Full Text of Goodwill Message Delivered by J-K Gadzama at NBA SPIDEL 2021

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GOODWILL MESSAGE DELIVERED AT THE 2021 ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE NBA – SPIDEL HOLDEN AT IBADAN, OYO STATE ON 23RD – 26TH MAY, 2021 –BY JOE-KYARI GADZAMA, OFR, MFR, SAN, FNIALS, FICMC, DiplCArb, FCIArb, CArb. Pioneer Chairman, NBA – SPIDEL; Fmr. Vice Chairman, NBA – SLP; Fmr. Council Member, NBA – SBL; Fmr. Chairman, NBA Abuja Branch & Chairman, Mentorship Committee of the Body of Benchers


Protocol observation,

I join in welcoming all the conferees to this 2021 conference of the NBA – SPIDEL holding in our ancient city of Ibadan.

As the Pioneer Chairman of this NBA Section on Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL), it is important that I give a brief history of how we started, the challenges we had surmounted and encourage the incoming Executives of SPIDEL.

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The Section on Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL) as you all may know was established by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) following approval for its establishment at her NEC meeting held on 30th November, 2006 in Bauchi State, and was officially inaugurated on the 19th of December, 2006 by then President of NBA, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, OON, with me standing before you being appointed as the pioneer Chairman.

SPIDEL was borne out of the desire of the NBA to, among other things, ensure the maintenance of public law and order which is a necessity for societal development, innovations and economic prosperity. The need to discourage the abuse of official powers which could degenerate to a disruption of public law and order made the establishment of SPIDEL a timely and indispensable venture.

Just like every other body or organization in its infancy, I and my team experienced challenges in designing a structure for SPIDEL, preaching its vision to members of the Bar, as well as instituting it as a key facet of the Nigerian Bar Association. Though enormous, these steps positively impacted the membership and activities of the Section and in good time, it rose to reckoning within and without the NBA.

The journey was not smooth, the terrain was rough, but as a team, we were determined in our resolve to put in our best to see that the mandate of the Section was brought to fruition.

One cannot deny the pivotal role of the law on issues that border on public interest and development. It was, as I believe it still is, the desire of the leadership of the Bar to have laws that promote development, and that lawyers should ensure the development of legal instruments for the implementation of socio-economic policy objectives. This of course does not mean that lawyers should be antagonists against government policies but as social crusaders who make social justice and equality their priority.

Truth be told, SPIDEL has come a long way in actualizing the purpose for its establishment. This, in no small measure, was facilitated through conferences, seminars, workshops and several other platforms. All this has set NBA-SPIDEL towards public interest lawyering by which the development of law in Nigeria has been significantly bolstered.

Furthermore, SPIDEL has lent weight to NBA’s commitment to promoting the rule of law and growth of public interest law in Nigeria, whilst also fostering the accessibility to pro bono legal services for those who need them. Recently, public interest related cases were instituted by the NBA bothering on dismissal of an unmarried police woman that got pregnant and the tenure extension of the Inspector General of Police by the Presidency. I am leading the team of lawyers in the above two cases pending before the Federal High Court Abuja. If not for the JUSUN strike, we could have known the fate of both matters by now.

From experience garnered over the years in various bodies and organizations, I can tell you, with a chest-beating assurance, that there would always be challenges. However, the reaction of a leader to these challenges and the result of such reaction will ultimately define the success or failure of such leader.

I would appeal to the members of this Section not to relent as there is much work to be done in a bid to make NBA-SPIDEL a viable tool towards the economic, social, and political development of Nigeria.

I thank Dr. Paul Ananaba, SAN, the outgoing Chairman of NBA-SPIDEL and his team for the leadership provided and for embracing and surmounting the challenges so far. They have worked tirelessly to ensure that the proper mechanisms for actualization of NBA-SPIDEL’s vision are put in place.

I urge the incoming Executives of the SPIDEL to continue in the can-do spirit of the current and past leaderships of the SPIDEL. More sensitization should be carried out; conferences, and workshops should be organized more often; more lawyers, especially the vibrant young ones should be incorporated into the membership of this Section; pro bono cases affecting public interest should be given to these young lawyers to keep them busy, productive and also add value to them.

Indeed, the importance of this Section has not been rifer than now, considering the many challenges faced by the nation ranging from incessant kidnapping to violation of human rights by security agencies, mismanagement of public funds, among several others. So the value NBA-SPIDEL presently has to offer to lawyers and the public at large cannot be over-emphasized. The current administration under President Olumide Akpata has shown its interest on issues of public interest matters through setting up of relevant committee to support SPIDEL. The intervention of Femi Falana, SAN in the current impasse between the organized labour and the Kaduna State Government is highly commendable and such dexterity should be emulated by all lawyers in the spirit of public interest lawyering. When we do our parts collectively, NBA works for all.

There is a lot to be done and the incoming Council members must not relent in their efforts to use the Section as a machinery to strengthen public interest lawyering in Nigeria, develop the law, and ultimately facilitate the social, political and economic development of the country.

I wish us all a fruitful conference.

Thank you.




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