THE RARE VISION OF UCHENNA NWADIALO FOR THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION [NBA] NATIONAL SECRETARIAT

COMMON GROUND – THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION [NBA]

Nigerian Bar Association, the umbrella body of all lawyers admitted to the Nigerian Bar is the largest body of lawyers in West Africa being made up of [125] branches, [3] professional sections, [2] specialized institutes and [6] practice-cadre forums.

The affair of this exalted body is managed at its National Secretariat, in Abuja. Its organizational structure comprises a National Executive Committee, National Officers/ Management Board, Sections, forums, committees, Working Groups and a National Secretariat .The association of this magnitude coupled with a National secretariat of such huge workforce requires a state-of the-art, info-tech compliant National secretariat.

Whist applauding the tremendous reforms in the operations of the NBA Secretariat by the present administration, more work can still be done, to engender efficiency in the operations of the NBA secretariat, strengthen the NBA as an institution, and professionalize the secretariat for effective and efficient service delivery so as to bridge the invisible gap between members and the National secretariat.

All these can be achieved by a creative, innovative, proactive, techno-oriented mind, who can think outside the box and assist the association’s Chief Administrative officer to proffer solutions to issues related with the ‘secretariat services’ and creating a synergy between all the named departments of the National secretariat.

Consequently, after a very deep reflection, I have decided to step forward, as I, with utmost humility seek your support, offering myself as that tech-oriented mind with an uncommon vision to serve as the association’s ‘NATIONAL ASSISTANT SECRETARY’; as such to cause an advancement of our of National Secretariat, add value to the legal profession; whilst still promoting the principles of rule of law and strict adherence to the fundamental rights of all.

The main duty of the NBA Assistant Secretary is to assist the General Secretary in the performance of the constitution outlined duties and when circumstances demand act in its place. Consequently, an Aspirant to the office of Assistant Secretary must be versatile, vibrant and capable of steering the affairs of the national secretariat in the absence of the General Secretary to guarantee that a vacuum is never created whilst the day-to-day running of affairs goes on.

It is imperative to change the way of doing business at the National Secretariat by embracing the various options technology can offer both in terms of communicating with national officers; disseminating information to the branches, interacting with members and the public at large.

For me service in its general term is key; availability to support the General Secretary and the President on all tasks assigned is vital for smooth administration of the National Secretariat. I am available to support infrastructure development and service delivery at the national secretariat at all times, there by gaining the confidence of members in the NBA.

It is my vision to serve with might and strength, courage and conviction, so that our secretariat does not lose its relevance but rather become the admiration of all other Associations.

Although Rome was not built in a day, the covid-19 pandemic we must accept has fast tracked what information technology (IT) developers envisaged a long time ago.

UNCOMMON – VISION OF UCHENNA

The agenda outlined hereunder are borne out of deep thinking and candid assessment of the urgent need to further enhance and cause efficient service delivery to members whilst protecting the dignity of the legal profession on one hand and ensuring the smooth running of the day-to-day activities of the NBA National Secretariat on the other hand, by utilizing my capabilities and ingenuity to assist the General Secretary in the performance of the herculean task of running the NBA secretariat or better put, reduce the workload of the General Secretary by 40% percent.

To help redefine the future of our great association, I believe I can effectively support the office of the General Secretary as an Assistant Secretary. I have always been of the firm believe that one cannot support an idea or role that he or she knows very little about. By virtue of my previous leadership roles in our association and very many other associations that I have been privileged to serve, I know the functions of the office of the General Secretary.

WHO IS A GENERAL SECRETARY
The General Secretary is the person in charge and administers the day-to-day activities of an organization. He or she acts as an ambassador of the organisation and its chief administrative officer.

FUNCTIONS OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL
The functions of the General Secretary is provided for in Section 8[5] e of the NBA constitution 2015 [as amended].

WHO THEN IS AN ASSISTANT SECRETARY
The Assistant Secretary can be likened to the principal adviser of the General Secretary, in all matters relating to the personnel policies of the Secretariat.

