Monday, 26 October 2015

The Career Prospects of the Twenty First Century Nigerian Legal Practitioner.



The given topic comprises of rather general terms which, I perceive, collaboratively tackles the theme: The Survival of the Modern Nigerian Lawyer in a world getting faster and faster.
 Globally, the twenty first century is characterised by spontaneity, change, speed, increased efficiency and effectiveness, development, serendipity, novelty, freshness....These have saturated almost every human concern. Also in this light, the world has witnessed a rather interesting stretch in the scope of tasks that are well within the career prospects or can be part of the job description of the twenty first century lawyer. Fortunately, this diversification equally applies to the twenty first century Nigerian lawyer.
Photo from the movie 'The Great Debaters'
Before this flash age, lawyers merely played the roles of litigators and intermediaries between the state and society, as advocates, advisers, solicitors, teachers and custodians of the law. This is more so the case as they focused primarily on the ‘practice of law’- litigation. However, the late Larry E. Ridstein in his paper ‘Practising Theory: Legal Education for the Twenty First Century’ speculated that in the twenty first century lawyers may fill five new roles.[1]
Photo from the movie 'The Great Debaters.'
These five specified roles were those of: Collaborator(carrying out transactional work alongside professionals from other fields  in multidisciplinary establishments instead of just purely legal ones); Manufacturer (developing and producing off-the-shelf, brilliant solutions for as wide a market as possible as opposed to only drafting and interpreting documents for his/her clients); Law Maker (managing and overseeing the enactment of new regulations such as in the course of the mediation process); Information Engineer ( as an information broker; using  the increasing ability to make more accurate predictions of legal results; the use of computers in predictive and data analysis; creation and maintenance of legal software); Capitalist (making money from being able to play a support role in the research and evaluation of the probability and values of legal cases). Fortunately, most of these- and much more- are already in play. Interestingly, this does not mean that the modern legal practitioner has to abandon his/her regular tasks as these additions fortify his capability to be more efficient and effectiveness in his/her delivery.
However, increasingly, in the twenty first century, some lawyers are moving out of law firms and court rooms into new legal practice settings as leaders in government and actors in political scenes. They are also moving into quasi-legal roles in lucrative part-legal and part-business ventures such as freelance research and journalism by way of putting up their well researched articles in the regular print media, online media and even for publications at international conferences. It is pertinent to note here that the litigation license obtained at the Law School is not as important as the solid background of good legal training- undergraduate, post graduate and personal studies.[2]
Consequently, in today’s Nigeria, there are so many legit paying ventures that the Nigerian lawyers can participate in within Nigeria and internationally, within the scope of the legal profession- especially as it is now strapped around the growing interest and need for computer literacy; internet compatibility; speed and creativity.
As a legal practitioner in the twenty first century, the first points of call as regards career prospects is serendipity, openness, respect out of courtesy- instead of an unwise over reliance- for vintage solutions.  By this, I refer to a constant appreciation and articulation of the evolving society- and the world at large- in order to always be in the know of the needs of the current age and the legal- and professional-solutions that are needed – and more in demand.
With this taken care of, such a practitioner can then move on to his role as manufacturer of these needed solutions. Some of these unique solutions which are in demand in the twenty first century are instant responses to occurrences in our community (both nationally and internationally) outlining the legal issues, consequences and recommendations. Furthermore, there is the need to make those instant moves through instant methods which are twenty-first century compatible and well sought after media such as blogs, vlogs and status updates on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
More in this light, the lawyers may avail themselves as cyber secretaries or assistants for freelance research jobs online wherein they are paid to conduct research on certain themes and titles by interested parties over the internet on websites such ‘www.freelance.com’. Also the lawyer can connect interdependently with other professionals (both legal and non-legal) within Nigeria and internationally over social networks to organise webinars to sensitise the public on some salient issues and solutions (both legal and non-legal) that they should know about. They could also establish, maintain and monetize an online electronic audio-visual libraries- which may also host written text materials- either on a wide range of subjects-or something specific- thereby making available simpler, faster and more comprehensive materials for public consumption. An instance of this is the United Nations Audio-Visual Library on ‘www.un.org/law/avl’.

