From Priscilla Ediare, Ado Ekiti

Mr Olumide Akpata, President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), has faulted the recent establishment of six new law school campuses by the National Assembly, thereby increasing the number to 12 in the country.

He pointed out that the existing campuses were grossly underfunded and that it would be wrong to establish more putting into consideration their present conditions.

The NBA boss also appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to broker a truce with the striking lecturers of the Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU), so that they can return to work and save the country’s universities from total collapse.

Akpata made the remarks on Monday, in Ado Ekiti, at a press conference heralding a three-day NBA Legal Education Summit holding in Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD) with the theme: “Reimagining Legal Education in Nigeria”.

Faulting how the National Assembly had allegedly politicised the creation of law school campuses, Akpata said that ‘the law schools are grossly underfunded. It has one of the worst budgetary provisions.

‘At present, the school has six campuses. It is pitiable seeing the conditions of the six campuses. It is like somebody trying to play the game while trying to set up another six when the existing ones are underfunded with some lawmakers trying to locate in their constituencies.

‘It is wrong for anyone to politicise the establishment of law school because it is too important to be seen as a constituency project,’ he said.

He called on the federal government to end the ongoing nationwide ASUU strike.

‘Our government should stop paying lip service to the issue of the strike. The government needs to get serious about how it wants to run education in Nigeria right from budgetary allocation.

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‘You can’t overemphasise how important 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 the government to resolve the issue if they think the education of the Nigerian children is still important.’

The NBA president said the summit was conceptualised to intervene in legal education and fashion out policies that can inject sound legal education into 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.’

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.

Discussants at the summit will include Vice President Yemi.Osinbajo, SAN, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, Prof Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, and Chief Afe Babala, SAN.

Others are 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.