Legal pundits have argued that the issues of rule of law, good governance, independence of the judiciary and the enforcement of citizens’ fundamental human rights, remain the cornerstone of ideal society, JOSEPH DAUDU writes
The Corporate Counsel Forum is an integral part of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). Its importance is underscored by the fact that your members constitute the hub of the activities of the economic/commercial engine that facilitates the economic objectives of the nation. As legal advisers, general counsel, company secretaries, in-house counsel etc to the various corporate entities in this country you contribute directly to the economic advancement of this country. At a point when Nigeria needs to join the committee of nations that are the world’s economic, industrial and financial stakeholders, your work in your various organisations will impact on how Nigeria achieves this elusive stature of a modern industrialised nation.
Your membership of the Nigerian Bar Association puts you in good stead to make a difference to the running of the affairs of this great country.
NBA acknowledges the indispensible role played by her organs, sections fora and committees in the achievement of her objectives which can be summarised as follows; ‘to foster an environment where the Rule of Law, Good governance (political, economic and social) independence of the judiciary and the maintenance of all rights, be it civil, fundamental, economic, corporate, human and political rights thrive’. The Bar does not possess the machinery and personnel that government or the constitutional agencies that are entrusted with the duties of carrying out these objectives possess. We cannot therefore act as an alternative government to the one set up and recognised by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. But we can ensure that they carry out their constitutional and statutory duties in a satisfactory manner. This we do by (1) being good examples ourselves in the way and manner our responsibilities are discharged in our various places of influence, (2) avoiding the pitfalls of corruption, insincerity, malingering and indolence which have plagued our great country, (3) standing up to tyranny, abuse of basic rights and due process in our places of employment, (4) and generally being fair, honest and truthful in the discharge of our professional duties. In short, we must be role models upon which this country can anchor its battle for ethical re-orientation.
It is in this light that your forum must intensify her involvement in the activities of the Nigerian Bar Association. One of the first steps is to ensure that the Bye-laws that you are adopting today are submitted to the National Executive Committee of the NBA for ratification. Thereafter you must redouble your efforts to have your impact felt by the generality of the Bar. This you can do by being abreast with the national body’s activities. For instance we have 2 major conferences coming up in the next 2 months and they are (a) the Criminal Justice Reform Conference taking place at Abuja between the 17th -21st July 2011 and (b) the Annual General Conference taking place at Port Harcourt from the 21st -26th of August 2011. We are anxious to record your full participation at these and other events.
In conclusion, the Bar greatly appreciates the Corporate Counsel Forum, there are other issues that we cannot deal with here, we will find time to deal with them in due course, meanwhile, I wish you very fruitful deliberations as you conduct your Annual General Meeting.
Daudu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and President of the Nigerian Bar Association, delivered this piece at the annual general meeting/conference of the Corporate Counsel Forum in Lagos on June 28, 2011