FUNCTIONS OF THE ASSISTANT GENERAL SECRETARY
Succinctly Section 8[5] fof the NBA constitution 2015 [as amended], provides for the functions of the office of the Assistant Secretary are as follows;

ASSISTANT SECRETARY

[i] He/She shall assist the General Secretary in the performance of his/her duties and shall in the absence of the General Secretary act in his/her place;

[ii] He/She shall perform all other duties as may be assigned to him/her by the President, the General Secretary, the National Executive Committee or the Annual General Meeting.

UCHENNA AND THE OFFICE OF ASSISTANT SECRETARY

As a team player in the quest for a more vibrant NBA, I can assist the General Secretary in taking charge of the National Secretariat. Looking at the functions of the General Secretary, below is my vision.

COMMON-GROUND
UNCOMMON–VISION

‘My Uncommon-Vision’

I – SECRETARIAT

To help redefine the future of our great Association, I believe I can effectively support the General Secretary with the enormous task of running the affairs of the National Secretariat which most definitely requires a capable, innovative, visionary, resourceful and result-oriented assistant.

There is no doubt that the world has gone digital, the NBA National Secretariat should not be left out in the globalization, particularly with the emergence of the dreaded Covid-19 pandemic which is the defining global health crisis of our time and one of the greatest challenges the world has faced since world war II, countries are competing to slow the spread of the virus by limiting travels, cancelling large gatherings etc.

The NBA has also keyed into this, the Technical Committee on Conference Planning and even the Section on Business law have both proposed virtual Annual General Conferences , especially that of the NBA in celebration of its 60th year anniversary festivity.

This is as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, this is the new normal, our association has embraced it, and the Secretariat must equally embrace the extant Covid-19 and post-Covid-19 era and consider same in the transmission and dissemination of information amongst all members.

Technology has its remarkable and numerous benefits which if fully taken advantage of by goal-oriented groups, through info-tech oriented officers, will yield positive results.

  1. ACTIVATING THE NBA BLOG-SPOT

It is quite surprising, how lawyers now have to rely heavily on the numerous legal online-bloggers for the dissemination of legal, judicial and even our association’s information. The National Secretariat of the association itself, its various fora, numerous branches, several committees now trust greatly on the services of these online bloggers to have their information conveyed to her members, hence they have become part of the NBA system.

We must give it to all the online bloggers for a job well done, keeping us abreast with the news of our association, its 125 branches, sections and committees etc. However, It is now time for the NBA to be the proper channel for the dissemination of vital information and details on branch activities, section activities, conferences, election related matters et al that would reach members fast, and first from the heart of the NBA Secretariat through its official NBA BlogSpot. These information can also be accessed by bloggers for publication on various platform of theirs.

Sensitive information should get to members on time, every time at the speed of lightening first from its official online blog. This will be achieved not by creating a new and independent official website for this sole purpose, but by creating, or putting into active use, a Blog section on the NBA official website.

If elected as Assistant General Secretary, I will in agreement with the General Secretary canvass for the activation of the Official NBA Blog-spot [ONB], which will boost the image of the association, create job for young lawyers as content creators and also generate income for the association from paid advert.

  1. NBA MOBILE APPLICATION
    [Secretariat in Your Pocket]

In a bid to deliver better services to her members, individual satisfaction should be a top priority for any association worth its salt and technology thus makes this much easier.

The rise of technological development, represents a wide trend in the expertise landscape; many technological advancements are being tailored narrowly to suit the needs of specific purposes. If elected Assistant General Secretary, I will support the General Secretary to restore the confidence of our members in the National Secretariat and its abilities to deliver when it matters.

There is no gainsaying that an association must strive to always keep her members satisfied, therefore there is the need to clasp technology that will enhance modernity. I therefore propose that if elected Assistant General Secretary, with your agreement, I will advocate for the development of an ‘OFFICIAL NBA MOBILE APP’, the app will serve as an abridged version of the National Secretariat; there by availing members the opportunity to own the secretariat by having the secretariat in their pocket. It will be living the new order, where members can interface virtually with the secretariat, access the major deliverables of the national secretariat digitally from their comforts.

