By: Bello Hussein Adoto
Portable and lawyers do not make a good match at first glance. But when you look at it again, the two may have more in common than they would admit. Aberrant lawyers are responsible for this similarity.
Many scoffed at Portable when he showed up to perform at the 2023 NBA Annual General Conference in Abuja. They consider him uncultured, despicable, and unworthy to perform in a comity of learned men, renowned for their refined elegance. Matching Portable and lawyers should have been an inborn error that ended as a stillbirth. But it didn’t. Portable performed… to the dismay of many.
However, events before, during, and after the conference suggest that the two may not be a mismatch after all. Portable fought with Area Boys in Ogun state last year. That same year, some learned silks were busy looting bags and conference souvenirs in Lagos.
This year, the men in wigs behaved like Portable and turned into what Mrs. Onikepo Braithwaite called “learned fighters.” Footballers representing Abuja and Onitsha branches of the prestigious NBA allegedly engaged in a free-for-all, not with their wigs and silks of course, but you get the point. A few days after the conference, the executives were busy exchanging polemics about how money changed hands, à la Portable and Kogbagidi.
Lawyers are honourable, distinguished, and prestigious people. They are renowned for their refined intellect and wit, poise and conduct. They represent the best of most societies. That’s why they have a professional code of conduct for members. In 2021, the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) sanctioned 11 lawyers for professional misconduct; five were disbarred. That’s the conservative nature of the profession.
The problem is not with lawyers or the NBA per se; it’s with the system that doesn’t seem to take discipline issues very seriously, especially outside the court. If the 2022 looters of Lagos were caught and reprimanded, and the errors that led to loot were addressed, we may not have had fighters of Abuja in 2023. I’m glad a coach and a player have been punished for the Abuja embarrassment. At least we will not have to expect a royal rumble in 2024!
It is tough managing the largest bar in Africa. There will always be aberrant lawyers despite the existence of professional codes of conduct. Lawyers, after all, are humans too. But that they are humans doesn’t mean their gross misconduct is allowed to fester. You either punish bad behaviour, or it becomes a vice that perishes the system that failed to enforce order.
When some lawyers start to behave recklessly and executives exchange dirty laundry in public, and we don’t see any decisive step to correct it, you will realise why Portable is a good fit for their conference. It’s the open season. Let Portable celebrate with the silks. Let Ìdààmú àdúgbò dance with ìdààmú àgbejoro. It’s the clown meeting the gown.
Bello Hussein writes from Ilorin and can be reached via email@example.com.