The Tenure Report of the Outgoing President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud, OON, SAN, FCIArb, from2016-2018, has finally been published by the office of the NBA President (OPNBA) and made available to the Nigerian Legal Community.
In a thirty seven (37) pages report made available to TheNigerialawyer (TNL), which covered all plans and achievements of the past administration, Mr. Mahmoud in a forward written and signed under his own hand, stated the keen steps taken by him to restore the Nigerian legal profession to its core values, ethics, courage and professionalism. As highlighted in his mission statement two years ago, he said that he offered himself to lead the legal profession in Nigeria, to reinvent itself to regain the trust of the Nigerian people, as the crisis of confidence between the Nigerian people and the legal profession has continued to deepen in recent times. To him, a fiercely independent Bar built on the timeless values of integrity, candor and service for which the profession is known is the way forward, hence, the idea behind the administration’s tenure initiatives.
“For the last two years, I have had the extraordinary privilege of leading our Association. We came in with a vision and an ambitious program to restore the Nigerian legal profession to its core values, ethics, courage and professionalism and reconnect the profession to the Nigerian people and coined the euphemistic phrase #ABraveNewBar.
“We quickly developed a three year Strategic Plan to guide our programs and activities with clear objectives. The Plan sets out the path and mechanics of achieving our vision.
“These were crafted around what we termed the 3 R’s and a P, standing for Regulation of the legal profession, Representation of our member’s interests, Re-engineering the Bar Association and our Public interest engagements focused on promoting access to justice, protection of human rights, judicial and legal reforms and promoting good governance,” he said.
The Report shows that the Office of the NBA President developed the NBA Strategic Plan (2016-2019) which aimed to provide short to medium-term strategic direction and to enable the Association effectively serve its members, stakeholders, partners and Nigerian citizens.
The learnt silk had also boasted of the Legal Profession Regulation Bill which is currently at the exposure Stage, as one of its achievement. The Bill is intended to overhaul the Legal Profession Regulation framework and usher in an entirely new regulatory system of the profession.
As an addendum, the NBA at the National Executive Committee Meeting held in Aba, Abia State on 2nd March 2017, unanimously approved the establishment of an Office of the Registrar of Discipline, further to the Association’s regulatory powers under the Legal Practitioners Act 1975 and the Legal Practitioners (Disciplinary Committee) Rules 1965 for the receipt, assessment, investigation and establishment of a prima facie case against any legal practitioner in Nigeria.
Also, the administration has boasted of improving the e-learning system at the bar with the institution of the NBA E-Learning Management System which to him, yielded positive results for the bar. The statement reads:
In response to the need for capacity development of Nigerian Lawyers in emerging areas of law, and poor use of legal technology and innovations for our members, the NBA introduced the ‘Digital Bar Initiative’ in 2017, which provided technological tools that enabled Nigerian lawyers to access continuing legal education and professional development. These products include over 11,000 Tablets Computers, which were distributed to lawyers across Nigeria ahead of the 2017 Annual General Conference, all pre-loaded with Legal Research and Practice Management software. The NBA also provided its members across the world with an opportunity to view the 2017 and 2018 Annual General Conferences live on a dedicated DSTV Channel. This enabled at least 90% of NBA members unable to attend the conference, to benefit from the knowledge and expertise shared by leading experts who discussed topics related to the Conference themes. The Conferences were also streamed live on the NBA Conference website.
Furthermore, the report reveals Mahmoud’s record of the mentorship of young lawyers and law students, NBA national pro bono scheme, and achievements in criminal justice reforms, which include among others the move to actualize the adoption of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act in almost all states of the Federation. More on the list are the numbers of appointments and recommended nominations of members and representatives of the NBA into the following standing Adhoc committees and statutory bodies, such as NBA strategic planning steering committee, legal profession regulation review committee, NBA task force on the Niger-Delta, NBA young lawyers forum, etc.