An application that can be downloaded by android users on play store and IOS users on apple store; will be breaking the norm, creating an interface, a bond, establishing a relationship between lawyers, members of the association, branches, Judiciary, Judicial officers and the national secretariat. It will bridge the invisible gap between the members and the national secretariat.

The World has gone global and digital, thus NBA, its secretariat and her 125 branches can become one global village by virtue of technology. I bring to the table technological advancements if you elect me as your Assistant General Secretary. If we can conclude banking transactions, pay bills, subscriptions on the go on time, every time, anytime then why can’t we resolve some of our secretariat needs by the introduction of an NBA mobile application servicing its members.

If elected; I will crave for the development of the NBA mobile Application, it is the least the NBA can do as an association; government agencies such as Corporate Affairs Commission [CAC], Nigerian Immigration Services, National Identity Management Commission [NIMC], Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps [NSCDC] and Nigerian Custom Service [NCS] etc all have mobile app, up and running.

2.1 UNVELING THE NBA MOBILE APP
[One Click, Multiple- Access]

With the NBA mobile App, each member can create a personal profile/portal, a replica of what presently exits on the website; current features of the website can also be on the app. New features such as NBA Job vacancy alerts/notification; know your NBA branches; I-Witness feature; Report-It feature, Call anniversaries; Stamp application, track your stamp feature; letter of good standing application, career progression, CLE notifications, NEC, EXCO and Annual General Meeting [AGM] notifications etc.

Elect me, I will assist the General Secretary in transforming the Secretariat. We move a step ahead by advocating for the development of an NBA mobile App that will act as an interface between the members, the national secretariat and national executive.

2.1.1 AGC/SECTION CONFERENCES

Sections, Committees of the NBA would all have portfolios on the app, and as such can use that medium to notify members of all their numerous activities with the help of the application.

2.1.2 NBA JOB ALERT
[Job Creation]

The mobile app can also assist with job creation via notifications and alerts. If elected Assistant Secretary, I will open up a conversation with the General Secretary to engage legal departments of Government agencies, firms and private organizations to avail the association with job opportunities or vacancies for our members.

I will advocate for the creation of an online career services portal, to prompt members about available jobs; assist lawyers seeking jobs or new challenges and as such, openings by prospective employers, will be advertised for the benefit of members on all the available NBA online portals with a direct application link attached to such advertised openings.

2.1.3 NBA CURRICULUM VITAE BANK
[NBA C.V Bank]

I will if elected, I will canvass for the creation of a portfolio, of Curriculum Vitae [CV] of members, which would be termed ‘NBA C.V Bank’ both on the mobile app and on the association’s website, where duly verified and qualified lawyers who have paid their BPF & Local dues can upload their C.V’s for easy reach by law firms, Government Agencies and Multi-National Companies, particularly lawyers with specialized legal career path in line with the modern trends of globalization in the legal practice.

I will likewise open discussions with the General Secretary on the idea of a “Pro-Bono Trust Fund” wherein, lawyers not gainfully employed, could get stipend for pro-bono cases taken up on behalf of the association.

2.1.4 MEMBERS WELFARE
[
I-Witness Account]

Members of the national executive can’t always be everywhere, but I offer you what I tag ‘I-Witness Account’, where videos and photographs of incidences witnessed by members and is news worthy could be brought to the attention of the national executive, by a click and upload on the NBA mobile Application. This is another way the association would be seen to care for her members and know them person to person, whilst making use of technology.

2.1.5 REPORT-IT
[Sexual Harassment/Rape Cases]

If elected, I will canvass for the inclusion of a complaint channel on issues of sexual harassment, rape etc, where it involves our members [women especially], on the mobile app. This will enable victims report cases of this nature to the NBA, even as the identity of the victims remain confidential. This novelty will avail victims the opportunity to report their cases with appropriate follow up action.