Further in this light, the rigours of human rights activism are further simplified as legal practitioners and activists can carry out their activism through amassing support for human rights courses through social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Googleplus) and the websites of Non Governmental Organisations such as Amnesty International on ‘www.amnesty.com’. Thus, with constant contribution to humanity through novel methods, a Nigerian lawyer simultaneously creates more publicity for himself and his services and further prepares himself for job opportunities in various capacities in international establishments such as the United Nations, African Union and international courts and tribunals. 
It is fair to point out that this stretch in the economy of the legal profession is not just a function of the time that we are in, but also that of the demand and necessities that have risen in this time. Clearly and increasingly, a reasonable portion of these are demands cannot be met by learned gentlemen, but by the learning ones who are not scared to embrace serendipity in a world that hardly ever stops changing. As such the legal education system at the Nigerian Law School- as well as those of other jurisdictions- inclines towards this by adopting a rather proactive academic curriculum which engages the Nigerian Law Students academically, practically and mentally in preparation for the very vast- and still diversifying- window of opportunities and possibilities that are already here.
Globally, the twenty-first century lawyer’s career prospect is marked by change – and the embrace of that which is fierce, and increasingly stretches from the convenient and familiar. Then again, as Lord Denning put it, ‘... if we never do anything which has not been done before, we shall never get anywhere. The law will stand still whilst the rest of the world goes on and that will be bad for both.’
Nonetheless, the Modern Nigerian Lawyer is bestowed with a greater need and responsibility to be cautious in the light of knowing when, where and how to draw the line in order to preserve the professionalism in the legal profession even while seeking and producing modern solutions in this modern age. But then, it is fair to say that the professionalism and survival of the modern Nigerian Legal Practitioner seems to have stretched from being just black and white to incorporate several other fresh and interesting shades of grey.



[1] Lee, Keith, Five New Roles For Lawyers in the 21st Century, http://associatesmind.com/2013/03/07/five-new-roles -for-lawyers -in-the-21st-century/(retrieved on 08/05/2013).
[2] Penus, Dana, Out of Practice: The Twenty- First Century Legal Profession

Saturday, 24 October 2015

The girl who could have been my sister

photo sourced from http://sciencenordic.com/what-drives-prostitute
Just outside my hotel, across the road, in the dry chilliness of central Abuja, I saw a light skinned well curved woman run after a dark coloured SUV that was zooming off. The street was well lit but lonely. And Catholic establishments like guest houses and pharmacies flourished on both sides. I saw her strut back to where she stood. I watched her strike a pose under one of the street lamp poles as the sepia tone rays lit her up like a candle. My heart froze when she looked at me. I spun on my heels and walked briskly into the hotel and back to my room where I watched from a 'safe' distance, the window. I would see many more versions of this midnight beauty in the course of my brief stay in Abuja. And the celebration of my new career will not be as sweet because beside me is a girl who has been left no choice than the prickly mercy of brief insensitive lovers. A girl whose heart may never know aspirations beyond breakfast and dinner, or worsestill, just breakfast. And yes, this same girl, came to Abuja because, like me she once thought that it held greater chances of a better life. This same girl who could have been my friend, my neighbour, hero, mother, sister. This same girl whose stare terrifies me. Whose presence makes me uneasy. Just outside my hotel, at some place the Abujans call Wuse, I saw a dream that has been dazed once too many times by life, but still insists on reliving every night in the chilly dryness of Abuja, smiling beautifully beneath the sepia light with SUVs and smaller autos stopping and zooming off. Some day, inshallah, I shall cross those roads and take her hand to some place other than Abuja, and show her something better than her streets, bigger than the love she has known, brighter than her nights... because she is my sister. And interestingly, she is part of my part of my life.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Write Me a Forever


