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The United Kingdom has revealed some of its reasons for wanting to recruit teachers from Nigeria and eight other countries.

Saturday PUNCH reported that the UK had listed Nigeria among the list of countries where teachers could apply to teach in the UK.

Some of the other countries are Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Singapore, South Africa, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.

The applicants do not even necessarily require initial teaching qualifications as the country offers a training programme for potential migrants.

In the data for the remunerations, the UK noted, “All qualified teachers will have a starting salary of at least £28,000. This will be higher for teachers working in London. Your school will have their own pay scales for qualified teachers. Pay increases will always be linked to performance, not length of service, and will be reviewed every year.”

Commenting on the development, a professor of Education at the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Alabi Thomas, said Nigerian teachers were trained and qualified for opportunities that come their way.

He said, “The only challenge is the poor way in which the government is handling that sector. You see governors who owe salaries of teachers for months. Some don’t get promoted despite putting up years of quality service. This should also be an eye-opener for the government.”

[Punch]

A bitter faceoff between Nigeria and an offshore company over an $11 billion arbitration award intensified this week as lawyers traded accusations of corruption and ineptitude in a London court room.

Africa’s largest economy is seeking to overturn a 2017 ruling which ordered it to pay billions in damages after a gas deal with Process & Industrial Development Ltd, or P&ID, went sideways. The contract in question was struck in 2010, when Nigeria agreed to provide two decades’ worth of free gas to a facility P&ID would build in the country in exchange for processed gas for electricity generation. The British Virgin Islands-registered firm claims that the government failed to provide it with natural gas, and so it never built the planned refinery. 

Nigeria says the deal was fraudulent from the start, and that the company conducted a years-long campaign of bribery and lies involving former government officials to win the contract and compromise the state's defense in the arbitration — allegations which P&ID staunchly denies. 

The firm initiated arbitration in 2012, and five years later, a UK court ordered Nigeria to pay P&ID $6.6 billion — an amount that has ballooned to more than $11 billion with interest.

The fraud trial opened on Jan. 23 and is due to run for another six weeks.

 

The two sides’ legal teams clashed over the following five points:

Same Payments, Different Explanations

Nigeria alleges that P&ID founders Michael Quinn and Brendan Cahill used bribery as their "modus operandi for making money" since at least the early 2000s. The company rejects this claim as "avowedly inferential." At issue are payments to former Nigerian government officials, which each side has a starkly different explanation for.

Quinn and Cahill made payments to Grace Taiga, the legal director of the country’s petroleum resources ministry at the time the deal was signed, and to her daughters over the course of almost two decades. Nigeria says that these transfers — which include a $5,000 payment made 12 days before the contract was signed — amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

This was a “corrupt relationship” in which Taiga was “illicitly paid for her benefit in return for her help,” Mark Howard, Nigeria’s lawyer, said in court.

Not so, according to P&ID, which claims Quinn was in an intimate, likely romantic, relationship with Taiga. In a document prepared for the case, the company argues that the payments were not made on P&ID’s behalf, but were from Quinn personally. “It is lawful in Nigeria for a public officer to accept customary personal gifts or benefits from personal friends … Quinn’s benevolent gift-giving was not unusual, but part of Nigerian socio-culture,” it said.

P&ID also acknowledged that Cahill continued to support Taiga financially with her legal and medical expenses following Quinn’s death in 2015. She is a “a very sick woman” who has suffered “cruel and violent treatment” at the hands of Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, P&ID lawyer David Wolfson told the court. Taiga was detained for three weeks in 2019 “in the harshest of conditions and subjected to relentless questioning” by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which had “the clear intent of obtaining false evidence from her that would incriminate P&ID,” the company said in the document. 

Taiga retired from government in late 2010. An email to a Nigerian law firm representing her was not answered, and Cahill did not reply to requests for comment. What Taiga did with the money she received was immaterial, Nigeria’s lawyer countered. “It does not matter how an official spends a bribe,” said Howard. “It could be on champagne, new cars, holidays, a child’s university bills or expensive medical treatment in a Harley Street clinic. A bribe is a bribe.”

Nigeria also alleges that P&ID colluded with the lawyer that the government had hired to represent it during the first phase of the arbitration. It claims that the company “corrupted” Olasupo Shasore, who then paid $200,000 on behalf of P&ID to two senior legal officials at the petroleum resources ministry and the state-owned energy company. This allegedly happened in late 2014, while the three were urging the state to settle the dispute for $1.1 billion.

Those negotiations were ultimately unsuccessful. Just over two years later a British tribunal awarded P&ID six times as much after determining that the contract’s arbitration clause gave it jurisdiction to decide the matter. 

In P&ID’s telling, Shasore paid the civil servants from his own earnings from the government, and could have been thanking them for helping him settle his invoice. While “it may be that the payments were not legitimate,” the company granted, “there is no need to resort to the convoluted theory” that Nigeria is advancing. Shasore did not respond to a request for comment.

