The Annual General Conference (AGC) fees have never been affordable, especially for young lawyers.

As a Branch Chairman, I struggled to see why the Branch as a whole would contribute to the conference fee cost of members willing and who had paid their registration fees. What are those extra costs, you might ask? Well, you have travel costs and daily transportation to the venue(s), daily upkeep, and of course, the party that each Branch must host for its members. 

Even though I objected to these events, I was compelled to attend a few AGCs at my Branch's expense which I wasn't happy about.

The fact is that the AGC fees cannot be made too affordable because the NBA is so big and there is no way to cater for or accommodate its more than 500 thousand members. 

There would be chaos if the NBA AGC fees were minimal not even considering the other costs involved. 

I recall that during my time as chairman of the NBA Ikorodu Branch, I was given a bill of nearly 1 million naira that the Branch spent to go to Abuja with less than 25 of its members for the NBA AGC that year. I nearly had a psychotic breakdown because I knew that the money could have been used to better the lot of more than 200 of my members instead of being used for just about 25 members. 

Nevertheless, we must understand that the combined funds spent by NBA national, NBA Branches, and individual members of the Bar to host and attend NBA AGCs is money down the drain.

Some may say that the AGC presents to them a social environment, to travel and have a holiday and to meet old colleagues but these are all selfish reasons that add very little value to the real purpose of having an AGC in the first place. 

An AGC's value is in its intellectual and legal reform outcomes. There is no need for justice reform summits or the like if the AGCs are properly utilized.

Besides every Branch has its law week so let me propose the following, and these are not new ideas: 
1. Focus on State Law Weeks as opposed to Branch Law Weeks;
2. AGCs can be held once every 2 or 4 years while AGMs can be held yearly and virtually;
3. We can try out Sub-regional Conferences once every other year that the AGC is not holding;
4. Break down the registration fees and charge them per day or session attended instead of one bulk registration fee.

There are many ideas out there but we need to apply ourselves to forward thinking. Not everyone needs to attend these conferences; it is at most a jamboree anyway because we spend too much time on protocols, receiving special political guests, and mentioning the names of all the prominent people in the room while cutting down the time for speakers to deliver their well-researched papers. 

No time for real debates and exchanging ideas but lots of time for parties and campaigns for NBA positions. 

If you are struggling to be part of the 2024 NBA AGC holding in Lagos State, don't waste your time and your money! You don't need to be there if you can't afford to be there!

An opinion by Bayo Akinlade (Former Chairman of NBA Ikorodu Branch, 2018 - 2020).

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