2.1.6 CHANGE OF NAME
[Maiden – Married]

Elect me, and I will campaign for a seamless means of name change. We will liaise with the Supreme court to ensure a simple and easy process of change of name of our female lawyers on the roll of legal practitioners. A portal will be created in the mobile app for the application and submission of documents.
We understand that this is a great concern to female lawyers especially those affected by change of marital status.

2.1.7 CIRCULARS/NOTIFICATIONS

I will assist the General Secretary with the prompt issuance of circulars, meeting notifications, dispatch of circulars, resolutions, letters, and other correspondences of the Association as well as provision of on time responses to circulars that require the attention of the General Secretary; hence official circulars and notifications from the General Secretary and the Secretariat can now be disseminated to members first hand via the NBA Mobile App.
I will propose this if you elect me your Assistant Secretary by using technology to achieve our desired NBA National Secretariat; it is achievable, let us build a secretariat of our dreams.

2.1.8 THE NBA LAWYERS

We are first off lawyers, either litigators, public lawyers or in-house counsels, the NBA is, and should be for all. We all belong to the umbrella body of the NBA; hence when we propose to develop a mobile application for the NBA, the litigators should be carried along.

Where I am elected, I will with the approval of the General Secretary and National Executive advocate for a synergy between the Courts/Judiciary and the Secretariat, thus core litigation tools such as rules, regulations, practice directions, authorities, list of judges, forms and precedents, court directory, emergency numbers etc can be uploaded and made available on the mobile app of the NBA just to aid lawyers and their practice.

2.1.9 CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION

The legal profession has been undergoing gradual fundamental changes across the globe by emerging trends in many spheres of our lives as well as the law practice, these has necessitated the need for lawyers to remain modern in terms of the requisite knowledge and skills necessary to fulfil the ethical responsibilities and obligations of our profession. I believe that enhancing the skills of a lawyer gives him/her a competitive edge, improved functionality and productivity all of which will ultimately improve performance and welfare.

Young lawyers must be properly equipped to tackle issues heads-on, they must be equipped with relevant skills to address the 21st Century legal challenges. If elected, I will advocate that the NBA plays a predominant role in advocating periodic trainings for members at no cost to them. With this, NBA will have been seen as impacting to the life of lawyers in a different way at no cost to the lawyer.

2.1.10 LETTER OF GOOD STANDING

Application of letter of good standing can also be integrated into the NBA mobile App, by this members can apply via the app, submit required documentations via scanning, track the application and receive same digitally without necessarily visiting the Secretariat. The N.B.A would have successfully brought the secretariat closer to her members by this simple step.

2.1.11 PRACTICE LICENCE

With me as your Assistant secretary, I will advocate that we test run, and see the practicability as well as possibility of the issuance of electronic practice licence to our members upon payment and confirmation of payment of Bar Practicing fees before the 31st of March every year, which will be accessed via the NBA Mobile Application.

2.1.12 STAMP AND SEAL

Where I become your Assistant General Secretary, I will open up a conversation with the General Secretary to explore and test-run the practicability and possibility of the issuance of ‘e-digital stamps’, to our members, whilst weighing the cost implication and considering the security features in order to avoid production of fake stamps. These test-run digital stamps could serve as complimentary stamps to members who pay their BPF within the 1st – 10th of January of every year, as a token of appreciation to lawyers.

2.1.13 TRACK YOUR STAMP

It is no news that technology is the new today and all spheres of the economy have to welcome it. The NBA inclusive. One of the major needs and issues of members is the application and issuance of stamps as at when due, I bring to you a feed-back solution.

I am committed to the improvement of the Secretariat, if elected, one of the creative innovations I would propose is the “TRACK YOUR STAMP” feature, upon submission of a stamp application, members should receive an acknowledged notification from the secretariat by email or text message; members should equally have the option of tracking the progress of their stamp application either through the NBA website or mobile app with a log-in on their personal profile.