 

Seamus Andrew’s High Stakes

Another point of contention is the role of British lawyer Seamus Andrew, who represented P&ID in arbitration from 2012 until acquiring a majority stake in the company in October 2017 – an arrangement Nigeria has characterized as “extremely odd.” Andrew currently controls 75% of P&ID via a Cayman Islands-registered litigation funding firm. The hedge fund VR Capital Group owns the rest.

Andrew stands to “become extraordinarily wealthy” and potentially make more than $2 billion if the company collects on the award, Howard said during cross examination of P&ID’s owner. If Nigeria wins, however, he could face criminal proceedings and “kiss goodbye” his legal career, Howard added. Andrew did not respond to a request for comment. 

Shell or Serious Company?

P&ID “could and would perform its obligations” to build a gas facility if the Nigerian government had “upheld its side of the bargain,” the firm said. Its lawyers allege that the government’s failure to supply the required gas undermined the company’s exploratory discussions with potential financiers and technical partners.

In response, Nigeria describes the company as a “skeletal operation” that refused to spend money and couldn’t even pay its sole employee on time. “P&ID was not a company on the verge of construction of a $500 million gas processing plant,” Nigeria stated in its written opening argument. “It was selling second-hand cars to keep the lights on.”

It’s Actually Your Fault

Nigeria’s sitting president, Muhammadu Buhari, assumed office in May 2015 after defeating the political party that had held power for 16 years. His attorney general, Abubakar Malami, has built the government’s case against P&ID around the notion that the company thoroughly corrupted several of the previous administration’s officials. He did not reply to requests for comment. 

P&ID, in turn, has said that Nigeria’s enormous liability is the result of the incompetence of Malami, who oversaw the final stage of the arbitration. During discussions between the two parties about the size of the damages, Wolfson said, Malami ignored advice to recruit internationally recognized experts capable of challenging P&ID’s calculations.

“Just as the government had made a mess of performing the contract, it made a mess of the arbitration as well.”

[Bloomberg]

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday in Abuja revealed that a mock accreditation exercise would be held on Saturday, February 4, 2023 in 436 polling units nationwide to test the functionality of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) ahead of the general election.
INEC’s National Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this at a meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) held at the national headquarters of the commission, with the purpose of putting finishing touches to the preparations for the 2023 general election.
He said 12 polling units had been designated in each state of the federation and four in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on the equality of the country’s 109 Senatorial Districts for the exercise.

Yakubu noted that a comprehensive list of the polling units, including their names and PU Code numbers, as well as their distribution by State, Senatorial District, Local Government and Registration Area (Ward) would be uploaded on the Commission’s website.
The chairman informed the RECs that movement of materials for the election to various locations nationwide was being concluded.
He added that training of officials would commence shortly, while ongoing consultations with stakeholders would be intensified.

 

He further explained that critical service providers in the area of transportation had reassured the commission of their commitment to efficient logistics for the movement of materials and personnel to various locations while the security agencies had reaffirmed their readiness for the election.

According to the INEC Chairman, the Commission is aware that there are a few issues to be addressed: “One of them is the ongoing collection of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs). The Commission is encouraged by the determination of registered voters nationwide to collect their PVCs and the actual level of collection so far.”

Yakubu stated further: “For instance, in Lagos State, which has the highest number of registered voters in the country, the Commission delivered 940,200 PVCs from the recent voter registration exercise (June 2021 to July 2022) for both new registrants and requests for transfer and replacement of cards.
“As of Thursday 26th January 2023, 839,720 PVCs had been collected representing 89.3% of the total figure.

 

“This meeting with RECs will consider reports from other states of the Federation and the Commission will not hesitate to consider additional measures to ensure that all citizens have ample opportunity to collect their PVCs ahead of the general election.”
Yakubu said: “As you are already aware, the Commission has taken delivery of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines for the election. We have also dutifully tested each machine in our offices nationwide to ensure its functionality.

“The next step is to conduct field tests across the country involving actual voters. For this reason, and in readiness for nationwide deployment, the Commission is conducting a mock accreditation of voters similar to what was done ahead of the recent Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections.”
The chairman appealed to registered voters in the affected polling units to appear on the scheduled date with their PVCs for the mock exercise.
Yakubu noted that doing so would help to reassure the public of the robustness of the system and to strengthen our processes ahead of the general election.
He said Civil society organisations, the media and the general public are welcome to observe the process.
The chairman said at the end of the exercise, the 436 BVAS machines involved would be reconfigured before they are deployed for the general election.

[ThisDay]

 

Motorists in Warri, Delta state woke up to another sad reality as a litre  of petrol sold for N500. 

 

The ugly development immediately caused a hike in the transport fare to every route by commercial tricycle operators and motorcyclists.

There have been instability in the price of petrol in the last one month with several filling stations  selling at rates they chose.

