The outgoing President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Paul Usoro, on Wednesday welcomed all delegates to the 60th edition of the Annual General Conference, calling for unity which he said had been the strength of the bar over 60 years.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Usoro is expected to hand over to the new elected president, Olumide Akpata.
The conference, which began under strict observance of social distancing regulations of the federal government, has as its theme: “Step Forward” and is holding both virtually and physically from August 26 to 29 in Lagos and Abuja.
“As a Bar, we must not be divided along ethnic or religious lines; As an association we have survived those things that threatened to divide us and we must continue to abide by same.
“The theme of this year’s conference is a reminder for us to “step forward” after 60 years of conferencing, and face the future.
“Also, we must be able to step forward with rejoicing for surviving the COVID-19 pandemic as many of our colleagues have gone,” he said.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Technical Committee on Conference Planning, (TCCP) Konyisola Ajayi, who also welcomed all delegates, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had affected various aspects of the economy, which also informed the virtual choice for the 2020 AGC.
In his brief remark aired virtually, the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, represented by the Attorney General of the State, Zaccheus Anyakor, noted that the conference, which originally was scheduled to hold in Rivers, was changed over the COVID-19 pandemic.
He, however, underscored the need for all delegates to brace up to the challenge of ensuring that as lawyers, they render services not only for their own interest but for the overall interest of the society.
“It is our belief that the country at large will benefit from this conference and evolve new ideas that will enhance the nation,” he said.
In his remark also aired virtually, the governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, commended the leadership of the NBA for the successes over the years.
He said that the virtual conference is a reminder of the times we find ourselves mainly characterised by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I congratulate the outgoing executives of the NBA for a successful completion of their tenure.
“According to the TCCP, the theme of the conference is a reflection of what has happened in the past years, and what we hope to achieve in the coming years.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives and this conference is not an exception; the pandemic has also seen the emergence of virtual court sittings” he said.
As a pointer to the theme “Step forward”, Mr Sanwo-Olu noted that while listening to CNN, it became interesting to note that a solution to the COVID -19 pandemic which had already been adopted by Lagos State about four months ago, is now being mentioned by the U.S.
According to him, more importantly, just as the NBA is older than the country, it is important that it lives up to expectation and takes its rightful position in the society.
“The Lagos State Ministry of Justice is the biggest in the country, and the government will continue to lend support to enable them excel in that profession and provide an enabling environment for them to do well,” he said.
NAN reports that the NBA 2020 AGC has over 22,000 registered delegates.
Physical attendance at the Conference is holding at both the Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos, as well as the NBA Headquarters in Abuja, with not more than 30 persons allowed at the venue.
The conference is to showcase over 28 law sessions to be anchored by renowned Nigerian legal practitioners.