*We will embark On A New Chapter
*Calls EBF Members To Come Home
*Speaks On Automatic Membership

The new Chairman Governing Council of the Eastern Bar Forum Anene Uba Francis has immensely thanked members of the Forum for their supports and contributions towards a successful election and Quarterly Meeting held at Justice A.I Umezulike Auditorium, High Court Complex, Enugu State.

Anene who expressed his gratitude in his inaugural address promised to be committed to the task ahead and never to betray the trust the people have reposed on him as the Chairman.

Read his full statement:

OUR EBF, OUR NATION; BY OURSELVES AND FOR OURSELVES.

INAUGURAL ADDRESS OF UBA ANENE, ESQ, CHAIRMAN OF THE GOVERNING COUNCIL OF THE EASTERN BAR FORUM OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION AT JUSTICE A. I. UMEZULIKE AUDITORIUM, HIGH COURT COMPLEX, ENUGU ON 24TH JULY, 2021.

Let me start by thanking the good people of Enugu State for a very warm welcome to our beloved Coal City. I believe I speak the mind of most members of this forum here when I say that Enugu is our city, our home. It was the capital of the Eastern Region before and after independence and uptil the rupture of the civil war in 1967.

It was a melting pot of the many ethnic groups and nationalities that made up the old Eastern Region. Here, in spite of the differences in ‘tribe and tongue,’ we lived in peace as one. What has happened to us in this country? I will come back to that later.

Let me also thank most heartily the Nigerian Bar Association Enugu Branch and her sister branches of Obollo Affor, Nsukka, Eziagu and Oji River, for a superlative hosting.

Last but not the least, my debt of gratitude go to the outgoing Governing Council, ably led by S O Longwilliams, Esq. They came into office at a time the ship of the forum was floundering, in a crisis of confidence occasioned by the very awkward 2018 NBA national elections in which members of the forum appeared to be working at cross purposes to one another, to the embarrassing detriment of the EBF and its candidate. That they managed to hold the ship together and steered it away from the precipice of despair and distrust into the safe harbour we have today is no mean achievement. They most certainly deserve the applause of all members.

Then I come to this moment, what else can I say to you my Lords, learned senior advocates, my friends, brothers and sisters and distinguished colleagues than thank you. Thank you very much indeed, for this incredible demonstration of trust and confidence. Let me assure you straight away that I will never betray your trust.

As you all know, our EBF is, without doubt, a success story and all of us have every reason to be proud of its pride of place among the comity of forums in the NBA. Yet, you will agree with me that, even the best could be made better; as anything that stops improving starts decaying.

It is my thinking, therefore, going forward, that our EBF needs to come home to its members. It is increasingly beginning to look aloof and somewhat disconnected from the people it was supposed to serve. It is certainly the case that since the coming of the 2015 NBA constitution; the EBF appears to have continued to operate on the old delegates model when its parent body has gone digital. We need to find ways and means of bringing it up to par, without damaging its core values.

As a first step in this regard, it seems to me that we may have to do away with the requirement for individual membership registration. Like the NBA, membership should be automatic for all lawyers from the Eastern zone upon payment of EBF annual dues and levies, renewable annually in like fashion.

The decision making process ought also to be opened up further, to better accommodate the views and opinions of all members in matters that affect them. The electoral procedure could be more transparent and more inclusive, and there is every need to work towards the full participation of all members in the process, subject to the usual preconditions of payment of dues and levies as at when due.

I now come back to our beloved country. The other day England narrowly lost to Italy in the finals of the Euro tournament. As events unfolded the main story became, not really the outcome of that nail-biting encounter, but the racial abuse of three players of colour (meaning black), who unfortunately missed their spot kicks. Many of us were justifiably outraged at that turn of events.

More than any other racial group, it is we blacks who are, by far, at the receiving end of racism and discrimination. We abhor it, we criticise it, we fight it. Yet, strangely, back home, we engage in it, we instigate it, we enourage it. Open any social media platform today in Nigeria and what do you see? A barrage of insults and hate being hurled across our ethnic divides. Call it tribalism, call it ethnicism, call it clannishness, the underlying factors and cosequences are all the same.

At its root is the feeling by one group or the other that they are superior to the others. These claims are not usually grounded on any empirical or scientific evidence. They are subjective in nature, yet highly detrimental to the growth and wellbeing of any society. This is why we are growing in hate rather than love, growing backwards rather than forward.

As a consequence, we have a nation filled to the brim with anger, frustrations and a volume of mutual hatred enough to last all of us a thousand lifetimes. And yes, the Nnamdi Kanus’, Sunday Igbohos’, Asari Dokubos’, Tompolos’ and Ganiyu Adams….

We need to stop! We have to stop. Make no mistakes, outside these shores, in the world around us, we are all, individually and collectively, nothing but bloody niggers; the wretched of the earth; scorned and derided across the globe for our inability to manage our resources and ourselves and the consequent poverty of our people and our environment.

So, as we embark upon a new chapter in the history of our EBF today, I invite each and everyone one of us here today to do some collective soul searching. Nigeria is our nation; the NBA, the EBF, indeed the legal profession and the judicial arm are ours. As we make this bed, so shall we lie.

It does not matter how Nigeria came into being. Most nations on earth are, like us, accidents of history. It is what we make of our nation and of our profession that matters. Nigeria can be good and work for all of us if we make a conscious and sustained effort to jettison these false, poisonous and divicive tendencies and instead work for a nation built on the principles of liberty, justice and equality.

Thank you.

Uba Anene, Esq.
Governor of the Eastern Bar Forum.

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