The 2018 Annual General Conference of the NBA – Matters Arising By Dan Whisky

It is becoming increasingly difficult to dissuade the thinking of young lawyers that it is an unfortunate thing to be practicing as a young lawyer in this country. The old ought to take care of the young. I repeat those older in the legal profession ought to look out for the comforts of the new in the profession because that is the only simple and pure logic which eventually makes for good business sense for the legal profession in the long run. I mean since the Seniors would not be there forever and a lot of how the young are treated now would be the result we get of a future when they become Seniors and take over the running of the profession.

Let me go straight to the point, why on good Lord earth would Mr. George Etomi led organizing Technical Conference Planning Committee of the Annual General Conference for 2018 (AGC) for a moment think with all their good wisdom and experience agree amongst themselves as a committee that a young lawyer should cough out Eighty Thousand Naira (N80, 000.00) for late payment for a week’s AGC at this time in their lives in this profession, like on what basis or grounds did such agreement come to light?

The young lawyers have not finished murmuring and shouting among themselves about the initial Forty Thousand Naira regular fee for payment of the AGC then you go ahead to say that as late fee payment the fee is Eighty Thousand Naira (N80, 000.00)? The old ought to take care of the young.

If that is not what is called wickedness to a fellow human, then a few things must be really dastardly to be termed wicked. I mean, were there comparative studies as to the gross and net income of young lawyers that led the Planning Committee to the agreement that young lawyers across the states of the Federation could afford that amount conveniently for late payments for the AGC? Why would a Senior lawyer subject a Younger lawyer to such unattainable fee, is it to make a mockery of his financial state or to make him depressed unnecessarily by forcing him to accept the harsh reality of his life that he is not a “full” or “complete lawyer” and thus entitled to attend the AGC? (and nobody should please tell me the AGC is not meant for every lawyer, is the AGC organized for dogs and non lawyers alike?),why should thoughtful and humane care not be afforded or accorded a young lawyer when decisions that affects him are considered by learned seniors? I say again the old ought to take care of the young!

Why would a young lawyer pay over forty percent more than a Magistrate for the same AGC who earns way higher than him? Why should the fees for the young lawyer not be basic and static and affordable and immovable whether early bird, late bird, regular fee or late fee?

When young lawyers are so treated in such unsavory manner would learned really want to expect these same young lawyers to accord “respect’ to learned seniors or elders at the Bar automatically like that or even when they show such respect, would learned seniors honestly think that such respect is genuine? This respect sometimes comes from how “lovely” seniors act towards their juniors especially in times like these.

Respect is earned over time by being courteous, responsible and civil to younger ones, it would only benefit the entire Bar if a symbiotic relationship is maintained and sustained by treating them very well, with sympathy and empathy especially in this excruciating economic situation the country has placed both young and old lawyers alike. This fee, is ultimately not fair, it’s ill timed, it’s not right and definitely does not speak well of the older ones at the Bar who agreed to this. It is not only during elections or election purposes like we have just concluded that young lawyers should be seen as significant.

The young lawyers should not fight this alone, the young lawyers should not even be the voice to voice that this fee be reversed, the older ones for the sake of posterity and the interest of the Bar need to ensure as a matter of urgency that this fee be reversed immediately. A Magistrate should not pay N50, 000.00 and a young lawyer pays N80, 000.00, an older lawyer above 75 years of age should not be made to pay N50, 000.00 and a young lawyer pays N80, 000.00, an Honorable Justice, a Khadi or Grand Khadi should not be made to pay N50, 000.00 and a young lawyer pays N80, 000.00, as the current payment schedule currently depicts, the optics, logic, reasoning behind that kind of forced extortion would only be ludicrous.

Mr. George Etomi, I appeal on behalf of all young lawyers who desire to attend this year’s conference in the name of what is proper to review the current fees with respect to the young lawyer’s category back to the earlier amount it was for his sake, he simply cannot afford it. If for anything but the fact that a lot of these folks need you, your committee and all senior lawyers now more than ever before to help, care and nurture them, towing the line of these fees will only amount to pure exploitation and cast such a harsh impression that you do not care of the fate and lot of these young lawyers or to make them feel unworthy at least or depressed at most of the profession they are still burning with innocent passion, going ahead with this decision will also be too noxious and debilitating to expose their still nascent minds as well having to make them to unfortunately conclude yet again that the NBA and its activities does not cater for their interests.

The old ought to take care of the young. I wish and pray that God in his infinite mercies grants you Mr. Chairman of the Technical Planning Committee of this year’s AGC the good wisdom to hearken to this appeal. Mr. Paul Usoro SAN, now that you have won the race to lead the Bar for the next 2 years, this is an auspicious time and opportunity to lend your voice on the basis of the welfare promised young lawyers during your campaign now more than ever before.

Lastly, if protecting the young has been our priority all the while as an association maybe the following appeal would be unnecessary, in the circumstances however the needful has to be done. All ye older lawyers, SANS, winners at the last Bar elections, myself and other young lawyers are desirous of attending this year’s AGC, some have never attended an AGC before, some already sorted other expenses of the AGC and have their regular fee with them until this sudden hundred percent hike, until Mr. George Etomi listens to our plea, we humbly appeal for your help please, you could contact dan@danwhisky.com or omenadan@gmail.com for your kind assistance. The old ought to take care of the young not out of a feeling that the young is owed that as a right, but because the responsibility of protecting and caring for the welfare of the young cannot be for the same young but the old. All such kind consideration and assistance would be greatly appreciated. Chukra! Danke! Thank you!

Cc: Mr. George Etomi, Chairman TCCP.
Cc: All Learned Senior Advocates of Nigeria.
Cc: All Learned Seniors above 20 years.

  1. Dan Whisky is a legal practitioner based in Lagos Nigeria with transactional experience in multiple facets of law within Nigeria and beyond. He has major interests in international maritime arbitration, general arbitration, oil and gas, mergers and acquisition, antitrust and competition law and the general use of law as a tool to analyze contemporary Nigerian issues. He can be reached via mail at dan@danwhisky.com for your views, comments or inquiries.
 

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