Moreso, are the ground breaking partnerships entered into. As shown, NBA under his leadership partnered with the John. T. and Catherine. D. MacArthur which lead to the award ofa $1,800,000 Grant to the Association in October 2017. Also on the list of partnerships are the Memorandum of Understanding between the NBA and the ShehuMusa Yar’Adua Foundation on the E Justice Monitoring Application in February 2017, and the Memorandum of Understanding with the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales on advocacy trainings in February 2017, among others.
The Report reads that to ensure that the NBA fulfills its responsibility for overseeing the Mandatory Continuing Professional Development Programme for all legal Practitioners in Nigeria through the NBA Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE), pursuant to section 11 and 12 of the Rules of Professional Conduct2007, the NBA with support from the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation commenced the development of the e-learning management system for the provision of the E-Learning courses and materials to all Nigerian Lawyers.
In brief, the forward of the report summarized the achievements which imply a good grade on a scorecard if distributed to bar men.
“The Chief Anthony Idigbe SAN Committee undertook a major review of the regulatory architecture of the legal profession which seeks to prepare the legal profession for the modernization of its regulatory framework, to enable it confronts some of the major dynamics and modern trends challenging the old paradigms and precepts on which the Nigerian legal profession has been built. The Committee comprising some of the brightest legal minds with diverse composition of young and older members, women, academics and practitioners, locally qualified members as well as foreign qualified, worked with the support of our members in the Diaspora notably the British Nigeria Law Forum, to produce a very robust report including anew draft Legal Profession Regulation Bill.
“KPMG Professional Services reviewed the financial processes and governance structures and systems benchmarking the NBA against other Bar Associations worldwide. The Mallam Yusuf Ali SAN Committee along with the National Officers tried to craft the KPMG Report recommendations, to propose new governance framework captured in new constitutional proposals that will in the long term address major flaws in our governance, not least a very rancorous and disruptive succession system that threatens to turn the NBA into a perpetual electioneering machine with only one value proposition to our younger members: be part of the NBA political machine!
“Our public interest engagements have reconnected our Association to the ordinary Nigerian citizens, whether in Southern Kaduna, the North East, the Niger–Delta or Zamfara in the North West. Working with our partners: the Bar Council Human Rights Committee, the Niger Delta Development Commission, National Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, the Legal Aid Council, the John. T. and Catherine. D. MacArthur Foundation, ROLE UK, the Aliko Dangote Foundation and other partners, we have been able to deliver useful services, improve access to justice to victims and communities in conflict areas, impacting on the lives of ordinary Nigerians.
“It is my hope that the incoming administration will be able to take this journey forward, build on our various regulatory and institutional reform initiatives and programs, consolidate our international partnerships and strengthen the bar and the legal profession in our dear country,” it read.
However, an independent record generated by TNL seems to conflict the Mahmoud’s confidence displayed in the OPNBA Report. In an opinion poll conducted by TheNigerialawyer (TNL), over the performance of the outgoing president, lawyers have found that A.B. Mahmoud, SAN’s led administration underperformed. The result of the poll had shown that a total of five thousand seven hundred (5700) lawyers voted, of which only 5% voted for, saying that the outgoing president performed up to expectations, while a humping number of five thousand, four hundred and fourteen persons voted against (5415). This shows that only 285 voted for.
Did Outgoing A.B. Mahmoud SAN Led Administration Perform Up To Expectations?YesNoVoteResults
Recall that the poll had been conducted taking into consideration the promises made by the A.B. Mahmoud, SAN’ during the past election. The yardstick as affirmed in the write up introducing the poll is to what extent the promises made has been actualized.
Nonetheless, the initiatives in the OPNBA publication of August, 2018 indicate that in compliment of the strategic plan is a Strategic Plan Transitional Review which according to it is to ensure a seamless transition of the Association’s leadership and institutional continuity.
As shown, the NBA President has already commenced the transitional review process on the 2016-2019 Strategic Plan with the incoming President of the NBA in August 2018.
The transition Committee comprises of 11 members representing the incoming administration and 5 members of the outgoing administration tasked with the responsibility of collaborating on providing hand-over briefings to the incoming administration and reviewing the agenda of the outgoing administration.
Click here to download Tenure Report Release by Office of the NBA President