In ordinary parlance and within the Nigerian legal community, a bar man is a lawyer, whether in practice or not, that has consistently been participating in the activities of our noble Association – the Nigerian Bar Association (“the NBA”). For all intent and purposes, a bar man in this context is completely different from a regular bar man who discharges the responsibilities of a bartender. Typically, the significant features of a bar man in the NBA include but not limited to attending bar meetings and taking parts in other activities of the NBA; paying bar practice fees and branch dues regularly; attending NBA Conferences; and serving and supporting the Association when called upon.
Undoubtedly, Mrs. Joyce Oduah epitomizes all the fine qualities of a bar man. She is a bar man whose immense contributions and services to the NBA, whether at the branch or national level, have repositioned the Association as a force to reckon with. For many decades, she has been committed to the activities of the NBA and has served the NBA in various capacities altruistically. Indeed, her valuable ideas and contributions during her tenure have transformed the NBA prominently. For starters, Mrs. Oduah is a member of the NBA and also International Bar Association. She was the 1st Assistant Secretary of the NBA, Lagos Branch, from 2000 to 2002. She was also the Publicity Secretary of the Lagos Branch of the NBA from 2007 to 2009. In 2009, she was again elected and inaugurated as the Social Secretary of the Lagos Branch of the NBA, because her laudable services and contributions to the growth of the Branch were deserving of continuance.
Interestingly, as the Publicity Secretary of the NBA, Lagos Branch, she introduced the practice of providing lunch for members during the Branch’s monthly meetings. In addition, she also introduced the provision and cutting of cake in honour of members’ birthdays during monthly meeting. Clearly, these practices increased participation of members in the NBA activities, given that many lawyers began to see the NBA as an association that has the interest of its members at heart. Today, these practices have been adopted and replicated by other NBA Branches across the country.
Since then, Mrs. Oduah has been constantly been appointed into various NBA Committees as either Chairperson, Secretary or Member. For instance, she chaired the Committee to Honour Newly Appointed Life Benchers, Benchers & Newly Elected President of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association 2011. She also chaired the Sub-Committee on Media & Communication for the Lagos Bar Law Week, 2011. She chaired the Committee on Research & Planning for the Lagos Bar Law Week in 2012. She was a Member, Law Week Committee, Lagos Branch from 2007 to 2012. She was also a Member, Bar Dinner Committee of the Lagos Branch from 2007 to 2011. She served as Member, Continuing Legal Education and Mentoring Committee, Lagos Branch from 2017 to 2019. Presently, she is the Secretary of the Welfare Committee NBA Lagos.
At the National level, Mrs. Oduah has served as the National Treasurer of the NBA between 2012 and 2014. She has been a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) under Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN (2008-2010), Okechukwu Wali, SAN (2012 – 2014), Augustine Alegeh, SAN (2014 – 2016) and Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud, SAN (2016–2018). She was a Member, NBA National Secretariat House Fund Raising Committee and a Member of the NBA Finance Committee from 2012 to 2014. She was also a Member of the NBA Technical Committee on Conference Planning (“TCCP”) from 2014 to 2015.
Mrs. Oduah is a bar man who has been very resilient in serving the Bar. Her sterling qualities, selfless service and unwavering interest in transforming the NBA have endeared her to me and thousands of lawyers. Undisputedly, she is a consummate lawyer who can effectively and efficiently manage, organize and transform the NBA National Secretariat for the good of all lawyers.
My name is Tony Igbinoba. I am a legal practitioner writing from Lagos.