1. It is exactly 30 days to the start of the 62nd Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA-AGC) billed to take place from 19th – 26th August 2022 at the Eko Atlantic City, Victoria Island Lagos State with the theme, ‘BOLD TRANSITIONS’.
2. I wish to commence this update by expressing, on behalf of the Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP), our sincere gratitude to you for the overwhelming confidence that you have bestowed on us and the unprecedented interest you have shown in this year’s NBA-AGC as illustrated by the impressive registration figures recorded so far.
3. As you are aware, on 12th June 2022, registration for the NBA-AGC commenced with an early bird registration which ended on 17th July 2022. The TCCP sincerely empathize with our members who were, for various reasons, unable to take advantage of the early bird registration window to enjoy huge discounts in the registration fees. Although we received various genuine requests for extension, the TCCP carefully explored all possibilities to extend the window but, for the reasons provided below, it was logistically impossible to extend the window.
4. In fixing the early bird registration window, we took into account the fact that previous windows had historically been fixed for approximately 4 weeks with an extension typically lasting for 7 days. We therefore fixed an early bird registration window of 5 weeks to allow enough time for our members to take advantage of the discounted rates.
5. In terms of planning and logistics, we have been consistent in our communications that we anticipate an increase in the number of delegates for the 2022 NBA-AGC from circa 11,000 delegates to 13000 delegates physically present and unlimited virtual participants. It is on the basis of this figure that we have been planning this Conference. We also arrived at this figure of 13,0000 after considering various factors chief among which were historical attendance figures and of course conference costs.
6. By way of comparison, at the last NBA-AGC held in the pre-Covid era, in 2019, and incidentally in Lagos, there were a total of 11694 delegates without the option of virtual participation. For the 2021 NBA-AGC which held in Port Harcourt, a total of 10,147 delegates registered for the conference, inclusive of virtual delegates. It was for the above reason that we increased the capacity to 13,000 while also making adequate arrangements for virtual delegates to enjoy a similar experience from the comfort of their homes or offices.
7. As noted above, we anticipated an increase in the number of delegates that would be interested in physically attending this year’s conference due to a number of factors including perhaps the positive record and members-oriented programmes of the Olumide Akpata administration, the reduction of the conference fees, and the exciting line up of sessions and events for this year’s NBA-AGC. With the benefit of hindsight, I have to now admit that despite our most optimistic projections, we did not anticipate the huge spike in the figures.
8. For the 2019 NBA-AGC, by the end of the early bird registration window, which factored in a 1-week extension, 9,796 delegates had registered for the conference. For the 2021 NBA-AGC, this figure was 8,686 delegates also with a 1-week extension. However, by midnight on Monday 18th July 2022, after the early bird registration window closed, a total of 10,877 delegates had registered for the conference. Put differently, with a month to the conference, we have already exceeded the total number of delegates for the 2021 NBA-AGC. The numbers continue to rise notwithstanding the close of the early bird registration window.
9. The above numbers have not factored in the number of registration slots that we must of necessity allocate to our resource persons; our sponsors as part of the sponsorship package we already advertised and are duty bound to deliver; as well as our colleagues who are legal officers in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of governments whose registration are usually delayed by the bureaucratic bottle-neck for which our various governments are notorious.
10. It is in light of the foregoing, dear colleagues, that it became impossible to extend the early bird registration window. Further and regrettably, there is serious likelihood that we might soon be constrained to close all registration outright as the conference spaces are almost oversubscribed. Consequently, while we are not oblivious to the harsh economic climate that pervades the country at this time, we must nevertheless call on our members who are desirous of attending the conference physically to endeavour to register for the conference in the coming days. I will endeavour to give one last notice before we hit our maximum capacity for the conference.
11. Nonetheless it is important to restate that we have made adequate arrangements for our members to take advantage of a virtual option and also enjoy a similar experience at the conference. The virtual platform has a capacity to accommodate 30,000 conference delegates and the window to register for the conference through the virtual option remains open until the eve of the conference.
12. In ending, let me once again thank you for your understanding and cooperation and look forward to a memorable 2022 NBA-AGC.