1. I am pleased to announce the constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association (“NBA”) Young Lawyers’ Forum (“YLF”) with the following distinguished executive members:
|i||Samuel Tobi Adebowale||Chairman||West|
|ii||Abdulrahman Isa Wasagu||Vice Chairman||North|
|1v||Muhammad Muntasir Adamu||Treasurer||North|
2. I am delighted that these promising young lawyers have accepted to serve as the directing minds of the Forum. A common thread that binds all of them is that they all work in established law practices with principals who, by all standards, qualify as mentors for young lawyers. This selection criterion was deliberate and is borne out of my firm conviction that the emphasis of the YLF, as at date, should be on mentorship of our young lawyers not only in the basic skills of legal practice but even more on the ethics and discipline of the profession.
3. I emphasize “ethics and discipline” amongst other mentorship areas given the seeming breakdown of discipline and ethics in our profession. This breakdown is illustratively evident in the manner we (a) peddle falsehood about each other and our profession; (b) the way we address each other and the courts – orally, in writing, on social media, etc.; (c) in our dressing before the courts; (d) attempts at creating reprehensible and unrequired division and chasm between young and senior lawyers; and (e) in our moral values generally, the degeneration of which shows in the contents of the court processes that we file and, in our conducts, acts and/or inactions both in our private lives and as professionals/legal practitioners.
4. If we must retrieve our declining virtues – in decorum, words and deeds – there must be an all-encompassing reorientation, with commensurate emphasis on both the young and the senior lawyers. It is therefore critical that the issue of ethics and discipline coupled with skills acquisition should be in the front burner of the NBA YLF. That emphasis would move the YLF – both at the National and Branch levels – away from the lure of NBA politics and the tendency to use our young lawyers as cannon fodders therefor. We must consciously insulate our young lawyers from the intoxicating but fatal aroma of NBA politics and its financial inducements and seductions.
5. The seniors have the responsibility to set the tone in this regard and to mentor the young lawyers aright and away from these political entrapments which, if not decently and well handled, have the tendency of eroding and corroding not only the ethics and discipline of our profession but also our moral values generally. I mention these issues because the season of NBA politics is upon us and we must, one and all – including the YLF – set the right pitch from the get-go. Money politics, for example, must not be mentioned amongst us and the YLF – I repeat, at the National and Branch levels – must not serve as the youth wings of NBA political groupings or any
6. We must also do away with the unnecessary and unwholesome divides that pits young and senior lawyers against each other. These divisions are sometimes created, fostered and needlessly accentuated by selfish persons who seek political gains therefrom. We must not let them divide us; we must not allow them to continue sowing these seeds of discord amongst us. The seniors, again, must be exemplary in this regard and must take the lead in showing, both to the young lawyers and the outside world that we are one united and indivisible Bar. We must show that the NBA cannot be broken or divided by politically motivated forces and these include those negative forces within the Bar and those that are external.
7. The principles that I have enunciated in the preceding paragraphs, I daresay, also guided me in selecting the following additional members of the Governing Council who will assist the YLF executive, in an advisory capacity, in running the affairs of the Forum:
|i||Sani Shehu Idris||Member||North|
|ii||Habila Isah Barau||Member||North|
|iii||Uchenna Peter Igwe||Member||East|
|iv||Deborah Ada Okey||Member||East|
|v||Randolph Boma Fiberesima||Member||East|
|vi||Doris Ugochi Patrick||Member||East|
|viii||Motunrayo Promise Omomeji||Member||West|
|ix||Fatima Ayomide Popoola||Member||West|
8. I have spoken with each of these young lawyers – both the executive and the non-executive members of the Governing Council – and they have satisfied me with their understanding of the tasks ahead of them. They have also committed to serve, knowing as they do, that this is entirely and wholly a call to selflessly serve the Bar, without any consideration for material or pecuniary benefits. On behalf of the NBA, I thank them their selflessness in accepting to serve as Council members of the NBA Young Lawyers’ Forum and more importantly, for not looking at any pecuniary rewards for such service.
9. Not entirely light-hearted, I must also mention that some of the members of the Governing Council come from the public Bar and I do look forward to the PPP – Public-Private-Partnership – mixture/spirit/synergy that would evolve from these Council members in the running of our YLF. Finally, on behalf of the National Officers of our Association, we commit to do all that is necessary and required to assist the YLF and its Governing Council in its workings and activities.
Paul Usoro, SAN