Law News
Members will benefit from NBA Insurance scheme — Okeke

AS a former branch chairman, what do you consider the greatest challenge in branch administration in the country? Basically, upon taking office, a lot of people, members will feel that there are some economic gains to be made. But actually, there are not because you basically accept a position of leadership, a position where all you need to do is to protect the interest of your members. So, it is a question of selfless service to the people and the Bar. And when there is an issue in the branch, you begin to run from here to there and from pillar to post. You attend branch meetings, National Executive Committee, NEC, meetings among others and your private business will always suffer. But because you are at the helm of affairs in the branch, you don’t have an option other than to show leadership. It has really nothing to do with economic gains, but a lot people don’t see it that way but for me that is one of the problems you normally have with members who do not understand the actual workings of the leadership of the Bar at the branch level. What are your expectations from the Augustine Alegeh, SAN, leadership of the NBA? My expectations are very high indeed, I have always known Mr. Alegeh as a man of his words, I sincerely believed in his manifesto during the campaigns. If you recall, during the campaigns, he was called a stranger to the Bar, so I always teased him whenever he wanted to do something to do it like a stranger, to show that he is not that orthodox NBA politician that is bound by the way others had done it. This is a new era and you can see it manifested in his inauguration speech. He has made a lot of changes within this short time and by time he spends two years in the office, the NBA is going to see a complete revolution to the advantage of the members of the Bar. Given the performance of the immediate past leadership of the NBA, how do you think this administration can connect members back to their association with maximum benefit to Nigerian lawyers? The President will always say that the Okada riders have a union and the first reason for their coming together is their welfare. If one of them dies, there is a contribution made by other Okada riders within the association to make sure that the corpse is sent home. What has the NBA done for its members, practicing fees are expectedly paid by every lawyer, a lawyer in Lagos who probably has the advantage of charging high fees pays the same practicing fees with a member who probably practises in another state where he may not have the advantage to charge such fees but at the end of the day, nobody actually gets the benefits for actually paying those fees, but with the Insurance scheme introduced by Augustine Alegeh, for once, members are going to have something in return for the practicing fees they pay and that is a plus for us, that is wonderful and is the kind of thing we expect from an association we have as members. Mr Alegeh, SAN, announced in his inaugural speech that one of his major focus is to reform the NBA electoral process. What is your reaction to this? It is indeed a wonderful development in view of the fact that it is extremely difficult now to contest for the office of the NBA President. Remember what I said before about traversing the entire 109 branches of the association in the name of campaign, then you will appreciate the fact that e-voting is an absolute solution if done well. This is because it will remove a lot of the risks, including that of travelling and money involved, it will indeed be a wonderful development and if we start it with the branches, by 2016 when another election will come, almost everybody will be used to the e-voting system and as lawyers, we will albe able to lead the society in this kind of reforms. We shouldn’t be going backwards, electoral reforms, if it comes from us, then the lager society and other organisations will learn from us. If all these other organisations are able to learn from what the NBA has successfully done, then Nigeria will be a better place for it. The President announced a significant reduction in conference fees during his tenure, how do you think this will impact our conferences positively? Yes the President announced that there are a lot of corporate bodies that are willing to sponsor the NBA programmes, so it is really going to affect whatever conferences that may be run by the NBA. If these organisations have an understanding with the NBA and they are able to come up with good packages to run the conferences and sponsoring of the conferences, I don’t think that these reduction in conference fees will be an obligation on the part of members.


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