TWO of the four leading presidential candidates for the 2023 general election in Nigeria are currently attending the 62nd Edition of the Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association in Lagos State.
They are the Labour Party (LP) candidate Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Bola Tinubu, and his counterpart in the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Musa Kwankwaso, are not at the meeting.
Tinubu’s running mate, Kashim Shettima, is present.
Obi and Atiku are to speak in a panel session on ‘Democratic Transitions in 21st Century Nigeria: 2023 and Beyond’.
Chairman, Technical Committee on Conference Planning, Tobenna Erojikwe, confirmed the duo’s availability for the event in a report.
According to Erojikwe, the NBA sent invitations to four leading presidential candidates in the forthcoming election.
The ICIR reports that Tinubu, Obi, Atiku and Kwankwaso are the four leading candidates.
“We are excited to announce that of the four leading presidential candidates we sent invites to, two have confirmed to us that they would be available to speak at the 62nd NBA Annual General Conference holding at the Eko Atlantic City in Lagos. We await a response from the other two, and we are hopeful that it will be positive.
“It is a first in the history of the NBA Annual General Conference, and it is in line with our aspiration to make the 2022 AGC a legacy conference that sets a standard that will become a benchmark for subsequent conferences of the NBA. We are looking forward to seeing participants have a robust engagement with the candidates,” he said.
The conference has the theme, ‘Bold Transitions’.
The conference, which holds between August 19 and 26, has Nigerian ace writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as a keynote speaker.
Apart from Obi and Atiku, the conference has leading politicians, entrepreneurs, professionals from different fields and others in attendance.
Meanwhile, Reno Omokri, an aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, mocked Tinubu for not attending the conference.
According to Omokri, if Atiku and Obi, who live hundreds of kilometres away from Lagos, where Tinubu lives, could attend the meeting, the APC candidate has no reason to be absent.
“If Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi can fly to Lagos to speak at the Nigerian Bar Association Annual General Conference, then what excuse can Bola Tinubu have if he does not show face there? It is happening in Lagos. He lives in Lagos. Lagos is his base. He claims to be from Lagos (although Osun…),” Omokri wrote.
A statement by Erojikwe on behalf of Olumide Akpata, the NBA President, said the conference is the leading event of the NBA and the main feature of the annual calendar of the Nigerian legal profession.
“It presents legal practitioners in Nigeria with a unique opportunity to interrogate issues affecting the profession and society and to continue to seek innovative ways of advancing justice delivery and providing value-adding legal solutions to their clients and the environment within which members of the association operate.
“We live in a time where major transformation; technology, and access to data, amongst other disruptive transitions, have continued to influence many aspects of our lives and are driving significant change in businesses, including law practice.
“Thus, the theme for this year’s conference is ‘Bold Transitions’. Discussions at the Conference will focus on the need for the legal profession to engage boldly with global evolutionary trends and will comprise over 30 technical sessions where experts will lead conversations primarily aimed at envisioning the future of the legal profession within the context of a rapidly transiting world and business environment, triggered in part by revolutionary exploits and expressions of technology and the historic coronavirus pandemic.
“The conference will address the impact of the rapid changes on fundamental socio-political and economic issues, including but not limited to the rule of law, access to justice, independence and self-sustainability of the judicial arm of government.
“The conference is anticipated to congregate not less than 13,000 delegates and will as usual bring together thought leaders in the areas of justice delivery, technology, the economy, politics, judicial reforms, human rights and the rule of law. Indeed, the conference is the largest gathering of business, political and thought leaders on the African continent.”