 

 

Some sold a litre for N290 while others did at N340.

Motorists and commuters have continued to lament  yesterday’s increase ,  adding that they were also disturbed with the long queues at filling stations.

“With the high  cost you still can’t see petrol to buy”, a resident of Jakpa road area told the Vanguard.

In a related development, the scarcity of new naira notes was also a thing of worry yesterday as many traders  had started rejecting the old naira notes.

 

CHIDI Mokeme is a popular Nigerian actor, who has made a name for himself on and off screen. His popularity rose after he hosted the Gulder Ultimate Search reality TV show many years back. Known as one of Nollywood bad boys, this 50-year-old indigene of Oba in Idemili South LGA of Anambra State, Nigeria has been off screen for a while. In this interview with The Nation’s ASSISTANT ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR GBENGA BADA, the father, show host, entrepreneur, and actor opened up on why he has been away from acting, his new role and the psychological effects it had on him.

You haven’t been around for a while, what’s been happening?

Talking about not being in the country, I have always been in and out of the country. I think circumstances like COVID made it look like I haven’t been around for a while when you do extended stays outside the shores of Nigeria. My family has been out of the country for like 12 years now, so I have always been in and out of the country.

You are returning from your hiatus to take on the role of a vicious character, Aboderin, and Scar in the new Netflix show, what does it feel like for you?

It feels good, you know it’s my comfort zone, playing the role of a villain. I like to play the antagonist villain and Scar is the ultimate villain, so it was a really good experience and I loved it. I had orgasms playing Scar from scene to scene, day to day, it was like a kid in a candy store, so creatively for me, as an artist, Scar just brought the opportunity to lay it all bare and say this is why we do what we do, I loved the role.

 

So, why did you take the role, and what was your reaction like after getting the script?

 

After coming back from a hiatus, you know due to COVID-19 that put the world on a standstill and you come back to get a script written by Xavier Ighorodje and Chichi Nworah, I got the script for Shanty Town, but when I read it, I exclaimed like what, are you guys really ready for this? Really, that was my first reaction when I read the script because I just thought about it and said to myself, these people have come again, they will write this humongous script and when they get on set, they won’t be able to pull it through, so that was my first question. I asked if they were ready and the producer responded affirmatively saying they have notable practitioners like RMD, Sola Sobowale, Ali Nuhu, Shaffy, Zuby, Nse, and Ini Edo and I said well, if you are ready as you said, then let’s shoot this today. That was how I felt because prior to the day of getting the script, I had plans to go for some functions, so when the script dropped on my phone, I said, okay, let me just read one page so I can convince those on the project that I have read it and before I knew it, it was 4 AM and I couldn’t put my phone down. I picked up my phone and called those behind the project at the same time that you gave me a script that couldn’t make me sleep, so, let’s go and shoot this right now.

What can you tell me about your character?

Shanty Town as a show is very interesting and Scar was a character that was more interesting such that I could have done it for free for the depth of the story.

 

What were the extra things you had to do to get into character and get it right?

I just went back to the streets. As an artist, what I do and I do well is observing people. Anywhere I am, I am observing everyone around me, the situations, how they talk, their reaction, and more because that’s the pool of knowledge we draw from when it is time to play some of these roles.

 

For Scar was like the ultimate area boy, the area boy of the area boys so I had to go to the ghetto, I went to Shitta in Surulere, it was an area I was already familiar with growing up in the neighbourhood, so I went there in disguise and after spending two hours, I had no doubt in my mind that we were going to wake Scar up because I could see different elements and components of Scar in people walking around, the way they were walking, talking, things they were doing, the kind of music that was blasting from all of the speakers and from there I took my next inspiration because I knew I needed to pick all of these sounds that they were listening to and saturate my mind with all these languages.

So, I went to Naira Marley, Olamide, King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal, King Sunny Ade, Pasuma, all the boys, and all the local stuff. I dug out all the music and listened to everything they had put out and listened to them on and on. I did this because I needed to be in a particular mindset, these boys pick slang from nowhere, slangs around them is manufactured per second billing and when a new slang comes, the next person understands right away, so you need to be in a certain frame of mind and mindset to be able to open yourself up like that especially an old school like me feeling accomplished and arrived, so I had to remove the garb of Chidi Mokeme and put Scar on and as soon as we put all the components together, cooked it, we had a good soup in Shanty Town.

Psychologically, how long did it take you to drop the whole character?

Scar took pretty much five months of my life because actually, it took some time. Withdrawing myself from the regular things I do. I remember that the set I went to after shooting Shanty Town suffered from Scar’s character because the director had to say I needed some time to get back into the role because I was supposed to be a loving guy, a nice loving husband but I was treating the woman badly and he wondered if it was still the last character that I played, so Scar took some time for me to crawl out of the shell. It took some time.

