Keeping the Pedal to the Metal
Good day Learned Silks, Life Benchers, Benchers, Distinguished Senior Colleagues and Colleagues. My name is Moshood Abiola, I am a partner in M. B. Abiola & Co, a law firm which I founded in 2013.It gives me great honor and privilege to present to you my manifesto which summarizes the things I aim to do if I am elected as Secretary of the branch.
However, I believe it will be remiss of me not to give an account of what I have done so far as publicity secretary of the branch before I go into my manifesto. It has been an honor to serve as Publicity Secretary of the Premier Branch as part of the current Executive Committee and I am indeed grateful for the opportunity. I will like to use this avenue to put on record my gratitude for the opportunity. Even though I came into office unopposedi, I do not take for granted the confidence reposed in me by members of our branch and the support they have given me so far in the discharge of the huge responsibilities of my office.
As Publicity Secretary, my chief responsibility has been to give wide publicity to the branch activities and to present a positive image of the branch to its members and non-members alike. I knew from the beginning that the key to achieving this was to deploy the power of social media to put the activities of the branch in the eyes of our members and the general public. To do this I started by opening a twitter account for the branch which the branch did not have hitherto. I must say that this almost single handedly has ensured that the Premier Bar and its activities are well publicized and has made more members that previously would not have had any information about the branch have access to such information.
In fact, a good number of lawyers, including new wigs as well as lawyers who wanted to register as members of the branch actually reached out on twitter to have contact information about the branch and how they could become members of the branch. Our twitter handle @nbalagosbranch has been very active and quite a lot of lawyers, law firms, organizations always tag our twitter handle when they tweet. I have also used our now very popular twitter handle to publicize our traditional events including the 2017 and 2018 Annual Bar Dinners, the 2018 law week and our fast approaching 2019 law week as well as notice for our monthly meetings. The far reaching effect of our twitter account in publicizing these activities especially to our members cannot be over-emphasized.
Our branch has over eight thousand members who cannot all be on our WhatsApp platforms but with our twitter account we have been able to reach a lot of them. Apart from twitter, we also have our WhatsApp platforms which I have used in keeping members abreast of information about the branch. The limited number of members that can be on our WhatsApp platform necessitated my creating a telegram account ii which can take ten thousand members. But members have not really warmed up to our telegram platform because it is not as user friendly as the WhatsApp but that notwithstanding we still have a good number of our members on the telegram platform and I make sure that information is disseminated there as well. As publicity secretary and member of the Executive Committee of the branch, my responsibilities and duties can broadly be categorized into two i.e. the individual which I have listed above and the collective that I perform as a group along with other members of the executive committee.
This second part entails working in conjunction with other members of the executive committee to deliver our events as well as our programs to our members. With all sense of responsibility, I must say that I have not been found wanting in this regard. I have since assumption of office attended every executive committee meetings including emergency ones called to address issues iii that required urgent attention and which could not be delayed till our regular executive committee meetings, as well as attending all the monthly meetings of the branch bar one.
I have also served as member of all the planning committees of our two traditional yearly events iv as well as been part of the publicity subcommittees of the planning committees. I have also been a member of the website subcommittee whose work resulted in the birthing of the branch website . As we all know the website is up and running with payment portal for payment of branch dues and payment for registration for our events. vi This is without prejudice to the fact that the capabilities of the website can still be improved upon.
Beyond the specific duties of my office as provided in the Uniform Bye Laws, I have played a key role in the management of the branch football team. vii Immediately the current executive committee members were sworn in to office in July, 2017, the first task facing us was to put up a good performance in the Annual General Conference of that year which was holding in Lagos. I pushed for the participation of the branch in the football competition of the AGC and with the support of the Chairman and other members of the Executive Committee, we registered for the competition. We had a good run in the competition and came close to winning it. viii I coordinated the team, organized trainings in preparation for the competition, completed the necessary paperwork for registration of players and oversaw our participation in the competition. As a footballer myself, I played in a couple of matches ix in the competition before I had pull out from playing so as to focus on coordinating the team. I also played the same key role in the 2018 competition which held in Abuja albeit without the same success of 2017.
