LAWYERS4CHANGE

Saturday, April 4, 2009

NBA PROBES FORMER LEADERS OVER CONFERENCE ACCOUNTS


1st Counsel: (waving a bound document excitedly to two colleagues of his). Have you seen this?

2nd Counsel: Oh, is that not the Income and Expenditure Accounts for 2008 Annual Bar Conference?

1st Counsel: Oh yes you are right. I’m talking of the one prepared by the accountancy firm of ADE, ADEBAMBO ADELALU & Co

3rd Counsel: You seem excited, even agitated, anything wrong with the report?
1st Counsel: (Hotly) A lot is very wrong with it. In fact God will judge accountants very severely.
3rd Counsel: What happened? Are you saying their report is fishy.
2nd Counsel: Even if you don’t like the word fishy, the truth is that it is a report not acceptable to many lawyers. You see at the last National Executive Council meeting of the NBA, at Oshogbo the report was rejected
1st Counsel: Yes, he is right. The report which I personally consider stupid and a cover-up of the shenanigans of the organisers of the horrible 2008 conference of the NBA in Abuja was rejected.
3rd Counsel: That’s not the information I gathered about the report. Some lawyers who attended the Osogbo NEC meeting told me that the auditor’s report prepared by ADE, ADEBAMBO ADELALU & Co sailed through.
2nd Counsel: They have misinformed you. If the report sailed through, why did the NBA set up another committee headed by Mrs. Offiah S.A.N to probe the conference accounts?
1st Counsel: (to the 3rd counsel). Have you gone through the report?
3rd Counsel: Yes I have read it
2nd Counsel: And what do you think of it?
3rd Counsel: So, so
1st Counsel: What do you mean by that?
3rd Counsel: I mean that it is okay. It appears fair.
2nd Counsel: (dumb-founded). Yee pa! That report is okay?

1st Counsel: Let me ask you just one question. Please, one question
3rd Counsel: I am here
1st Counsel: Did you attend the 2008 Annual Bar Conference.
3rd Counsel: No, I was bereaved that time.
2nd Counsel: One can forgive you. If your had come for the conference, you cannot in good conscience accept this report as being fair and okay.
3rd Counsel: How do you mean?
1st Counsel: So many things are wrong and questionable in the report.

Look at conference bags and branding for example. Can you imagine they say they paid 20 million naira for 8,000 bags. That means each bag cost 2,500:00. They branded the bags for 1 million naira, that is at the cost of N 250:00 per one. This cannot be acceptable.
Not only is that the quality of the bags supplied is very poor, the most somebody will buy one in the open market cannot be more than N1,250:00 naira. Also the number of conferees who actually got those conference bags could not more than one or two thousand at most. In fact the auditors themselves wrote in their report that “the number of bags supplied cannot be ascertained”. Then talking of the cost of branding, how can you do that for N250:00 per piece? It is simply outrageous. For such a huge number, the cost at the very most cannot be more than N50:00 per piece.

2nd Counsel: See how much they claimed they spent on accommodation. A whopping N18,452,298 million. I understand the accommodation was only for Executive Members and Members of the Conference Planning Committee. So NBA leadership is luxurious living.
3rd Counsel: That may be so. But surely you can’t claim that they inflated the cost of hotel accommodation.
1st Counsel: Don’t be too sure my friend. But even if it is not inflated, why should the NBA leaders stay in five-star hotels for the conference at the expense of the bar? Remember most of the members from whose pocket the treasury of the NBA is filled stayed in two star hotels during the conference.
2nd Counsel: Look at the security expenses heading. According to these people, they spent almost two million naira on security. Can you believe that? Are there receipts for this? Look at the Annual Bar Dinner heading. Just for buffet menu and drinks at Sheraton Hotel for one night, they claimed they spent five million, six hundred thousand naira. Remember that this event was restricted to a select few and not to the generality of the conferees. Look at item 4 on that heading, here they said the local organizing committee alone spent seven million and two hundred thousand naira on food and drinks. How many are the members of this LOC who were spending an average of one million per day, on food and drinks alone? Were they feeding on caviars and N50,000 per bottle wines and water?
1st Counsel: There are many questionable figures in that report, to make one sick, even mad. How can any reasonable auditor declare that the figures are okay and reasonable? Look at the Technical Committee Expenses Heading. Just for traveling expenses to Abuja and Lagos meetings and refreshments, that Committee allegedly spent five million naira, less a hundred thousand naira. Their flights are local flights, remember. And how many are the members of this technical committee and how many meeting did they attend? Look at the Election Materials heading. They claimed they spent two million naira to produce ballot papers. Ah, cry the beloved country. How many people participated in the election, which was even a delegates’ election. All the voters were not up to two thousand people. How many ballot papers were actually printed? If the number is 2000, that means each ballot paper cost N1000:00 each! And if up to five thousand, that means, each ballot paper is N400:00! Isn’t this fantastic? Can you believe this? Okay, look at the production of conference documents and stationeries supplied heading. According to the report, ten thousand copies each of seven different documents were printed at the cost of seven million naira. There are many questions begging for answers. First, why produce ten thousand copies of documents, when you ordered for only eighty thousand conference bags? Two, where are the conference materials? Only very few conferees got conference materials and hardly the full compliment.

3rd Counsel: (Sighed deeply) Hmmmmph!

1st Counsel: To say the least, the audit report is unsatisfactory. There are many sore thumbs sticking out in that report. I am sure the Offiah Committee will do a thorough job in the discharge of their duties.

2nd Counsel: I pray they do a good job. It is pathetic that on a conference the organizers claimed to have spent almost one hundred and sixty million naira, ninety-nine percent of attendees suffered great hardships and deprivations, so much so, that the popular opinion was that the conference was the worst ever in the history of the NBA. I think the leaders of the NBA then, particularly Olisa Agbakoba and Rafiu Lawal-Rabana, President and Secretary respectively, who allegedly excluded other executive members of the National Committee in the control and organization of the conference, should be ashamed of themselves.

3rd Counsel: In my opinion, the best thing to do is to await the findings of the Offiah Committee

1st Counsel: Sure we’ll wait. But I tell you nobody who paid for the 2008 conference and suffered the way we did, during the conference cannot have good opinion about the managerial competence and integrity of those men. Whether you like it or not, the truth is that the setting up of the Offiah Committee by the NEC of the NBA is already an indictment of their integrity.

3rd Counsel: Were the two of them, Agbakoba and Lawal-Rabana at the Osogbo NEC?

1st Counsel: Lawal Rabana was there. He tried to defend some positions but even the mosquitoes around were not impressed. As for Agbakoba, the stranger who became king, he did not come. In fact since he handed over to Akeredolu the new President, the stranger has not attended any NBA function. And I am sure he will not attend the next NEC meeting taking place in Sokoto in May 2009.

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