NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION: A BODY IN DIRE NEED OF CORPORATE GOVERNANCE – Peter Akinnusi

At this year’s National Executive Council, NEC meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA in Ilorin, Kwara State, the President of the NBA, Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud (SAN), seemed hard-pressed to stress the need to introduce corporate governance and efficient structural management at the Bar. This much has been apparent for quite a while now.

 

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He had previously engaged leading consulting firm, KPMG, to carry out an audit, and the report which was presented at the very same NEC meeting did not make for palatable reading. It highlighted the apparent lack of corporate governance culture in the NBA, and how much the NBA was riddled with structural defects ranging from blurred hierarchical lines to less-than-ideal financial and revenue management, as well as anaemic standards for staff job descriptions, evaluation, and training.In other words, the need to inject corporate governance into the NBA has been long overdue.

However, this is not the time to dwell amidst excessive words. If the issue is a lack of corporate governance, then a solution needs to be adopted as soon as possible. It is also apparent that this is a Paul Usoro shaped void that KPMG has drawn attention to. For the doubter who may inevitably see this as quite the brazen statement, I will implore you to quickly explore the empirical evidence to back up this claim.

Paul Usoro, SAN, is not a strange face to those in the legal professional community. His record of accomplishments is an eloquent testament to just how accomplished he is, not just in the courtroom but in the boardroom as well. He embodies a large trove of corporate governance not just from his time at the helm of his own massive law firm but from active years spent on the governing boards of several blue-chip companies.

It would be ridiculous to overlook him in the search for the right candidate to effect much-needed reforms. If you were to hold him up against any individuals who hold an interest in becoming the next NBA President you would see the others wilt rapidly in the face of his knowledge and cognate experience of top-notch corporate governance.

Cast a glance at his successes as board member for the following companies, Access Bank, Airtel, PZ Cussons, Premium Pensions, Marina Securities, and even the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company, and you will see that this list reads like the who’s who of the corporate world, across varied sectors, each well established as well as recognised. Which of the individuals trying to make a claim for the NBA Presidency can honestly say they have accomplished half of these, nay, a fraction of these?

People say experience is the best tutor, they may not be completely right but they are on to something there. Having assumed leadership roles in places where corporate governance is enmeshed, deep within the DNA, you can tell that his experience as a brilliant purveyor of corporate governance is enviable. Each of these places has always been run with corporate governance not just in place but regulated by international standards.

Another commendable aspect of Usoro’s leadership style is his commitment to training and mentoring. It is not hard to see him pressing for the same values he holds dear to be inherent in those who have sat under his tutelage in one form or the other. Corporate governance training is one endeavor he would clearly be committed to providing within the Bar. In essence, you cannot deign to give what you do not have, he has loads of corporate governance experience to give. If you do the math, the outcome is clearly a huge win for the future of the NBA.

 

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Paul Usoro, SAN

 

As a learned silk, imbued with these virtues, it is an exciting thought to entertain how much the emerging NBA will benefit from Paul Usoro’s corporate governance prowess. If an entity as enormous as KPMG made the recommendations it did to the Bar, we can all be rest assured that with him leading, we can be completely assured of a much more accomplished institution.

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