Driven by a need to have befitting edifice that would among other things shore up its revenue base, the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), has shown stronger appetite for property acquisition and development and thus it has unveiled a six-storey complex that would serve as its Lagos Secretariat.
The umbrella body of all legal practitioners in Nigeria has also commenced construction on its Abuja Secretariat, which is proposed for completion before the end of the present administration.
While the Lagos NBA House, is located along Ozumba Mbadiwe Street, Victoria Island, Lagos or Adeola HopeWell Street, Victoria island also in Lagos, the newly launched project within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), is situated at 24, Oro- Ago Street, off Muhammed Buhari Way, Garki, Abuja. The two projects run into billions of naira.
Packaged under Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangement by Stabilini Visinoni, one of the Bi- Courtney Group chaired by Dr. Wale Babalakin, the new structure in Lagos will no doubt boosts the status of the largest bar in Africa and also shores up its revenue base.
Historically, NBA’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Gbolahan Gbadamosi said that, Alao Aka Bashorun’s administration started the process. Through BOT, a building currently being occupied by a commercial bank in Lagos was built.
According to Gbadamosi, the administration of Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) took the first step by negotiating with Chief Wale Babalakin’s construction company to have the new building. Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN)/Lanke Odogiyon administration operated from the bungalow building. Thereafter, the bungalow was demolished and the national secretariat of the association moved to 96B, Medical Guild Close, off Bode George Street, off Ajose Adeogun Street, Victoria Island. The administration of Olisa Agbakoba started to run the national bar from the same place. But a new building was rented in Abuja at 3, Aguleri Street, off Gimbiya Street, Garki, Area Eleven. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN)’s administration also ran a dual national secretariat until the Lagos office was closed officially.
He further said that the present headquarters of NBA, located at 24, Oro- Ago Street, off Muhammed Buhari Way, Garki, Abuja was bought by Akeredolu’s regime. Joseph Daudu (SAN) who succeeded Akeredolu partially ran the bar from Aguleri before it moved permanently to Oro-Ago Street.
The administration of Wali completed the Lagos NBA House and at the occasion witnessed by Alegeh and the former General Secretary of NBA, Obi Okwusogu (SAN) among others Wali noted that, ‘’I must thank our colleague, Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN) for what he has done in putting up in collaboration with the NBA. The terms are clear. It is a Build, Operate and Transfer. I thank Wale for the industry he has put into this”.
He added that, “It is the grace of God to start from foundation and see the completion. And also we have to put on record the gratitude to all past presidents of NBA. It is a testimony to the continuity of governance at the Bar that leadership or government of NBA continues. Leaders come and go but the continuity of NBA project persists. Just like you know, by His grace, within the next two years in the life of the next administration, we will be in Abuja to inaugurate the NBA House, which this administration has started.”
Wali equally expressed gratitude to the Director General of the Nigerian Law School, Mr. Lanre Onadeko, as well as the immediate past Chairman of the Council of Legal Education,. O.C.J. Okocha (SAN) and other members, for granting access to the new building through the law school premises.
Speaking further on the difficulty in creating access to the property, Babalakin observed: “This building was landlocked. The only way we could go in was if we were able to create that access you see now. And with Wali’s and determination and the Director General of the Law School/the Chairman of Council of Legal Education, they made it happen.”
Babalakin also expressed gratitude to the former Director General of the Nigerian Law School, Dr. Tahir Mamman, for his invaluable role in making the project possible.
The lawyers’ body also performed the ground breaking ceremony for its building of the NBA house in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. The project, which was kick-started by the immediate past administration, has been adopted by the current regime, which has also inaugurated the NBA Property Development/ Building Committee with a mandate to deliver the project within two years.
At the ground breaking ceremony in Abuja Wali remarked “with more than 100 branches spread across the 36 states, the NBA deserves a magnificent edifice of its own. This building project is going to cost a lot of money to complete it, but we believe it is doable. We can raise the money.
“I therefore use this opportunity to call on all our members both in the public sector and private practice to support this laudable project. I assure all our members that all the financial assistance we will receive from them shall be prudently managed and accounted for.
“Our dream is that the NBA House Building Project is completed within the life span of this administration. I have no doubt in my mind that we can do it. Yes we can. But then, to get it done, calls for sacrifice and commitment. Nobody builds in comfort; building is a task that calls for sacrifice. Therefore the NBA House Building Project will call for sacrifice from the National Officers of the NBA and the Members of Secretariat staffs”, Wali remarked.
He also expressed gratitude to “the NBA Property Development Building Committee Chairman and Members for the hard work and commitment they have shown so far in this project. I also thank the Speaker of the House of Representatives Aminu Tambuwal, who is the Chairman of the NBA House Fund Raising Committee and his Members for their commitment to this project and for the funds they have raised so far. I thank the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Mohammed Adoke, SAN, the official leader of the Bar for finding time to come and I trust that he will contribute his own quota for ensuring the realization of this project”.
To Alegeh, “the NBA House Project shall be a primary focus of this present administration. ‘‘I consider this project to be of monumental importance to the NBA and it would be unwise to leave the project unsupervised.’’
Other members of the re-constituted committee to work with Wali are: D.D. Azura, Yola; Chief Gweke Akudihor, Warri; Mrs. Safiya I. Balarabe, Lafia; and Emmanual Ubua, Ogoja as Secretary. Also on the list are: Chidi Onyuike, Onitsha; Efefiom Ekong, Calabar; Yinka Farounbi, Ikeja; Folake Abiodun, Ibadan and Murtala Kankia, Katsina.
This news item originally appeared on Guardian news