Shanty Town is majorly anchored on Scar’s character, did that put any form of pressure on you?

No, I think the only pressure that I have is one of a performer which is welcomed. A performance pressure that expects you to make sure you have dotted your Is and crossed your Ts and I always say as a performer when you hear the action, you get that butterfly but that butterfly rather than anxiety for me that butterfly was making me remember all the points that I want to make on set or a particular scene.

So, from that point of view, that was the only pressure, hence, the pressure was from me on me to be sure that the work that I thought that I have done that I can put out here and say director, here you go. Other than that, there was no pressure from anywhere, I had seasoned actors left right, and centre, it was healthy competition, so are you ready, bring your A game. One thing I remember I used to do was that I never go to set with my script, I had no script on set because I had everything in my head, everybody’s line, in fact, the whole story in my head after I had convinced myself that this story is all about Scar, so if you miss your line, I give you your line. So, the pressure was self-imposed to be sure that I delivered on the job.

Playing Scar, there were some raunchy scenes and probably never seen before scenes of you grabbing women’s bums and boobs, tell me about all those moments on set

Basically, at that moment, I was not thinking about doing that, I was focused on fulfilling the expected mannerism and characterisation of Scar, hence, it was no feelings or thoughts. After the scene, then Chidi gets to remember that Scar did all this and that because Chidi would never do that. So at that moment, you have given yourself totally to the character and I can tell you that Scar was actually crazy because those things have never been done on Nigerian TV.

As I said in those scenes and during those moments, it shows how deeply engrossed I was in the character I played, even the same thing Jackie, played by Mercy Eke. She understood that this was not Mercy but Jackie who has found herself in this situation and this kind of touches helped Jackie to be in her character because at that time she was wondering is this the kind of life I want to live because what Scar is doing is to announce that as long as she or any of the girls remain in Shanty Town, he owns them and it’s either you are there or not and Scar finds the most demeaning ways to let the girls and everyone know that he’s in charge.

[Nation]

Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, the Nollywood actress, has condemned the level of suffering in Nigeria.

 

The actress took to Instagram on Friday to lament the situation of things in Nigeria while comparing it with what is obtainable in the United States.

Omotola, who relocated with her family in 2021, said living in the US has opened her eyes to the “needless sufferings in Nigeria”.

The country’s economy gasps for breath as food price hikes and fuel scarcity continue to persist. Insurgents, bandits, and kidnappers are also threatening the well-being of citizens.

 

Joining the fray, Omotola said that the irregularities Nigerians condone are “pure craziness”.

“After living in the US now for about 2 years.. Not just visiting but living and changing systems..I now see many things we managed and let slide is just pure craziness,” she wrote.

The 44-year-old also wondered why people must suffer to get anything done in Nigeria.

 

“I’m deeply frustrated at the depth and volume of the needless suffering Nigerians go through,” she added.

“We are too intelligent a people to suffer like this. Suffering is not lessons to brag about … it’s evil. Why must people suffer to get anything done? Why?”

The award-winning film star made her Nollywood debut as the leading actress in ‘Venom of Justice’ in 1995.

Since then, she has established herself as a prominent figure in the country’s entertainment industry.

 

Omotola has appeared in over 300 films and received so many domestic and international awards.

[TheCable]

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has sacked Senator Bassey Akpan as the Senator representing Uyo Senatorial district in the Senate for defecting to the Young Progressives Party, YPP.

The presiding Judge, Justice Fadima Murtala Aminu, in his ruling on Friday, declared Senator Akpan’s seat vacant and ordered INEC to conduct a bye election to fill the vacant office.

The Judge further ruled that the Senator should refund to the National Assembly all the monies and entitlements received after July 2022, being the time he defected from PDP to YPP without any problem in the previous party.

In a suit no, FHC/ABJ/CS/1249/2022, Justice Aminu ruled that Senator Akpan, who was sponsored to the office of a Senator by the PDP, is no longer qualified to retain his seat in the Senate having resigned his membership of the PDP before the expiration of the period for which he was elected to represent the people of Akwa Ibom North-East Senatorial District.

Justice Aminu said, “in accordance with section 65(2)[B] of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, I hereby declare Senator Akpan’s seat vacant.”

[DailyPost]

Saturday, 28 January 2023 07:03

G-5: Atiku’s men adopt new strategies

Barely a month to the presidential election, the crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party is facing an uphill task to convince five of its elected governors to campaign for its flag bearer, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Governors Nyesom Wike, Okezie Ikpeazu, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Seyi Makinde and Samuel Ortom of Rivers, Abia, Enugu, Oyo and Benue states respectively, had renounced their membership of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council in September 2022, demanding, among others, the resignation of the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, to pave the way for a southern successor.

Although the governors are believed to be working for two rival candidates, the intensity with which they attack the Ayu-led National Working Committee in the past few months appears to be waning.