Whilst lawyers still face the difficulty in the procurement of stamps; delay in its production and delivery, expiration date and the cost; if elected I will work with the General Secretary to proffer lasting solutions to this reoccurring problem and ensure timely delivery of members stamp.

  1. NBA 24 HOUR CONTACT-CENTER
    [Secretariat That Never Sleeps]

If elected, I will advocate for the re-activation of the Secretariat’s 24-hour toll free line and in addition suggest the Installation of a 24-hour automated answering machine for NBA National Secretariat, to be managed by human personal during work hours and transferred to automated answering machine after work hours, Public holidays, weekends and special cases such as the Covid-19 lockdown crisis be available at the NBA National secretariat.
I will suggest this to the General Secretary, when elected.

  1. FEED BACK RESPONSE SYSTEM
    [5-Star Rating]

Elected officers need to be kept in check, a means of rating the performance of the officers is to regularly score them, as a means of self-assessment. I am committed to change; if you elect me your Assistant General Secretary, I will champion “A-5 star rating feedback” mechanism for the secretariat, hence for every successful log-out from the NBA portals; “a 5-star rating notification prompt will pop-up, this will serve as an electronic
self-assessment on the secretariat.

  1. [NBA] – [YLF]
    [Welfare Of Young Lawyers]

The young lawyers are the future of our profession by building an environment and focus through deliberate direction the young lawyer will be better equipped to face the challenges ahead.
One of the contemporary issues in our profession today is the poor welfare package of our young lawyers. This burning issue of welfare of young lawyers and the need for a realistic and remuneration package readily comes to mind. The large numbers of new wigs and young lawyers are not all billed to find employment in top tier paying law firms. It is therefore necessary, that amelioration of living conditions of young lawyers be taken seriously by the NBA at the National level.

If elected Assistant General Secretary, I will join the members of my executive to proffer the most practicable and most suitable solution, push for the need to have an economically realistic minimum wage for young lawyers, that ameliorates the living conditions of young lawyers; given the present economic situation in the Country and in keying into the remuneration recommendation of the minimum wage issued by the Federal Government of payable to those in employment.

I will submit that we will collaborate with stakeholders in the legal profession to review the minimum wage paid to a lawyer who is not just a graduate but a qualified and accredited professional to support his financial provisions to the economic realities and dictates, bring humanity to lawyers, as well as respect and nobility of the legal profession.

6, MEETINGS

I will assist the General Secretary, who is the guardian of the process of meetings in the effective organization, arrangement, planning and delivery of all meetings, [virtual or physical], including AGMs, I will assist to keep formal records of the minutes of the meeting, ensure the success of all meetings; I will assist the General Secretary in the following stages;

BEFORE THE MEETING
 Ensure that the notice of the meeting is given, that suitable accommodation is arranged and confirmed, and that copies of the agenda is prepared;
 Circulate to all members [i]any papers to be discussed at the upcoming meeting and [ii] a copy of the agenda, minutes of the previous meeting;

AT MEETINGS
 Take notes of the meeting, record key points and making sure that all decisions and proposals are recorded.

AFTER MEETINGS
 Prepare a draft of the minutes and consult the General Secretary for approval.

  1. MINUTES

In my candid view there is the urgent need to digitalize the mode and manner of minute taking at the National level for all NBA activities, be it meetings, seminars and conferences etc.

If elected Assistant General Secretary, I will assist the General Secretary towards achieving the digitalization of minutes taking and transcribing minutes into final documents of resolutions of the NBA. I would assist in exploring new era of opportunities in enhancing the minutes taking, recording of minutes, attendance and summary of decisions taken thereto.

As regards dissemination of NEC and AGM Resolutions, I can also assist the General Secretary. The national secretariat is overwhelmed with keeping members informed on the major decisions reached at statutory meetings. Often times, a vast majority of our members do not have access to NEC and AGM resolutions.

