The President, Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Olumide Akpata, has advised the National Assembly not to perceive the establishment of Law School as constituency project, by arbitrarily embarking on further decentralisation of the training grounds for law graduates.
Tactically faulting the recent establishment of six law schools by the Senate, thereby increasing the tally to 12 in the country, Akpata said the Senate should bear in mind that the existing campuses were grossly underfunded and that it would be wrong to establish more under this context.
The NBA President also appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to broker truce with the striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) so that they can return to work and save the country’s ivory towers from total collapse.
Akpata spoke in Ado Ekiti on Monday at a press conference heralding a three-day NBA Legal Education Summit holding in ABUAD with the theme: “Reimagining Legal Education in Nigeria”.
Discussants at the event will include Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN); Minister of Education, Mallamm Adamu Adamu; the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, Prof. Abubakar Adamu Rasheed; and Chief Afe Babala (SAN).
Others speakers include: the Chairman, Nigerian Council of Legal Education, Chief Emeka Ngige; Director General, Nigeria Law School, Prof. Isa Hayatu Ciroma; and heads of various universities across the country.
Condemning how the National Assembly had allegedly politicised the establishment of law school campuses, the NBA boss posited that: “The law schools are grossly underfunded. It has one of the worst budgetary provisions.
“Presently, the school has six campuses. It is pitiable seeing the conditions of the six campuses. It is like somebody trying to play game while trying to set up another six when the existing ones are underfunded with some lawmakers trying to locate them in their constituencies.
“It is wrong for anyone to politicise the establishment of law school, because it is too important to be seen as constituency project,” he said.
Urging the federal government to end the nationwide ASUU’s strike, Akpata said: “Our government should stop paying lip service to the issue of strike. Government needs to get serious about how it wants to run education in Nigeria right from budgetary allocation.
“You can’t overemphasize how important the education is in the life of any person. It is easy to ask teachers to go back to work, but how do you do the right thing to motivate them?
“Education at all levels must get the seriousness it deserves. Let the government fulfil its own side of the pact. Education is too important to be left to politicking and grandstanding.
“Government should quickly do what is necessary to open our schools for normal activities. Strike and school closure is becoming a tragicomedy, it has reoccurred over and over again. With time, the brand ‘Nigerian trained’ may become an albatross, because employers will start asking how you were trained.
“So, it is important for government to resolve the issue if they think the education of the Nigerian children is still important.”
Akpata said the Summit was conceptualised to intervene in the legal education and fashion out policies that can inject sound legal education in the country.
“In this Summit, we are going to be looking at our curriculum. The curriculum that I encountered over 30 years ago is still the one in operation. We will also look at technology. Technology has taken over the law practice. We are also looking at our teaching methodology, quality assurance and the issue of the decentralisation of the Nigerian Law School,” he added.
The Chairman, 2022 Planning Summit and ABUAD Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Damilola Olawuyi, stated that the summit is geared towards resetting the system, since policy makers in Nigeria have come to the realization that the legal education system has declined geometrically.