By Dayo Benson
The just concluded Nigerian Bar Association NBA Annual General Conference AGC, in Calabar, Cross River State Capital , had the trappings of colour, carnival and conviviality. Obviously nothing less was expected from the state , what with it’s soaring tourists destination identity.
For lawyers, estimated at over 10,000 who kept the serene city awake from Sunday August 25 to Friday 30th, when the conference lasted, the experience transcended normal Bar Conference.
NBA President Okey Wali SAN’s description of the Calabar Conference as the best so far probably captures general feelings of participants.
Wednesday Gala night which held at the expansive fully air-conditioned conference venue which host Governor Liyel Imoke, described as the “biggest in this part of the world’’ was the highlight of the event.
According to the Governor ,it cost Cross River a whopping N157m to provide the cool,cosy, comfort ambience befitting of such an event. It was a night of few speeches but more of wining and dining and live carnival. It was indeed an oppurtunity for lawyers to unwind after the eloquent and sometimes grandiloquent deliveries of speakers at the opening ceremony and subsequent sessions.Lawyers and non lawyers who started arriving at the venue from 7pm which the Gala Night was scheduled were welcomed by a mini cultural dancing troop outside.Warm admiration and appreciation of the display did not guarantee direct access to the chilly embrace of the multiple entry hall.
Beefy and well built security operatives were busy frisking everyone with deserved politeness.What many were probably not expecting came on after some performances by a female lead life bound. The surprise of the night was preceded by a short documentry on Calabar carnival 2012 .It was a street carnival at its best beamed on the two giant screens inside the hall.The documentry which featured some notable Nigerian artists and stand up comedians unraveled the attraction of calabar as a compelling tourists centre.
The already enthralled audience got more than what they asked for when the live carnival train stepped on the stage in a larger than life costumes.Their sublime super colourful display saw a sizeable segment of the audience stepping foward with cameras, Ipads and mobile phones of diverse shapes and sizes to capture the display.
The message passed at the end of the captivating show which lasted about 20 minutes was that Calabar 2013 December carnival promises much more.
Cross river Attorney Gnereal Attah Ochinke captured the mood of the night aptly when he recalled how lawyers have relished the hospitality of Calabar.He also commended NBA for a successful conference.
NBA President noted that Calabar hosting the AGC was a best decision of the NBA.
proud Governor Imoke affirmed that the State is running an economy driven by tourism and hospitality. He stated that the theme of the conference was meaningful.
For the five days that the conference lasted,the city was a bee hive of activities.Hotels and cab operators experienced an unusual patronage.Same for food and drink joints.
Indeed, the busiest part of Clabar was the Tinapa achepelago, a seperate world on its own.
The undulating landscape was too massive for conferees and others who had one item or the other to sell to occupy. It is as easy to go inside the mega complex as it is to miss your way while navigating the space.Tinapa is still waiting to be explored.The state Government is already constructing another link road that will make access easier.Also under construction is a modern conference centre.
Lake side hotel, located inside Tinapa provided accomodation for NBA officials and some senior lawyers including few State Attorney Generals.The hotel bar was a relaxation spot for revellers at the bar.Some of them spent the days drinking rather than attending any session of the conference.
Clabar hospitality was incomplete without ladies who were available for those interested in what they had to offer. Some lawyers were not left out in the amoral game of the flesh.
Undoubtedly,the 53rd AGC of the NBA tagged Calabar 2013 with theme ‘’Law,Leadership and the Challenges of Nationhood in the 21st century Nigeria” was an experience worth reliving.
Among several other activities ,the class 1985 of the Nigerian Law School honoured their own who had distinguished themselves.Among them was the outgoing Director-General of the school, Dr Tahir Maman.
The set was hosted by Cross River First Lady Mrs Obioma Liyel Imoke, who is a member of the class.The Class Chairman Chief Emeka Ngige SAN noted urged members to participate in the school’s 50th anniversary as well as it’s endowment fund.
Similarly, class 2003 of the Law School held a lunch to mark its 10th anniversary in which NBA President made a brief Appearance.
As lawyers departed Calabar Friday,it was with a feeling of satisfaction.Despite the usual flight delay at the Margret Ekpo Airport which is under renovation,the Carnival train was at the departure lounge to bid them bye.