The PUNCH gathered that the inability of the governors to agree on which particular candidate to support is partly responsible for the low spate activities in their ranks in recent times.

 

Our correspondent learnt that in Benue State, loyalists to the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, were busy reaching out to party faithful in their strongholds to drum up support for him.

A former governor of the state, Gabriel Suswam, The PUNCH gathered, has been convening a series of stakeholders’ meetings in the Benue North-East Senatorial District, urging eligible voters to pitch tent with Atiku in spite of Governor Ortom’s opposition.

An associate of the governor, who pleaded anonymity, said Suswam and playwright, Professor Iyorwuese Hagher, had been doing a lot for Atiku since Ortom made his position clear that he was not going to support the PDP presidential standard bearer if Ayu failed to go.

“Suswam addressed stakeholders from Zone A recently and Iyorwuese has been talking with his kinsmen. They are doing it in such a way as not to offend Ortom. They are friends with the governor but they are also careful not to overdo things. As a result, there is a lack of statewide coordination,” he said.

He further noted that while Ortom had not openly endorsed a particular candidate, he had called on his foot soldiers to embrace Peter Obi of the Labour Party.

He continued, “Governor Ortom has already inaugurated an Obi team using his most trusted aides and allies. Former governorship aspirant, Prof Dennis Tyavyar, is chairman of the group. He was Commissioner for Education under Ortom before he stepped down to contest the governorship election.”

In Rivers State, a former PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, is leading the pro-Atiku support base. Alongside a former governor of the state, Celestine Omehia, ex-Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Austin Opara, and an erstwhile federal lawmaker, Lee Maeba, Secondus is playing the good party man in defiance of Wike’s anti-Atiku’s posture.

Expectedly, Governors Ikpeazu and Ugwuanyi are rooting for Obi, using their foot soldiers to avoid the wrath of the PDP for anti-party activities.

Speaking exclusively with our correspondent, the Director General of ‘House to House Campaign for Atiku Abubakar and Ifeanyi Okowa’ in Borno State, Mustapha Shehu, said the initiative would be replicated in the five states.

“The House to House campaign will definitely break not only the G-5 governors’ hold on their states, but will also pose a significant threat to incumbent non-PDP governors. The Borno House to House has proved to be a check on the Wike-sponsored PDP stalwarts, including some in the state Executive. It has also positioned Atiku as the candidate to beat in the state despite the APC governor and the APC presidential running mate, Kashim Shettima,” Shehu said.

Wike had promised to reveal the preferred presidential candidate of the aggrieved governors in January; a pledge that he is yet to fulfil.

[Punch]

The shortage of the redesigned Naira notes has increased in major cities of the country as Nigerians began rejection of the old notes on the denominations of N200, N500 and N1,000.  National Daily went round the city of Lagos on Friday monitoring activities at several commercial banks where many customers were rushing for the new notes. Few banks were noticed to be dispensing the redesigned Naira notes of N1,000 denomination at the ATMs in Ikeja metropolis and its environs. Large crowd were sighted at the few banks dispensing the new Naira notes on long queues.

National Daily, in its investigation, noticed that some customers went to the ATM with multiple ATM cards as the banks imposed the maximum withdrawal limit at the ATMs of N20,000 per day. While some customers brought the ATM cards of their accounts in various banks, some gathered the ATM cards of their friends or relations.  This caused little delay, leading to momentary confusion and argument.

Some bank customers that went to the ATMs with multiple withdrawal cards were identified to be POS operators.

National Daily also observed that few other banks were still dispensing old notes as at Friday. At such commercial banks, there were no crowd, people could walk in at ease and use the ATM at will.

Also, National Daily noticed that the various banks were not paying out new notes on withdrawals at the counters, but were however, receiving the old notes being deposited by customers.

Meanwhile, in certain parts of the state, traders and other services providers have started rejecting the old naira notes as at Friday, while several others were issuing notices to their customers that beginning from Sunday, they will no longer accept payments in old Naira notes.

Some of the banks monitored include Zenith, UBA, GTB, Unity, Access, Lotus, Fidelity and others, in areas within Awolowo Road, Olowu Street, Oba Akran, Akausa, Allen Avenue, Opebi, Ogba, Agege, Oregun Road, Ojodu-Berger, etc.

National Daily also observed that the various banks were yet to reconfigure their ATMs to be dispensing N100 and N200 notes as directed by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the shortage of the redesigned Naira notes co-exists with the shortage and scarcity of petrol, now causing long queues at petrol stations and the banks. Nigerians were thrown into disbelief over the effectiveness of the January 31 deadline issued by the CBN for the swapping of the redesigned notes with the redesigned notes which are yet to be in wide circulation.

[NationalDaily]

 

 
 
 

I am humbled and momentously surprised to have been bestowed the honour of delivering this speech at this august gathering. It is not an honour I take very lightly.