It has been an honor and a privilege to work with the current members of the executive committee of the branch particularly the Chairman, Mr. Chukwuka Ikwuazom, x whom I have learnt so much from. The Chairman has been relentless in driving the success achieved so far by this administration and I have played my key role in support. Special mention also goes to the other members of the Executive Committee. x I am very proud to have been part of this team and prouder of what we have been able to achieve.
So as not to be a judge in my own case, I will leave members of our branch to score my performance as same can only be measured from the viewpoint of members who are the recipients of the services rendered by any executive committee member. I hope that I have to the best of my capabilities performed my duties satisfactorily while acknowledging that there is room for improvement.
I will now address the subject of my intention to run as secretary of the branch which if successful with your support will make me the head of the secretariat of the branch. The huge importance of the secretariat of any association or organization cannot be over-emphasized, particularly for an association of lawyers like ours. The secretariat is the life blood, the engine room of any association and this underlines why it has to be well run and manned by a capable, competent, trusted and well experienced person. Our secretariat should be capable of delivering quality services to our members. I believe my time as Publicity Secretary of the Branch and the invaluable experience I have gathered so far stands me in good stead to be in charge the secretariat of our branch. I have the ‘‘insider knowledge’’ which will be crucial in ensuring that the Premier Bar does not fall below the standards already set but instead raise the bar higher. For me it is all about keeping the pedal to the metal and making sure that the standards set by the current administration which I am part of and the huge gains made are not allowed to fall away.
As publicity secretary, I have had cause to work at close quarters with the secretary because the functions of the office of the secretary xii and that of the publicity secretary are intertwined particularly in the areas of notification to members for the monthly meetings as well as other events of the branch. I also worked together with the secretary as member of the website subcommittee. Working with the secretary has made me appreciate the enormous responsibility attached to the office of secretary and I am confident in my ability to discharge same and improve on what has been done so far.
In the time since I made the decision to run for secretary, I have immersed myself in the workings of the secretariat so as to have a firsthand view of the realities on ground. I have interacted more with the staff on ground and I participated in the final stage of the recruitment process of the new administrator. This has led to my identifying the areas where improvements need to be made.
The first area where I think more work needs to be done is as regards the stamp delivery process. The process as it is presently needs to be improved upon to cut out the complaints about it especially as regards to the time it takes and the other logistics. The delay in members getting their stamps has been on the front burner recently and I have had to personally intervene to address the mounting complaints by members. The way the stamp application process works is that members who have paid their practicing fee, branch dues and stamp application fee fill the stamp application form and submit. Once the secretariat receives a good number of applications, it is sent by courier to the National Secretariat in Abuja where it takes around two weeks for the stamps to be produced. Then the stamps are sent to the branch xiii and this is where the real work that takes a large chunk of time is done.
Staff at the secretariat will have to sort out the stamps and type out the names and arrange them alphabetically and a list is printed. It is at this point that members can now check for their stamps. There is a critical need to drastically reduce the time that this process takes. I intend to do this by taking a number of steps. The first step is to liaise with the national secretariat to give special status to stamp applications from our branch because of the large number of our members. I believe that this is achievable with the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN being a member of our branch.
The second step is to find a cost effective method of sending stamp applications to the National secretariat as quickly as they are submitted by members without waiting for the applications to pile up before sending. This can be done on a weekly basis so that the applications don’t spend too long at the secretariat. Thirdly, the sorting process when the stamps are received from Abuja needs to be fast-tracked so that it doesn’t take too much time. I intend to do this by employing either permanently or on ad hoc xiv basis more hands to help in the sorting process. I believe that implementation of these steps will shorten by more than half the current 5-6 weeks’ period of the stamp delivery process.
