• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

NBA Women forum examines various paradigms of success for female lawyers at the 4th annual General Conference & IWD Event in Lagos

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The prestigious Oriental Hotel, Lagos, was the venue for the 2024 edition of the Annual General Nigerian Bar Association Women Forum (NBAWF) under the theme, ‘Beyond the Balance Sheet: Redefining Success for Women in Law.’

The Conference was also a commemoration of the 2024 International Women’s Day and Month. Its theme was in line with the IWD’s theme for 2024, namely, *’Inspire Inclusion.’*

The event was graced by a wide cross-section of Nigeria’s female legal community; they came from the Bench and at the Bar, as well as from academia, business, government and the media.

The NBA President, Mr. Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN was represented at the occasion by the Association’s first vice-president, Mrs. Linda Rose Bala (who later delivered the NBA President’s goodwill message on his behalf).

In her address of welcome to delegates and guests, the Chairperson of the Conference Planning Committee (CPC), Mrs. Folashade Alli, SAN, described the theme of this year’s gathering as apt and timely, as it comes at a time when the scales of justice are mostly tipped against the female gender – in a society in which, too often, success is measured only in material terms – to the exclusion of considerations such as personal and professional fulfillment and the attainment of a healthy work-life balance, as well as one’s present impact (and future legacy) on society.

This gathering, Alli stated, was convened to challenge the conventional metrics of success as far as female lawyers are concerned, and to do away with the constraints these metrics impose on women in their quest for equity and professional advancement. The work of amplifying female voices within the Nigerian legal ecosystem, the CPC chairperson added, was an ongoing one, as indicated by the insightful topics lined up for discussion, and the pedigree of speakers and panelists – individuals who over the years have established themselves as inspirational role models and trailblazers.

In her address of welcome, the Chairperson of the NBAWF, Mrs. Chinyere Okorocha, spoke in the same vein, adding that women were historically no strangers to natural and man-made barriers (especially in a patriarchal society such as ours). According to her, their ability to overcome these challenges with resilience and grace – as well as to develop the vision that enables them to maximize opportunities for growth and advancement – formed the key objectives of this pivotal Conference.

Mrs. Alli’s and Mrs. Okorocha’s speeches were followed by goodwill messages from dignitaries such as the Attorney-General of Lagos State, Mr. Lawal Pedro, SAN; the First Lady of Ogun State, Her Excellency, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun (as represented by Mrs. Oyeneyin); the Country Vice-President/National President of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Mrs. Amina Suzanah Agbaje (as represented by Mrs. Olufunke Oduwole of FIDA’s Epe Branch); and the President of the African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA), Mrs. Caroline Ibharuneafe.

The choice of Keynote Speaker for the 2024 NBAWF Annual Conference and IWD Event was as inspired and ‘out-of-the-box’ as the Conference theme. Although originally trained in Law (with undergraduate and advanced degrees from the University of Lagos, Nigeria and the London School of Economics and Political Science in the United Kingdom to show for it), *Bolanle Austen-Peters* is one of those who ‘got away’ (professionally speaking) and lived to tell her story.

Mrs. Austen-Peters’ well-received keynote speech was followed shortly thereafter by a Fireside Chat during which she fielded an array of questions from members of the audience. Moderated by Mrs. Okorocha, the Chairperson of the NBAWF, the Chat revolved around issues such as overcoming fear (of public speaking); a lack of confidence; poor negotiating skills; and the question of mentorship (and how to gain access to credible mentors, as well as the respective obligations of mentors and mentees), among others.

The business end of the 4th Annual General Conference of the NBA Women Forum came to an end on the conclusion of the 6th session, as the Conference Hall buzzed in anticipation of a fun evening at the Gala Dinner & Awards Night.

*NBA WOMEN FORUM 4TH ANNUAL CONFAB ENDS IN LAGOS WITH SHOW-STOPPING GALA DINNER & AWARDS NIGHT*

The 4th Annual General of the NBA Women Forum came to a close with a Gala Dinner and Awards Nite at the prestigious Oriental Lagos Hotel. By all accounts, it was a glamorous affair with many highlights, as attendees – dressed in gorgeous evening wear – dined, wined, networked, took photos with old and new friends alike, and danced to their favorite contemporary Nigerian pop music numbers

The opening speeches of welcome were given by the Chairperson of the NBAWF, Mrs. Chinyere Okorocha and that of the Conference Planning Committee, Mrs. Folashade Alli, SAN.

After that, it was the turn of the Dinner Chairperson, in the person of the renowned arbitrator, Mrs. Funke Adekoya, SAN, who spoke to the theme and essence of the 2024 NBAWF Conference and IWD Event with her usual insight and eloquence.

Mrs. Adekoya’s speech was followed by the Keynote Address, delivered by a representative of the Guest Speaker, Dr. Olasupo Olusi (CEO of Nigeria’s Bank of Industry).

The Dinner and Awards Night also featured a number of goodwill messages from Mr. Chukwuka Ikwuazom, SAN (Partner at Aluko & Oyebode); Mrs. Joyce Oduah (Partner at Joyce & Okey Oduah LP); Mr. Tobenna Erojikwe (Partner at the Law Crest, and Chair of the NBA’s Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, ICLE); and Mazi Afam Osigwe, SAN, a former national General Secretary of the NBA who is the Senior Partner at Law Forte.

Of the evening’s many highlights, there were many gestures of appreciation to individuals, corporate organisations and entities whose contributions ensured the success of the Conference programme. Recognition was also given to the Forum’s pioneer Governing Council members, as well as a Special Session during which the patrons of the NBA Women Forum were unveiled and honoured. Among them were Nigeria’s first female SAN and matriarch of the Bar, Chief Mrs. Folake Solanke; the first (and so far, the only) female Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Aloma Mariam Mustapha, CON, CFR; Hon. Justice Mary Peter-Odili, retired Justice of the Supreme Court; the only female President of the NBA in its long history, Mrs. Priscilla Kuye, SAN; Mrs. Hairat Balogun (the first female General Secretary of the NBA); immediate part Chairperson of the NBAWF, Prof. Oluyemisi Bamgbose, SAN; and a former Chairman of the NBA’s Section on Business Law (SBL), Mrs. Mfon Usoro.

There were yet more highlights, such as a raffle draw during which prizes were won by a number of Dinner guest. The guests were treated to a pulsating dance performance by the Wow Factor group, as a highly enjoyable evening, and an unforgettable Conference experience, finally drew to a close.