The topic I have been assigned to discuss is “the Seven Habits of a Successful Lawyer”. A topic which in itself presupposes that the person chosen to deliver it, is a successful lawyer! It is however my humble opinion that there are in this venerable body, in this esteemed company, many eminent lawyers and jurists who are much more qualified than my humble self, Kayode Ajulo, to mount this rostrum to do justice to this topic.

 

I am more than humbled by this honour and in accepting it, I stand upon the great and noble shoulders of those eminent men and I can only hope that by the time we are done, those solid and powerful shoulders upon which I stand would not have carried me in vain.

 

Let me quickly recognise those great and successful giants of our trade that the Akure Bar has been blessed with; Ifedayo Adedipe, SAN, Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, Olagoke Fakunle, SAN, Niyi Adegbonmire, SAN, Dr. Olatunji Abayomi, I.O.A Olorunfemi, Banjo Aiyenakin, and many others whose indulgence I crave to proceed.

Again, since the leadership of the Akure Bar has insisted that I present this speech, I crave the indulgence of all who is present to only listen to the message and discountenance any perceived inadequacies of the messenger.

As a lawyer, whenever one is privileged to deliver a speech, it is expected that one would speak from the position of knowledge and authority. And how does a lawyer get this knowledge and authority? It is usually from books. For example, if one is going to talk about Evidence, it is expected that one should read the Evidence Act, legislations, court decisions and books from great jurists who have espoused knowledge in the  course over the years.

 

However, because of the peculiarity of this topic there would be no need to research on any statute or laws as all that needs be said must be from one’s experience gathered over the course of one’s practice as well as the examples laid by legal giants over the years. (Now you would understand my insistence that my noble seniors are much more qualified than myself!)

For the above reason, our authority therefore would be to a larger extent the styles and practice of the illustrious names I have earlier mentioned and many others. To fully and adequately deal with this topic therefore, it would make sense and would probably be downright unforgivable if one fails to mention the heroes past of this noble profession of ours; titans who achieved great success like FRA Williams, SAN, Richard Akinjide, SAN, G.O.K Ajayi, SAN, Ibrahim Abdulahi, SAN, Philip Umeadi, SAN, Okeaya-Inneh, SAN, Ajibola Ige, SAN, Bankole Aluko, SAN, Chike Chigbue, SAN, Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, Miskom Pueppet and a host of others, all of blessed memory.

 

Likewise, there are heroes present like Folake Sholanke, SAN, Afe Babalola, SAN, Ebun Sofunde, SAN, Gboyega Awomolo, SAN, Ebun Shofunde, SAN, Wole Olanipekun, SAN, Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, J. B. Daudu, SAN, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, Kanu Agabi, SAN, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, J. K. Gadzama, SAN, E. C. Ukala, SAN, Yunus Ustaz Usman, SAN, Adetokunbo Kayode, SAN, Adeniyi Akintola, SAN, D. D. Dodo, SAN, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, Wale Babalakin, SAN, Emeka Ngige, SAN, K. T. Turaki, SAN, Chris Uche, SAN, Ajibola Aribisala, SAN, P. N. Ikwueto, SAN, Ifedayo Adedipe, SAN, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, SAM Ologunorisa, SAN, J. S. Okutepa, SAN, Dayo Akinlaja, SAN, Prof Akinseye-George, SAN, Mahmud Magaji, SAN, Femi Falana, SAN, Olumuyiwa Akinboro, SAN, Dame Priscilla Kuye, Dr. Olatunji Abayomi etc. These eminent personalities are those whose lifestyles and work ethics one should study if one is to become an effective lawyer.

 

Without sounding immodest, I must give myself a pass mark because of all these great names I have reeled out; I have made it a point to have good relationships with many of them either directly or indirectly. Some of them are my direct mentors, while some are indirect mentors because even from a distance at times, I have taken pains to watch and learn from them. I am also fortunate to have started my practice at the Federal Ministry of Justice which indisputably is the largest law office in the whole of Africa whereat I was quite lucky to have interacted with the best lawyers, which has aided my training in the profession.

My brief is to interrogate the station of a lawyer, and with respect, not just any lawyer but a successful lawyer and the habits that characterize the life of such a lawyer, The Cambridge Dictionary defines “habits” as something that one does often and regularly, sometimes, something done so routinely that it even borders on the unconscious.

 

Let me state at this juncture that the legal profession is one of the most prestigious professions in the world and although in the strict sense of the word, practicing Law encapsulates more than just litigation, as it expands to cover areas such as Corporate & Commercial, Oil & Gas, Investment & Finance, Real Estates and the likes. However for the purpose of this presentation, the focal point must be in tandem with the general circumstance of Akure Bar, the legal practice that involves litigation and Court proceedings.

With your kind permission, I would like to rephrase our topic of discussion and say that we should not be talking about being a successful lawyer, but rather an effective lawyer because an effective lawyer will, in due course, be a successful one.

