In a little over one year since the Olumide Akpata-led National Executives of the Nigeria Bar Association was inaugurated, there’s a sense of unanimity within the Bar, of the Administration’s various interventions aimed at repositioning the Bar, to its full stature. For a man whose audacity to aspire to lead the Bar was questioned by too many a critic, in the period leading to the historic election, it is gratifying that Olumide Akpata has arguably exceeded the expectations of members, and have restored hope and confidence, where doubt and disillusionment once thrived.
While some Lawyers; obviously in the minority, still beg to be proved beyond reasonable doubt of the giant strides of the Administration though, suffice it, to articulate, brevi manu some of these unprecedented interventions which is borne out of Olumide Akpata’s promise to leave the Bar much better than he met it on the night of his inauguration. I’m particularly concerned here with the aspects of his program relating to the welfare of members.
In my capacity as the Secretary of the Welfare Committee of the Association, ably led by the indefatigable Y.C Maikyau, SAN, I have had the privilege of being involved in the very tedious and arduous processes that have crystalised into a basket of welfaristic program, and should know.
Apparently guided by his “Making the Bar Work for All” vision, it is safe to say that Olumide Akpata has been burning both ends of the proverbial candle in delivering the popular mandate of Nigerian lawyers so much so that Nigerian Lawyers can now boast that the Association is alas, working for them.
From the fulfillment of his promise of two free pack of stamps to every financial member; to the health insurance package with Leadway Assurance which saw an increment of One Million to Two Million Naira to beneficiaries of deceased colleagues; to the ground breaking partnership with the National Health Insurance Scheme; the rejigging of the institute of continuing Legal Education to keep the list short, Olumide Akpata’s implicit commitment in the welfare of all category of lawyers within the Bar, is unassailable.
As laudable as these initiatives are, however, there’s a great concern around how many Lawyers have availed themselves of the opportunities inherent in some of them. A rather disturbing case of such apathy is the Law Pavilion-NBA partnership that is geared at providing legal resources to members in one suite, at incredibly affordable rates. This much, came to the fore, at the recently held Young Lawyers Summit in Ogun State, where yours Truly, had the privilege of addressing the audience on the diverse welfare program of the Olumide Akpata-led NBA.
It is indeed imperative I state that the recently concluded Young Lawyers Summit can be ranked as one of the most successful summit in recent times.
It may be recalled that the NBA recently entered into a highly negotiated partnership with Law Pavilion; the leading tech-driven legal solutions company to provide access to legal resources to various categories of legal practitioners in Nigeria through its Primsol app. The Primsol app, is a web-based legal archive which aggregates all Law Pavilion Legal contents and also gives access to external contents in the form of texts and journals that allows for a robust research experience within the legal system in Nigeria.
Courtesy of that partnership, all members of the Association who are between 1 to 7 years post-call (“Young Lawyers”) who had paid their bar practicing fees on or before 31st March 2021, will enjoy free access to primsol Law Pavilion Legal Search engine for one year while members of the Association from 8 years post-call and above who paid their Bar practicing fees on or before 31st of March 2021 will enjoy highly discounted subscription for one year.
There is however indications that the full benefit of this partnership have not been explored by members. This revelation came to light during the technical session on the Law Pavilion/Primsol partnership during the just concluded Young Lawyers Summit.
A situation where only about 7,942 Lawyers is said to have on-boarded as at 4th of October, 2021 certainly leaves much to be desired.
For a partnership billed to lapse on the 6th of October, 2022 the collective need to latch onto the opportunities provided by same, cannot be overemphasized. The place of research and learning in the work of any lawyer cannot be overstated. Indeed, a lawyer is as good as how much he is able to find the Law and deploy it in the interest of his/her client.
While we can expect even more value-adding welferistic programs from the Olumide Akpata-led NBA, within the remainder of its term, Lawyers; particularly young Lawyers cannot afford to isolate themselves from the huge benefits inherent in the various welfare undertakings made by the Administration. It does not only encourage it to explore more options of membership-reward, it drives the Association closer to Its commitment to its members and society at large.
Ogaga Emoghwanre, Esq
Secretary, NBA National Welfare Committee.