The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Annual General Conference (AGC) 2017, is fast approaching. The NBA has continued to receive immense encouragement, support and enthusiasm shown not only by our members, but also by non-lawyers alike. The response received this year has been unprecedented, as many of our colleagues were quick to take advantage of the online registration process.
We experienced some initial glitches with the registration process. Most of these were promptly addressed and resolved. The biggest challenge we have had has been the limitation on the numbers of participants, as determined by the limited capacity at the Conference facilities, and our desire to have a meaningful Conference taking into account security, health, safety and other factors. The Conference was sold out within 12 days of the opening of registration.
Despite this, and in order to meet the yearnings of our members, I held an emergency meeting with the Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP) on 9th July, 2017. We reviewed the situation and decided to remove the quotas assigned to categories of members which the TCCP had previously approved in order to get a good mix of participants. We also approved the increase of participants by 20%. The TCCP continued the registration on a first-come, first-served basis as directed. After taking professional advice, it is clear that we cannot have the numbers exceed the current limit. Nevertheless, having regard to the continuing interest and pressure from our members, we have held a further meeting with the members of the TCCP and approved the following measures:
1. The TCCP has been directed to look into the possibility of setting up a remote viewing center in the vicinity of the Conference Venue that will allow our colleagues to view proceedings from the viewing centre.
2. The TCCP shall open the portal for further registration as an overflow list. Members who have hitherto been unable to register will now be able to log on to the website and register their names and particulars. Members registering for the Conference at this time will indicate their desire to either :
a) Receive the tablet and Conference materials only; or
b) Receive the tablet, Conference materials and have access to the remote viewing center (the viewing center shall be set up only if we receive sufficient expressions of interest from members interested in remote viewing.)
3. In addition to these measures, the TCCP is arranging for the following, to enable as many of our members as possible have access to the conference proceedings live regardless of registration:
a. There will be live streaming of the proceedings on the Conference website.
b. We are negotiating for a dedicated DSTV Channel for live broadcast of the Conference Proceedings on all days of the Conference.
c. We are also negotiating for some limited live broadcasts with local TV stations as well as with the CNBC station. This will be in addition to other broadcasts of Conference summaries and the Conference documentary to be aired after the event, on some of these channels.
We are confident that these measures will meet the expectations of our members who desire to be part of the conference experience without compromising the legitimate concerns of health and safety. I will like to appeal to our members for their cooperation and support as we continue our efforts to deliver a conference befitting of the BAR.
Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud, OON, SAN, FCIArb, SFNLI
President, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA)