and the Section on Public Interest and Development
Law are integral components of the conference. Their individual Conferences
enjoy grants and sponsorships from corporate Partners. The sponsorship has been
made possible because of the continued relevance of the conferences organised
by the NBA. Topical issues that are drivers for the economy and political
development of the country have endeared many sponsors and partners to the NBA
Conference. We are gradually having an increasing participation of
international organisations, thusly making the NBA an established global brand
which ultimately internationalize the Nigerian legal profession. 

Has any of the position papers and debates from the NBA – AGC Translated into
national or state policies?

Yes. The enactment of the
Administration of Criminal Justice Act and Administration of Criminal Laws of
the various States are offshoots of discussion points set by the NBA and
sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation. The NBA has set the tone on State
Police, true federalism and the entrenchment of rule of law. The innovations
brought into the extant Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules were
set by the NBA Conferences. Many appellate Judicial decisions reflect the
consensus reached at the NBA Conferences. The society must keep on evolving and
the NBA being a major social influencer has been playing it’s social
responsibility roles effectively.

Last year many lawyers could not register for the conference due to problems on
the registration portal, will lawyers experience this again?

This year’s Conference will
be an improvement. The registration portal has been greatly improved and the
TCCP took into consideration the challenges faced by delegates in previous
conferences. We also have a dedicated help desk that would be willing to assist
intending Conferees should they have any challenge.

The Technical Committee on Conference Planning (“TCCP”) has announced
that there wouldn’t be onsite registration at the AGC, what is the TCCP doing
to ensure that delegates receive their conference materials within time
& with less hassles?

Yes, there would be no
onsite registration. We have observed that some of the Conferees that
complained of non or delayed receipt of their Conference materials, actually
paid onsite or very late. We want to satisfy members and want the issue of
complaints about Conference materials to be a thing of the past. Hence adequate
preparations would also require intending Conferees to register on time,
particularly our senior colleagues. It is therefore important that senior
lawyers register early too. This will assist us in preparing early. The
distribution of conference materials will be seamless. I can assure you on

Are there any eminent or international personalities that will be attending the

Yes. Traditionally the
President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria would be present at the Opening
Ceremony. Arrangements have been firmed up with some international speakers.
The IBA President has confirmed that he will attend the conference. This brings
more international flavour to the conference.  However, for this year’s
Conference we would also have a very rich assemblage of prominent and
internationally acclaimed Nigerian speakers. This country is blessed with great
intellectuals and we are tapping into that rich reservoir. If we are to face
the future we have to also be inward looking.

Which artist would be performing at the AGC?

The Local Organising
Committee chaired by Chuka Ikwazuom, the Chairman of Lagos branch and his
brother Chairmen in Lagos State are preparing a full package of social events.
Getting close to the conference the identities of special star appearances
would be announced. Members are urged to prepare for a good time and regularly
visit the conference website for news bits.

Many lawyers are complaining about the high conference fees despite the recent discount,
any comments?

The NBA President, Paul
Usoro, SAN assured members that this year’s Conference would be pocket
friendly. Taking this into consideration the TCCP made a proposal at the NEC
meeting of what lawyers should pay. The NBA President advised that the TCCP
reviews the fees downward. This compelled a 25% discount for lawyers between
the ages of 1-10 at the bar. We still got more complaints and requests for
further reductions. The NBA President is a listening President. The TCCP with
the approval of the NBA President made a reduction across board for all the
categories of intending Conferees. In taking this decision the TCCP recognized
the fact that the conference fees paid for the 2018 Conference were actually
the same that were paid for the 2017 Conference; also considering the
increasing inflationary trend in the country. The venues and materials that
would be required for the conference have had their rates increased since 2017.
The service providers also increased their prices. There is a general donor
apathy because of the economic situation of the country. However, we are still
poised to deliver a quality Conference where there would be no complaints from

Will lawyers receive any conference materials of relevance like research tools

Yes, there would be
customized Conference materials. Since we are looking at the future we are also
considering presenting a sort of Mobile office Conference materials that would
be in a specially designed Conference bags which will also come with many
freebies. We are not yet closed on the freebies to be included because we are
still discussing with more service providers to enable us include as many
quality freebies as possible. Something that would gladden delegates.

Will there be internet?

There shall be free WiFi at
the conference venues.

Will President Buhari be attending the conference?

We are loking forward to the
President coming.

Will issues such as welfare of lawyers be discussed at the conference?

Some of the topics to be
discussed by some fora and sections will touch on welfare of members,
particularly on innovations for making law practice to thrive. We also have
topics that will touch on improving the welfare of younger lawyers and the new
vistas in the legal profession.

The huge cost of holding the NBA-AGC has come up many times, what is this
administration doing to reduce cost of organisation while increasing the output
of the conference?

NBA is the largest bar in
Africa. We expect participation for this year’s Conference to be around 13,000.
This would require enormous funds to organise. However, we should be looking at
cost reduction measures where necessary without sscrificing quality. The TCCP
is embarking on aggressive funds drive. The Fund Raising Sub Committee is doing
a hard work on that. Like I said earlier there is a general  donor apathy.
The value of the naira has not improved. I agree with you that in the long run,
all things being equal, we should work on reducing the conference fees, which
has always been the intention of the NBA President.

The main venue of the Conference will be the Convention Centre of the Eko Hotel
& Suites in Victoria Island, Lagos while the Harbour Point Event
Centre, also in Victoria Island, will serve as an additional venue. Will there
be free transportation to take lawyers from one centre to the other?

Yes. The LOC is working on
ensuring that the transportation from the various points and routes are less
stressful. We are also partnering with the FRSC to make the routes to and from
the conference venues free or low on vehicular traffic as much as possible.

What would you like lawyers to look forward at this NBA – AGC?

The best ever held
Conference within living memory. We welcome all intending Conferees to the
beautiful city of Lagos, Nigeria.

Looking forward to seeing all
lawyers at the Annual General Conference, it is important to note that
registration for the AGC has commenced and you can register for the 2019 NBA
AGC here.