1. It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the 59th Annual General Conference (“AGC”) of the Nigerian Bar Association (“NBA”) holding from Friday, 23 August 2019 to Thursday, 29 August 2019. With the theme, “Facing the Future”, this year’s Conference literally has something for everyone, lawyers and non-lawyers alike. A key novelty is the several specialized Committee Sessions – the outcome of collaborative work in content development for the Conference by the three Sections of the NBA – SBL, SLP and SPIDEL – coordinated by the Technical Committee for Conference Planning (TCCP). This Conference was designed as a test-run of such collaboration, notably in content-development, and it has been a huge success as is showcased by the diversity of the session topics and the number of sessions – 41 in all, a record number. I invite you to visit the Conference website (www.nbaconference.com) for the complete array of bouquet on offer.
2. I must in particular draw your attention to the Rule of Law Symposium Plenary – another innovation in this year’s Conference which I expect would be sustained beyond this administration. As you all know, the essence of our Association and indeed the legal profession is the defense, protection and promotion of the Rule of Law. We believe that a dedicated Plenary on current Rule of Law issues should therefore be a standard fare in our Annual Conferences. The Rule of Law Symposium is scheduled to hold on Tuesday, 27 August 2019 at 2pm and has such contemporary sub-topics like “Why the Rule of Law?”, “Independence of the Legal Profession”, “The Judiciary, Independence Beyond the Letters of the Law”, “Human Rights and Criminal Prosecution” and “Promotion of Access to Justice for Persons Living with Disabilities”.
3. Incidentally, the Rule of Law Symposium is a yearly staple at the Annual Conferences of the International Bar Association (“IBA”) and it is rather fortuitous
that this year’s IBA Symposium, which is scheduled for Friday, 27 September 2019 at Seoul, South Korea, has the topic “Persecution of Lawyers and Judges – threats to the rule of law and the independence of the legal profession”. This is almost a replica of some of the sub-topics at the NBA’s Rule of Law Symposium and yet, the two organizations worked independent of each other in developing the issues and topics for their respective Rule of Law Symposium. This underscores the importance and universality of the issues that would be discussed at the Symposium and we are privileged to have Horacio Bernardes Neto, the President of the International Bar Association as our very special guest for this Conference. He has graciously agreed to deliver a Keynote Address at the Rule of Law Symposium apart from delivering a Keynote Address at the Opening Ceremony of the Conference on Monday, 26 August 2019.
4. For the socially-minded, this Conference will not be all work, networking and talk-shop; there are a number of exciting social events in the programme starting with the 10 kilometre Health Walk scheduled for Saturday, 24 August 2019 at 7am taking off from Harbour Point – one of the two Conference venues. There would also be a Welcome Cocktail on Sunday, 25 August 2019 at 5pm and we would all be entertained with and by a stage Musical – “Fela and the Kalakuta Queens” – on Monday, 26 August 2019 at 7pm. There is of course the President’s Dinner – you would not want to miss that – on Tuesday, 27 August 2019 at 7pm and finally a Music Concert on Wednesday, 28 August 2019 at 6pm to round off the Conference.
5. Some of us may miss the fact that next year’s 2020 Conference would be NBA’s 60th AGC. Attaining 60 is a notable landmark that is worth celebrating and we shall celebrate it in an unforgettable fashion. What you will experience in this year’s AGC will be but a foretaste of what we would roll out for the NBA’s 60th AGC next year and you cannot afford to miss it. The date for the Conference (21-27 August 2020) was approved by NEC at its meeting on 28 March 2019 and we are already bubbling with ideas on how to make that Conference memorable for all of us. We would share our plans with you as soon as they are approved by NEC. Meanwhile, welcome to the NBA 2019 Annual General Conference and enjoy to the fullest the rich menu of our Conference and that of the City of Lagos.
Paul Usoro, SAN