BY: VITALIS UGOH Calabar
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon.Femi Gbajabiamila, has advised Nigerian Lawyers to “fix evident dysfunctions” that corrupt the legal profession and undermine its age-long integrity.
He gave the advice in his keynote address presented at the 2021 Nigerian Bar Association-Section on Legal Practice (NBA-SLP) annual conference held at Ibom Icon Hotel and Golf Resort Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.
Gbajabiamila who was represented by the Chairman House Committee on Judiciary and member representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium federal consituency, Mr. Onofiok Luke, stressed that as lawyers and citizens, they need to make effort to try to do things differently for the profession and the country.
He noted that the nation is desperately in need of honest brokers to mediate a national dialogue to resolve various pressing issues and give the nation a new lease of life.
“This conference is coming at a time in our country when we are confronted with and must answer critical questions about the terms of our nationhood and the conditions for a sustained national union”.
“Throughout history, it has often fallen to lawyers to do a lot of the heavy lifting of nation-building. That is still the case today. We have a lot of work to do, and the destiny of our nation may well depend on how well we do the job that this moment requires of.
“The work of fixing our country must begin in our own house, within our profession. Before we can begin to play our full and proper role as lawyers in the difficult, yet necessary task of nationbuilding, we have to fix those evident dysfunctions that corrupt the Nigerian legal profession and undermine its prestige.
“When in a world of inexorable change we deliberately, or by inaction, maintain fidelity to outmoded practices and dated conventions for their own sake, we do ourselves a disservice and risk becoming relics rather than the innovators we ought to be for our sakes and the benefit of our nation” he added.
In his remarks, the guest of honour and governor of Akwa Ibom State Mr. Udom Emmanuel asked in rethoric; is it by any chance possible that the current challenges with the Nigerian project are a consequence of the justice that Lawyers failed to dispense in the past?
Emmanuel who was represented by his deputy, Mr. Moses Ekpo stated that the theme of the conference, “Law, Lawyer and the Next Generation” ,says it all on the cross-generational impact of what lawyers do or fail to do in their capacity as ministers in the temple of justice.
“As you take the law practice this time around through the crucible of this conference, I urge therefore that you do so within the context of the larger concerns about our country. I hope that you will find a way of reshaping our sense of nationhood towards building a land of peace and, justice and unity”, Emmanuel stated.
Declaring the 4-day conference open the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mohammed Tanko, who was represented by Hon. Justice Abdul Aboki said there was need for women and men of good conscience and leaders of thought must not stand aloof and watch the country degenerate further than it is today.
“Our country is officially week and the leaders of the population have a virtual role to play as the conscience of the society to secure equity, fairness and justice” He said.
Earlier In his welcome address, the President, (NBA) Mr. Olumide Akpata, identified globalization and technological advancements as the two primary factors that are changing all global industries at a rate that has never been imagined.
“May the day never break when members of the Nigerian Bar Association, the largest Bar in Africa, wake up to the rude shock that they are unable to stand shoulder to Shoulder with their counterpart in the world because they have refused to equip themselves with the skillsets necessary for global practice.
“In welcoming you to this conference, I am confident that with the line-up of the stellar faculty the participants would leave the conference charged and wel-equipped for the challenges of a changing time and business climate”, Akpata noted.