TML EXCLUSIVE: NBA AGC 2017 Will Be World Class – Prof. Konyin Ajayi, S.A.N

Prof. Konyisola Ajayi SAN
Prof. Konyisola Ajayi SAN
  • Tablets to contain conference material and 12 months subscription of full Law Reports of Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, National Industrial Court, all the State High Courts, the Federal High Court, Sharia Courts, Rules of all the courts in Nigeria, laws of some States and the Federation, Law Reports from Asia, America and Europe and some Forms and Precedents for Commercial Lawyers in the tablets.
  • Tablets to be distributed by Airtel
  • “I can’t find my name” function added on registration portal

The 2017 edition of the Nigerian Bar Association’s (NBA) Annual General Conference comes up from 18th to 24th of August in Lagos, Nigeria.

The conference is expected to draw lawyers, resource persons and other delegates from across the globe; and registration for the conference which is scheduled to take place at the Landmark Center, Lagos, commenced less than a week ago.

In a talk with The Metro Lawyer, Chairman, Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP) for the upcoming conference, Prof. Konyinsola Ajayi, S.A.N. addressed every grey area; threw even more light on the plans for and what to expect at the conference and put to rest recently reported fears of some prospective delegates.

On whether the early bird registration date will be extended in view of some complaints of difficulty with registration on the portal especially in the early days of its opening.

Prof: We have had around 50 complaints and that was when the portal first opened. We know everybody that goes to the website. We know everyone that has a problem. We can see from the back end those who abort, those who can’t pay because they don’t have a card, and so on.

Unfortunately the roll of lawyers is not complete and some may not have been able to find their names. But immediately we got that feedback, we created a column- an “I can’t find my name” option. Registrants can indicate that and carry on. We can give the statistics of people that have registered like that.

We must try not to unnecessarily blow up things. On day one alone 300 people registered. If we continue at that rate, we can have 5000 registrants by middle of July (in 10 days). If we have that there may be no need to extend it. We do have complaints, but we have fixed most. We are studying the situation. Registration is going on very very well. Very few people have had genuine problems. We have 24 hour operation. The technology gives us automatic feedback so we know of the genuine challenges and they are very very few. Everybody gets a unique password. People must quickly study the portal; type in your name correctly etc. We have the best payment platform in Nigeria. It is very secure. We would advise everyone to pay early to help us plan, so that by the 3rd week, you receive your materials. Lawyers are registering everyday in their numbers.

On why this conference will be different

Prof: In the past one of the major challenges at our conferences is collecting materials and registering because you would probably have 10 registration centers for 5 to 10 thousand people. So it brings pushing and shoving. This time it is different. When you come to the conference center, you swipe your card and you can walk in. You already have your conference pack.

We have free medicals for delegates. Delegates can walk into the clinic and check their blood pressure, prostrate, BMI etc- free of charge! There is also provision for more complex tests at discounted rates. There will be free psychometric tests for delegates. You will agree with me that delegates will be getting a bargain.

We have exhibition booths, parallel sessions, etc. It is a world class conference which has been so well planned that there are international organizations coming in. World class organizations from all over the world are still writing in to be part of  this conference. As matter of fact, we are over subscribed. These organizations are paying to participate.

We have worked towards eliminating all sources of stress for delegates. Usually, why we encounter stress is because of overbooking for our parties and under-provide facilities. We are making arrangements for live streaming of the sessions for lawyers who are not able to come.

On Tablets/Conference Materials

I am betting on this, if you know me then you would know that the tablets will arrive. Airtel did a bid in the market of all its suppliers in the market, weeded down from about 20 to 7 and we narrowed down to this one. The tablet is strong and protected, has after sales service in Nigeria, factory malfunction is covered, parts are readily available and it has a one year warranty. We are making arrangements to deliver tablets to delegates who wanted to come but couldn’t make it.