Success is quite relative. And success is not a destination; it is a journey, a process. What one lawyer considers as success might be radically different from what another considers as success. For example, the idea of success to Eyitayo Jegede, SAN might be when he becomes Governor of Ondo State, while to another lawyer, it might be attaining the rank of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

It is therefore best to talk about an effective lawyer, because effectiveness will keep you focused on characters required for utmost and quality productivity. And, to be effective is to be successful in producing a desired or intended result.

Becoming an effective lawyer in the profession may be quite an uphill task. It takes only a person who knows the secrets, qualities and skills required of a lawyer to become effective. The skills a lawyer needs for an ideal career are things he must be deliberate and intentional in working upon and diligently develop over time. As they say, practice makes perfect, and dedication makes dreams come true.

In my limited and humble experience, below are seven highly recommended habits a lawyer must possess if he aspires to be an effective attorney. I have however not listed them in any particular order of importance, as they are all important for an effective legal career.

GOOD COMMUNICATION;
Theo Gold, an author said “Communication is your ticket to success if you pay attention and learn to do it effectively.” He further added that, “communication is one of the major keys to success. When one is able to communicate their position, their plan or their ideas effectively, one is able to achieve much more.”

I am sure we have all heard the popular saying that “language is the major tool of a lawyer”. There is no gainsaying that an ability to communicate clearly and unambiguously is a must-have skill for every lawyer. And this vital skill can be developed by engaging in public speaking.

A renowned Human Rights Activist and learned Silk is an example of a great orator with the ability to argue convincingly in the courtroom, even when he has a seemingly bad case. Frankly speaking, the way you communicate as a lawyer will go a long way to tell what you are capable of doing.

Additionally, in this era of front loading processes, lawyers must also be able to write clearly, persuasively and concisely, as they must produce a variety of legal arguments backed by legal documents. To be able to analyse what clients tell them or follow a complex testimony, a lawyer must possess good listening skills.

A lawyer will also have to convey important ideas in a variety of environments and settings, such as: private conversations, informal emails, phone calls, conference meetings, etc. This makes communication skill one of the most important habits a lawyer must cultivate if he really desires to get to the top of the legal profession.

Therefore, whatever means you have chosen to communicate, as a lawyer who wants to be successful, you must do it effectively.

DILIGENCE AND PERSEVERANCE;
“Diligence is the mother of good fortune, and idleness, its opposite, never brought a man to the goal of any of his best wishes.” “He who labors diligently need never despair; for all things are accomplished by diligence and labor.”

Therefore, another non-negotiable quality of an effective lawyer is diligence. Diligence is the combination of hard work and consistency. To become an effective lawyer, you must not lack this quality because it takes time for a young lawyer to be noticed. An Indian Judge said that “the success of a lawyer depends upon himself”. And, just as Walter Elliot put it, and as similar to success “Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.”

Even studying to become a lawyer takes a great deal of perseverance and commitment – and that’s before you even start work.

When working on a case, you must be diligent and have the perseverance to complete a quality work, necessary to drive the case to a successful finish. Chief Afe Babalola, SAN, comes to mind when talking about a diligent lawyer who spends enough time on a legal problem until he finds a convincing solution.

This is not a profession for lazy people who wants to win without putting in the required works. Even the Good Book says “Seeth thou a man diligent in his ways,  he shall dine with kings and not mean men”! What more can one add?

ANALYTICAL THINKING
Allow me to read this words of an educator, Neil Postman, to you on analytical thinking. He was, though, taking to readers but this cannot be truer for lawyers because it is what an effective lawyer should be.

“To engage the written word means to follow a line of thought, which requires considerable powers of classifying, inference-making and reasoning. It means to uncover lies, confusions, and overgeneralizations, to detect abuses of logic and common sense. It also means to weigh ideas, to compare and contrast assertions, to connect one generalization to another. To accomplish this, one must achieve a certain distance from the words themselves, which is, in fact, encouraged by the isolated and impersonal text. That is why a good reader does not cheer an apt sentence or pause to applaud even an inspired paragraph. Analytic thought is too busy for that, and too detached.”

This is simply to tell you that an effective lawyer cannot be lazy with his mind because the fate of many individuals (life and death, win or loss) depends on his thoughts. To win as a lawyer, your analytical skills must be top notch.

Reading large amounts of information, absorbing facts and figures, analysing material and distilling it into something manageable is a feature of an effective law career. Being able to identify what is relevant out of a mass of information and explain it clearly and concisely is vital.

At times, there will be more than one reasonable conclusion or more than one precedent applicable to resolving a situation. An effective lawyer must therefore have the evaluative skills in order to choose which is the most suitable. This skill can be honed by taking large documents or long news articles and making bullet points of the most important themes.

CLEAR SENSE OF JUDGEMENT;
To become a successful lawyer, the habit of drawing reasonable, logical conclusions or assumptions from limited information is essential. You must also be able to consider these judgments critically, so that you can anticipate potential areas of weakness in your argument that must be fortified against.