The lack of information poses a great challenge in implementing those decisions. Therefore, there is the need to ensure timely dissemination of decisions to members and in addition follow up on the timelines for implementation. I have the answers to the much needed solution.

  1. DIGITAL LIBRARY

If elected, I would campaign for the actualization of a state-of-the-art NBA digital law library professionally managed with modern info-tech application to meet the needs of members, physically and virtually.

I will open up a conversation with the General Secretary to initiate equipping the Secretariat library with up-to-date laws, law reports and law text books on different extents of law thereby assisting both our members and the profession

  1. DATABASE OF MEMBERS

Databank is a principal asset of any organization. A clean and up-to-date database is very important for managing information, by using Database Management System, [DBMS] we would have applied technological solutions to optimize and manage the storage of data of our members, thereby creating and using system software to manage data.

I can assist with this novel innovation, create an accurate database of our members which will in turn drive all the policies and programmes of the National Executive Committee in the next two years. So be it, welfare, remuneration or the general needs of members, an accurate database will resolve almost all the recurrent issues of the association.

I will assist with the database maintenance system of our members, thereby ensuring the sustenance of an accurate, Up-to-date verifiable database and directory of all lawyers called to the Nigerian Bar and enrolled at the Supreme Court. This data base shall be utilized for all necessary purposes.

  1. PROFESSIONALIZED SECRETARIAT

I will be available at all times to assist the General Secretary in rebranding the secretariat, by employing International best practices for effective and efficient implementations of strategic plans and resolutions of the NBA.

I will drive initiatives and formulate policies targeted at achieving a professionalized Secretariat. This will enhance effective and efficient service delivery; to meet the needs and demands of our members on one hand and the day-to-day running of the administrative necessities on the other hand.

  1. WELFARE OF SECRETARIAT STAFF

Staff welfare is very vital to any association and its repute. Welfare lifts Staff morale and confidence; therefore, it is ever more imperative today to look out for the well-being of your Staff.

The well-being of members of secretariat staff will be assured, with me, I will suggest trainings for the members of staff of the Secretariat so as to attain obedience of terms of job reference from them as provided for in the organogram as well as enhance them objectively. And also build the respect which all members of the NBA deserve from the secretariat staff.

  1. RECORD- KEEPING

The importance of record keeping cannot be over-emphasized. An association like ours, must have a strong base of institutional history, such that it can passed on from generation to generation. Permanent and digital form of record keeping should be looked into.

Record-keeping is the act of keeping track of the history of a person’s or organization’s activities, generally by creating and storing consistent, formal records. Keeping good record is vital for any association, it keeps tracks of the activities, decisions and policies of any association. It is important to keep record as it is necessary for scores to be kept as keeping record is like score keeping.

It is the collection of historical items, an association such as ours must have a strong institutional history, I can assist the General Secretary in the upkeep of record of our association, record-keeping and archiving is a familiar ground. I will open discussions with the General Secretary on the use and need for modern, cost effective, and dependable digital-filing system for the secretariat. I can assist with that.

13.CONCLUSION

The above are some of my rare vision, that should I earn your trust to become your ‘Assistant General Secretary’, I intend to pursue keenly.

I bring to the table fresh perspectives to the administration of our dear National Secretariat; even though our common ground is the Nigerian Bar Association. I believe with the right leadership, novel and required standards can take root.

I therefore present to you my “Uncommon-Vision”. Together, I believe we can work to build the NBA of our dreams that we can all be proud of, an association that focuses on the professional development and welfare of its members.

The benefits of technology far outweigh its challenges; the trends are easy and interesting to follow, nevertheless lawyers and the association must become [I.T] savvy in its operation, to enable us stand out and be the admiration of others.

The Nigerian Bar Association is ours, we can either make or mar the association, but in my space all I desire is an association that will be the envy of all similar associations. I have articulated herein, how I believe we might reach our goals. I now call on you to join me through your support and vote, to make this a reality.

Thank you.

UCHENNA NWADIALO
Aspirant, Assistant Secretary
NBA [2020], National Elections

Posted in NBA

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