Another area I intend to address if I am elected as secretary is to ensure that there is a photocopying machine in the secretariat to make photocopies of required documents at no cost to members of the branch who come to the branch secretariat to submit copies of their practicing fee and branch dues tellers and submit their stamp applications. This will mean that members will no longer have to go back and forth to make copies of documents they need to submit when they come to the branch. This will be the branch’s little way of easing the stress our members go through and showing appreciation for the commitment and loyalty of our members to the branch.
The third area I wish to address is to ensure a regularly updated members’ directory that is easily accessible both on the website of the branch and at the secretariat of the branch. This process has already commenced with our website which is now up and running and it will be improved upon. In addition to this, every member of the branch will get an identity card at the beginning of each year upon payment of his or her branch dues at no additional cost. This is an idea that I have put a lot of thought into and I believe it will help in identifying our members as legal practitioners anywhere they find themselves.
To round things up, I promise to ensure that the secretariat is well run and it meets the needs of our members. As secretary I will be available to entertain any complaints that members have and find quick solutions to them. I shall ensure that staff of the secretariat as well as the Assistant Secretary are alive to their responsibilities and perform same to the satisfaction of our members.
I have a few other ideas that I will be implementing if elected as secretary and I intend to work with anybody who emerges as chairman as well as other members of the executive committee to make sure that all that I have said above are implemented as soon as possible. I am under no illusions that all these will be achieved easily but I believe that they are things that can be done especially by our status as the Premier Bar.
Therefore, I seek your support and votes to be the nest Secretary of the Branch so that all the above and more can be implemented and we can continue to maintain our premier status amongst the NBA branches in the country.
Moshood Abiola LLB, BL, LLM.
M. B. ABIOLA & CO
i. Although I only became unopposed a few days to the election which meant I had been on the campaign trail soliciting for votes until close to the elections.
iii. There have been two emergency meetings of the executive committee, the first was to address the then critically urgent issue of compiling and sending names and details of our members to the NBA National secretariat at Abuja in the run up to the last NBA national elections in 2018 while the second was to address the then pending issue of the new Lagos rules. both meetings held on a weekend.
iv. The 2017 and 2018 annual bar dinner planning committee, the 2018 law week planning committee and currently the 2019 law week planning committee.
vi. Currently payment for registration for the upcoming 2019 law week is ongoing on the website.
vii. The Premier Bar FC
viii. We lost by a lone goal in the final to the Onitsha branch who also defeated us in the 2018 Competition held in Abuja. Onitsha Branch football team has become a stumbling block to our team in this competition but we are hopeful that we will defeat them if we meet again in the 2019 competition.
ix. Memorably in our first match where we thrashed the noisy ikeja branch 3-0.
x. The Chairman, Mr. Chukwuka Ikwuazom has brought inspiring leadership to the executive committee and the branch.
xi. Mrs. Bolatumi Animashaun – Vice Chairman; Mr. Ikechukwu Uwanna – Secretary; Joy O. Uzoeghelu Nzube (Mrs.) – Treasurer; Carol Obi (Mrs.) – Financial Secretary; My very good friend Uchenna Nwadialo – Social Secretary; Nkechi Nnajiofor (Mrs.) – Welfare Secretary; Jeffery I. Eboh – Legal Adviser; Emmanuel I. Orhoro – Provost; George Ukwuoma – Asst. Secretary; Mr. Tobenna Erojikwe – Co-Opted who also doubles as the Chairman of the excellent Continuing Legal Education Committee; Foluke Akinmoladun – Co- Opted; Olushola Abiloye – Co-Opted;Chinenye Oragwu (Mrs.) – Co-Opted.
xii. Mr. Ikechukwu Uwanna has performed excellently as secretary ably supported by Mr. George Ukwuoma, the assistant secretary and it has been a pleasure to work with them.
xiii. The stamp applications that have been queried for one reason or the other are also sent back and the secretariat will call members who submitted those applications to come and address the query.
xiv. If employing permanently will be a huge cost burden on the finances of the branch.