What I’m saying is we have more tablets than delegates anyway. The NBA President has said he wants to use the tablets as a way of developing and delivering a brave new bar. There are lawyers who may not be able to come. We want them to have an opportunity to access the tablets. For us, this is about transforming the bar. If we can put this tablet in the hands of 10,000 lawyers around the country there is no way legal practice will not change because it means: I get to court, I open my tablet, type in and I get the cases. This is good for lawyers in communities where there are no law libraries. It will serve to equip lawyers. In this conference, the biggest transformation may well be the change that will occur in legal practice in Nigeria since the 1840s.

On the expected speakers

The International Bar Association, International Trademark Association, The Law Society in England, International law federation for training of Africa will all be represented at the conference. Also expected are: Head of branding consultancy in South Africa, Attorney General of Ghana, Finance minister of Ghana, Heads of Ghana, Zambian and Kenyan bars. Leading law firms in Ivory Coast and Cameroon will be there. Professors from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T) and Princeton University, Aliko Dangote, Facebook, Head of Goldman Sachs are coming; former INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, Chairman of Coscharis etc.

What we have done is to move away from drafting just big Lagos lawyers and NBA politicians as speakers. This year we have speakers from the 6 geopolitical zones in Nigeria. We have invited men, women, young, old and very old to speak. We also have big local and international companies coming in.

On transportation arrangements/logistics to ease Lagos traffic stress during the conference

Lagos state is our partner for the event, so we are going to operate a transport scheme with them. My advise to delegates is to try and stay close to the conference center. We have listed about 50 hotels on the website. We have negotiated heavy discounts with all the hotels to make sure every level of accommodation is affordable. We had thought the law school hostel would be available but this is not the case unfortunately.

We have buses to convey delegates from hotels around the conference center. We would advise delegates who are car owners not to drive to the conference center to avoid traffic situations. You can easily join the bus at a designated pick up point.

On why the initially announced resource provider was substituted

As chairman of TCCP we decided to do things properly. In Nigeria, we complain of contracts being awarded arbitrarily, not being transparent, not competitive, and end users not getting value for money. So one of the first things we did was to draft our procurement rules. Everybody dealt with by TCCP went through a competitive process. We put out a tender and vendors brought in their quotes. We appointed technical experts to help with due diligence. We chose the best in terms of value for money and ultimately the benefit of delegates. The chosen vendor offered us 12 months subscription of full Law Reports of Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, National Industrial Court, all the State High Courts, the Federal High Court, Sharia Courts, Rules of all the courts in Nigeria, laws of some States and the Federation, Law Reports from Asia, America and Europe and some Forms and Precedents for Commercial Lawyers in the tablets. We are getting functionality and depth. So this vendor offered us the best package.  We considered the best value and package for lawyers’ money while ensuring that the NBA does not run at a loss.

On assurances For Lawyers and Delegates

First, lawyers must recognize that law is a noble profession. The Nigerian Bar is a professional association and not a trade union and the AGC is organized for Bar members to meet, rub minds and network. It is not a general meeting of all the lawyers in Nigeria. So, we must first disabuse our minds that it is a general meeting which everyone is entitled to attend so that the NBA should expect 30 to 40,000 delegates. We have no facility in Nigeria that can accommodate such number of people. We must learn from experience. You will recall that when the Federal Government tried a recruitment exercise at a stadium with no capacity, lives were lost. We do not want to make the same mistakes. We will only register the number we can accommodate. We hope to engage our members to accept that proposition.

Other important things to note

We have ordered conference materials and they will be delivered before the end of August, 2017.

The tablets will be distributed by Airtel at their locations all over the country, so delegates must visit the outlet closest to them.

Our registration is fully digital. We have data capture which aids planning.

We have launched our logo. We are on social media and followership is in millions.

Most new websites have challenges but we are on top of the very few complaints and feedback received. The usability of the site gets better by the day. The data base of lawyers was corrupted and we are cleaning it up. This caused the initial delay.

It is important for delegates to note the “I can’t find my name” option when they can’t find their names on the roll. Just click on it and continue with your registration.

We advise prospective delegates to register as soon as possible to aid our planning.

We are bringing in non-lawyers, lawyers in other fields, Accounting firms, Engineers etc. Lawyers can take advantage, network and work on partnerships. It is a great opportunity to network.

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