By Hameed Ajibola Jimoh Esq.
Nigeria is a democratic State, a nation and a country. Lawyers are professional personnel established under provisions of statutes (in this case the Legal Practitioners’ Act, 2017) by virtue of the Exclusive Legislative List of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended)-herein after referred to as the Constitution. However, Nigeria-lawyers have had a lot of unresolved challenges as professionals! These are the aims of this paper and to call for an urgent intervention of the government and other appropriate authorities in resolving these challenges in order to preserve the sanctity of the legal profession and the administration of justice in Nigeria.
Nigeria-lawyers in my humble view, are in no way of any interest to the Nigerian government, with due respect! Of all the professional professions that I have observed, though, the importance of Nigeria-lawyers can not be over-emphasised, they remain those that our Nigerian government has always cared very less about, with due respect! The Nigerian government though established the legal profession, yet is not interested in how members of the said profession survive and how they thrive rather, government is only interested in setting operational guides such as: the Legal Practitioners’ Act and the Rules of Professional Conducts for Legal Practitioners, 2007 on the dos and don’ts of the legal practice and the legal profession! What offence do Nigeria-lawyers commit in Nigeria to have been this rejected, disregarded, etc. to warrant all these treatments?! Lawyers are regarded as Ministers in the temple of justice. How about the Minster in the temple of justice being treated with injustice in Nigeria?! Some persons have even almost taken over the legal profession by impersonating the Nigeria-lawyers and yet, the Nigerian government is not interested in all of those matters! The association of lawyers in Nigeria (i.e. the Nigerian Bar Association) too over the years has no serious welfare packages for its members, then, lawyers have to survive on their own! The situation of Nigeria-lawyers is now almost like the condition of the chicks that have to survive on their own once given birth to by their hens (mothers)! There is therefore an urgent need for the Nigerian government and the Nigerian Bar Association to take Nigeria-lawyers’ matters seriously especially their welfare and everything that has to do with the lawyers. Even many lawyers in the National Youth Service Corps are less paid or not paid at all! In my NYSC in a government’s agency as my Place of Primary Assignment (PPA), I was paid N10,000.00 per month but I was only paid at every three months to make the sum of accumulated N30,000.00! It is that worse for the Nigeria-lawyers! No wonder the emolument packages meant for the judiciary are very low till date since over the past 12 years and the Nigerian government is doing or has done nothing in resolving the issue while the emoluments of other arms of government are nothing near compared with what the judiciary takes home at the end of the day! Even some judges complain about lack of payment of pensions and other entitlements upon retirement! Little does the judiciary realise that this ill-treatment has been since they were lawyers and that they are still part of the Nigeria-lawyers! There are lawyers in the National Assembly as elected officers but they have not deemed it fit to pass a Bill to cater for the welfare and independence of the judiciary! These are some of the ugly and pitiable conditions of the Nigeria-lawyers! No doubt that survival in the legal profession in Nigeria is a serious struggle and like survival of the fittest! These challenges call for an immediate but urgent solution as well as government’s intervention in ameliorating the ugly living of Nigeria-lawyers due to poor welfare and professional practice opportunities! Even in Nigeria, one as a lawyer might find it very difficult to succeed in term of career opportunities available in the legal profession if one does not have one connection or the other with one or more politicians or influential persons, except by the support of God Almighty! The young lawyers face much more difficult situations than can be imagined and their families who have labored very much on them have to maintain a continuous self-survival condition because their trained professional lawyer can even barely survive on his own without his parents’ financial contribution to him!
Therefore and finally, I humbly call on the government and the NBA to continue to have regards for Nigeria-lawyers in order to aid their survival within the legally permissible legal practice as opposed to dubious practice in order to build a more assuring successful future of lawyers and to achieve the goals of lawyers being important parts in the administration of justice in Nigeria.