Similarly, you must be able to spot points of weakness in an opposition’s argument. Decisiveness is also a part of judgment. There will be a lot of important judgment calls to make and little time for sitting on the fence.

This is the point where the emphasis on the analytical skills comes in. It is where your must be able to combine clear, undiluted and and deep instinct with relevant knowledge and experience to form opinions and make convincing decisions. You must be able to deploy this at an unconscious level to produce an insight or recognize a pattern that others overlook.

And let me state that what can guide you here is the value you are set to give and the goal you are set to achieve. Once you keep these two in mind, your sense of reasonable judgement will come to life.

RESEARCH ;
Two things that I love most about research are captured in the followings quotes.
“Research is formalized curiosity, it is poking and prying with a purpose.”  says Zora Neale Hurston.
And according to Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, “Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.”

Diligent and efficient researches also play a huge role in a lawyer’s day-to-day job. This gives an inkling to whatever situation a lawyer finds himself and also helps to activate other necessary requirements to deploy when faced with a situation. Research is unavoidably important especially when doing the background work on a case, drafting legal documents and advising clients on complicated issues.

In the same vein, being able to research quickly and effectively is essential to understanding your clients, their needs, and to preparing legal strategies. In fact, what differentiates a good lawyer from a bad lawyer is the level of research they put into their work.

PRO-PEOPLE;
I don’t know if this truth is popular or not, but I know it for a fact, through diligent studying, careful observation and detailed experience that you can’t go it alone if you want to establish a fruitful and fulfilling career as a lawyer.

Instead, staying connected to a robust network of your peers and definitely your seniors will help you have an edge in the field. Your network can give you advice, direct you to helpful resources, and even help you land new clients.

Almost anyone you meet can be a possible connection. From your law school classmates to your former clients, every professional you interact with can potentially provide insights, resources, and opportunities that could make a substantial difference in your career.

Law is not an abstract practice. Irrelevant of how well someone does academically, at the end of the day lawyers work with people, on behalf of people, and the decisions that are made affect people’s lives. They must be personable, persuasive and able to read others. In doing this, a lawyer in this present time must be conversant with the use of technology, particularly the social media as an effective tool for great networking.

CREATIVITY;
In one of my researches on the importance of being a creative lawyer, I read this statement and I found it appropriate to introduce this last habit I want to share.

“Law isn’t always seen through a creative lens, especially when compared to more artistic sectors. It’s often perceived as rigid, academic, and perhaps a little dry. Law may be built on precedent, but the profession is ripe for change and is ready for an injection of all-important creativity.”

Sincerely, many people may think that the legal profession provides little outlet for an individual’s creative talent but this isn’t the case. No matter what aspect of the legal profession you choose, you will frequently have to think outside the box to get the job done.

The very top lawyers are not only logical and analytical, but they display a great deal of creativity in  problem-solving. The best solution is not always the most obvious and in order to outmanoeuvre your challenger. It is often necessary to think outside the box.

In actual fact, creativity is highly sought after by clients, even if it remains somewhat unacknowledged by most within this legal profession.

Who is then being creative if not a lawyer, who can read a sentence and interpret it in many parts to give various logically convincing conclusions?

Effective lawyers understand the importance of flexibility and creativity. Innovation is vital when developing effective solutions, but it also allows you to serve your clients better by discovering cost-effective and efficient processes.

CONCLUSION;
The great scientist, Sir Isaac Newton, said that “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Again, I implore any one that aspires to be an effective lawyer to study the lives of great lawyers not only in Akure Bar, but across the country. Listen to them. Read their books. And when the knowledge gleaned from studying their lives is combined with the seven habits enumerated above, such lawyer is on his way to becoming an effective lawyer.

Above all of these abovementioned habits, there is a G-Factor that I have observed working for every effective lawyer, even for these great ones I mentioned in this lecture.

Irrespective of your religion or belief, there should be an acknowledgement of a supreme being that has your back because there are many who have mastered the above stated habits as part of their daily living for decades but still struggle to call themselves successful.

Though, there is public acknowledgment of this notion in Islam, Christiandom and African Traditional Beliefs, I can bet that it does get to a point that even an atheist, in the corner of his heart, strongly desires to experience the guidance of a dimension that is higher than what he knows when his personal ability fails. That is nothing but a humble acknowledgement of a higher level-The God factor.

This I recommend highly to you as you sing the popular Yoruba gospel song to the Supreme One with me. He is the X-factor of my existence, my G-factor of whom I can say that if you walk with Him in faith, the world will hear the best of you:

“Gbemi Soke, gbemi dide
Fami lọwọ soke, ki n ga jù ayé lọ
Ògo ayé mi, jẹ kó yọ jáde
Fami lọwọ soke,
má ma jẹ kó pẹ”

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