1. It is wonderful to be among friends and to see familiar faces at this Annual Bar Dinner of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Ilorin Branch.  It is always a special time when I get the opportunity to be with you, luminaries of the legal profession, to dialogue about ways of uplifting the practice of law for the benefit of Nigerians. It is also doubly satisfying when that interaction takes place here in Ilorin. I thank the Chairman, M.A.I Akande Esq, the Chairman Dinner Committee Suleiman Atolagbe Esq, as well as Yemi Shittu Esq, the Dinner Committee Secretary, for inviting me to this occasion.

2. Being a lawmaker, you might to say I stand at the opposite end of the law spectrum from you lawyers, but the truth of the matter is that we all want the same thing, and that is an effective system of justice in Nigeria. My role in making laws and the fact of having lawyers in the family, may also mean that I have a keen sense of where legal practitioners are coming from and what they are trying to achieve. I therefore have a deep appreciation for the lawyer’s view on things. I always cherish occasions such as this, because they are another opportunity for deepening the relationship between us, and to make for a more successful engagement.

3. We know that the Bar Dinner is held annually as a platform for members of the Ilorin Branch to interact, integrate and unwind after a busy legal year – and very much deserved, too. This is also a good opportunity for members of the Branch to come together to reflect on the last 12 months and to chart the course in preparation for the coming year. What were the achievements of the Ilorin Branch in 2018? What were the areas of challenge, and for which better strategies might be devised for 2019? And significantly, what were the milestones of the closing legal year?

4. Since my arrival here, and from occasional dialogues over the past months, I have been made aware of some of the achievements and milestones of 2018. I am sure we will get to hear more of these before the night is over.  This brings me to the 2018 Bar Directory, concerning which I have the honour of being the Chief Launcher at this dinner.

5. The Bar Directory will not only enhance professional identification among legal practitioners in the Ilorin Branch, it will also serve, primarily, to provide information to the general public, as a Go-To place for locating the business information and contact details of over 600 Bar members. This will further bridge the gap between lawyers and members of the public requiring their services, thus helping to foster better relationships and improve the administration of justice in the jurisdiction.

6. In the words of Edwin Rekosh, “You cannot have justice without advocates for justice.” This, primarily, refers to you, the lawyers. We need lawyers to help consolidate the process of bringing development to Nigeria, and for catering for the welfare of the people. This is because deep legal knowledge and reasoning are among the skills that go towards promoting development and eradicating poverty. As lawyers, you stand at the vanguard of upholding the rule of law, which is globally emplaced as a priority in development assistance. It is not for no reason that policy makers increasingly emphasise the rule of law as a factor in development strategy.

7. As lawyers, you must see your role as drivers of socio-economic development in Nigeria; and as champions of fundamental human rights. It is worth noting that the law profession itself is able to attain its highest potentials only when the rule of law is enthroned. It is in the enlightened self-interest of all of us, therefore, for the rule of law to thrive in the Nigerian democratic system.

8. The coming year presents a very potent test for the role of lawyers in deepening our democracy. The 2019 General Elections are virtually upon us, and lawyers must play their part in consolidating democracy and justice – before, during and after the polls. We call you legal eagles, for society looks to you to help curb official excesses and to ensure accountability in governance.

9. You will agree with me that, in order for us to have accountable governance, the principle of Separation of Powers must be respected. This, of course, means that the system of administration of justice – the Judiciary – represented by your good selves, must act independently of other arms of government, namely the Executive the Legislature. I therefore urge you all to abide by your creed as members of the Bar, when confronted with disputes, contestations and tribunals that may arise from the election process. Nigerians are counting on you as defenders of the realm, and as champions of democracy and the rights of the people.

10. It is not an occasion for long speeches. And so, I would like to end this by congratulating the Chairman and indeed all members of the NBA Ilorin Branch on another stellar year. I wish you greater success in 2019 and the coming years.

Have a wonderful evening.


Abubakar Bukola Saraki MBBS CON (pronunciationⓘ; born on 19 December 1962) is a Nigerian politician who served as the 13th president of the Nigerian Senate from 2015 to 2019.[1][2] He previously served as the governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011; and was elected to the Senate in 2011, under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), representing the Kwara Central Senatorial District, and then re-elected in the 2015 general elections