Nigeria Bar Association and This Idle Debate, Fatuous Brouhaha About “Freedom Of Association” Among Lawyers in Nigeria

By Sylvester Udemezue

Although the higher courts in Nigeria have settled the issue of NBA membership vis-a-vis the freedom of association provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, some lawyers argue that we should have more than one umbrella association of lawyers’ in Nigeria, “as we have in the UK”. Proponents of this redundant view care less about the fact that, unlike in Nigeria, there’re two different professions within the legal profession in the United Kingdom; (a) the Barristers’ profession and the Solicitors’ profession. So, notwithstanding that it really makes a lot of sense that the UK has two umbrella bodies of lawyers, some lawyers in Nigeria are more comfortable with comparing Nigeria to the UK; they want things done as they’re done in the UK. Well, it is their right. No one begrudges anyone of one’s right to freedom of speech and expression. However, it’s important we take a look at some of the things happening in the UK, but not happening in Nigeria, so that the advocates of “let’s copy the UK” could see there are far more important, beneficial things for Nigerians to copy in the UK, than mere multiplicity of lawyers associations.

1️⃣Your president, Vice president, and political office holders’ hospitals are domiciled in the UK, not in Nigeria. Yet, no citizen of the UK, not even a mad man in the UK, thinks of coming to Nigeria for medical tourism. Nigeria, to them, is good for nothing other than corruption.

2️⃣. UK has steady, uninterrupted public power supply. Nigeria has no public power supply at all, or has an epileptic supply. Hence Nigeria is, by Nigerians, baptized, a “Generator Republic” meaning a country living in darkness.

3️⃣. In the UK, almost all lawsuits filed in court in 2022 – 2023 have been determined/decided in the courts of first instance, and many have gone on appeal, and even determined. In Nigeria, 90 percent of all cases filed in courts of first instance within the last 10 to 15 years are still pending in the courts of first instance, and no hope of conclusion. In Nigeria, a lawsuit could stay in court for up to 20-40 years. And this is not exceptional, unlike in the UK wherein cases are decided within 01-02 years.

4️⃣. Nigerians are japaing (escaping from Nigeria) to the UK in droves, as a result of hunger, starvation, frustration, joblessness, bad governance and insecurity in Nigeria. No UK citizen is interested in coming to Nigeria since Nigeria is a no-go area and UK is a stable economy, safe and conducive for business and living.

5️⃣. There is low insecurity in the UK. There is high, worsening insecurity in Nigeria. Nigeria is currently rated the 3rd most terrorised country in the world; life has lost its value; citizens are being killed daily, with the killers operating with impunity.

6️⃣. There’s good governance in the UK, unlike Nigeria where bad governance is the order.

7️⃣. UK’s electoral system is effective, ensuring the people’s choices are returned during elections, unlike in Nigeria where the election system is so, corrupted, hollow and manipulable that democracy has become a government of a few by the few for the few, to the exclusion of the people. Under Nigeria’s democracy, leaders are selected, not elected. Power belongs in reality, to the leaders, not to the people.

8️⃣. In the UK, an Indian is the prime minister, while some of the Ministers are not of UK origin but accepted for leadership in the UK. In Nigeria, on the other hand, citizens from certain segments are barred or forbidden, by some unwritten rules, from national leadership; some fellow Nigerians foolishly tagged “Dot in a Circle,” are, by some unwritten rules, excluded from national leadership, from becoming president, and from occupying certain public offices.

9️⃣. In Nigeria, ethnicity jingoism, tribalism, religious bigotry, party/sectional affiliation, and clannishness, guide public appointments and formulation and implementation of government policies, leading to disastrous consequences. In the UK, capacity and merit largely determines who gets what in the public and private space.

🔟. In Nigeria, the education system is devastated, debased and devalued because neglected. In the UK, priority is on education of citizens; hence even Nigerians are running to the UK for quality education.

1️⃣1️⃣. Only lawyers undertake criminal prosecution in UK courts. Over 95 percent of all criminal prosecutions in Nigerian courts is undertaken by quack, non-qualified, non-lawyer policemen, while lawyers roam the streets in search of non-available jobs

1️⃣2️⃣. In the UK, no non-lawyers would ever dare to steal, or do, a lawyer’s job. In Nigeria, many of the lawyer’s jobs have been stolen and are being done by outsiders while lawyers look on helplessly.

1️⃣3️⃣. In the UK, lawyer’s fees, professional charges and remuneration are so inpregnably standardized that it’s near impossible for any outsider to take away lawyer’s fees or for any client to shortchange a lawyer. In Nigeria, in more than 80 percent of all cases/jobs, lawyers are underpaid, shortchanged and they do absolutely nothing about it.

1️⃣4️⃣. There’s hardy any thing like police brutalization of lawyers in the UK, unlike Nigeria where police brutality is the inthing, and lawyers are completely clueless about it.

1️⃣5️⃣. In the UK, as of February 2024, there are six major oil refineries in the UK, supplying up to 85% of the country’s inland market requirements. As of February 2024, there’s no single operational/functional oil refinery in Nigeria. Nigeria, the world’s 6th largest exporter of crude oil, depends 100℅ on import for its inland market requirements.

1️⃣6️⃣. About 130 million Nigerians live below the poverty line — wallowing in extreme poverty — in Nigeria, unlike in the UK

1️⃣7️⃣. Unemployment Rate in the United Kingdom is 3.80 percent as of January 2024. In Nigeria, “Nigeria Unemployment Rate Rises to 33%, Second Highest on Global List” (According to

1️⃣8️⃣.The economy of the United Kingdom is a highly developed social market economy. It is the sixth-largest national economy in the world while Nigeria is the 26th largest economy in the world.

(A). SALARY OF A PROFESSOR IN THE UK:* The average salary for Professor is £83,259 (₦166.5 Million) per year in the United Kingdom. The average additional cash compensation for a Professor in the United Kingdom is £4,866 (₦9.7 million). Total: ₦176.2 million per annum
(B). SALARY OF A PROFESSOR IN NIGERIA: Maximum of ₦6 million per annum.
(A)BASE SALARY OF A POLICEMAN IN THE UK:▪️Between £29,137 (58,274,000) and @£40,000 (₦80,000,000: eigthy million naira) per annum

(B). BASE SALARY OF A POLICEMAN IN NIGERIA: Police Constable Grade Level 03:▪️ ₦43, 294 per month.▪️₦520,000 (five hundred and twenty thousand naira) per annum

2️⃣0️⃣. The list is endless,of those things that place the UK over 100 years ahead of Nigeria. Yet, campaign to pull NBA down is what is at the back of the minds of some lawyers in Nigeria. Please, dear colleagues, let’s first copy all these things, mentioned above, and have them in place, as they’re in the UK, and our country will be fine and making progress. Retaining NBA as the umbrella association of all lawyers in Nigeria, is not among the problems of Nigeria. Let’s stop chasing after shadows, leaving substance! My humble opinion, please.
◾To be continued, please🙏

Sylvester Udemezue (udems)
(19 February 2024)

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