Riding with Danjuma feels like charging into forever on a comet-off-course Mouka, foam padded, red-wine-serving, air-conditioner-fitted and citrus air-freshened. It is like the feeling of warm chocolate flowing down the torso just before it meets the ice-cold tickly tongue of a naughty lover. It is like the rush of heat from a virgin body that shocks the world with its candid cravings. In a perfect world I would never have such cravings. But Danjuma strangely inflames me. Shockingly, his existence makes me bisexual.
No man taps my core the way he does. No man before him ever tapped me at all. I had once thought it was the things he said to me. At another time, I thought it was the way he said them. The way he is firm with me, instructing me without warning, steering me unbothered that I could get hurt - perhaps knowing that it is impossible. He knows how to take me to the edge just before ‘crazy’.
And he knows to insist that I study. He will not have any of that ‘I’m not in the zone’ nonsense.
When my last exam timetable came out, he zapped us from Abuja to Jos to study. Lodged in his two-bed room flat for a week, breakfast and lunch he catered for. Dinner was either a carrot or an apple each and compulsory exam quizzes, followed by reading the Psalms (from my Bible) in alternate verses right there in his room. With my phones confiscated, and the almost eternal pin-drop silence punctuated only by Westlife tracks and the occasional door squeaking to usher in hairy Danjuma, stripped to his briefs bearing a glass of juice or water, it was an interesting week.
Sexually, he knows how to make me want things that I ordinarily abhor - things that, in a perfect world, should never cross my mind.
He loves me enough to see through my shakara.
You see, Danjuma loves like a festival, then a single sword - cutting, cutting, and cutting through. Like a hundred metal wings, then like a single rose. He insists that we are boys. And boys should embrace every chance to make their mistakes early on. He says that boys are like stainless steel. No scars no smudges, fierce enough to mock our youth, our scars healing almost instantly. That was in Jos.
In the ‘perfect world’, Port Harcourt, we stopped being boys because they said we had outgrown our dreams. They said that we were too manly to pretend that we were back in Jos, cuddling in the prickly Harmattan. In the perfect world, we should not talk all night. And Muslims should not be caught reading the Bible, let alone in alternate verses. Here also men have no business being men’s desktop photos or screensavers. As such no one can explain the burning passion between two men without a splash, if not a full bath, of disgust at the picture. To keep the world perfect, we agreed, they should neither know nor see. Passions unseen are passions ‘undisgusting’.
So we are boys everywhere but here.
We can see the world everywhere else and be whatever we want, however we want. But here, I am sane. I am Nkemdilim Okolo.
I desperately needed to confide in someone here - anyone who was not Danjuma who could objectively validate my insanity by telling me that I had struck gold, and should never let go. But I am wise enough to share only the version compatible with the perfect world.
You see, the version I proudly use is:
 ‘An Abuja flower has stolen my heart, and I want to run away with the flower. We want to travel the world. Besides, the flower is too Muslim for my Catholic parents. And I’m too Catholic for the flower’s Muslim world.’ I am always very careful to avoid pronouns.
‘Hmm. How can you dream of travelling the world with this madness when there are more pressing things to attend to? ’ most of the people I spoke to said.
The rest of them simply turned it into a joke. Others added that I was aspiring to join and birth a fresh Boko Haram troop.
I think closely about everything save the Boko Haram bit.
Perhaps this is the universe conspiring to tell me that Danjuma is a tooth cavity I can avoid. This has been said too many times to my hearing. And like a man I must listen to the voice of reason. As if this is not sour enough, my being effeminate is becoming a bigger wahala than it was, between my girlfriend Fisayo and I.
‘A man should be firm and better comported,’ Fisayo said to me one morning after I had finished arguing with my kid sister Amara about whether or not Omosexy’s sexiness had a shelf life.
‘Just see you,’ Fisayo continued, ‘throwing your hands about, clapping and arguing like a little girl.’
I eyed her and did not say anything. She has been nagging her – and my – life away since I got my ears pierced a few months ago. Saturday. No Sunday. Or was it Monday? No, it was definitely over the weekend.
I had just returned to Port Harcourt after having passed my degree exams. It was extraordinary to have hit that milestone, but somehow I was too dazed to be festive. I did not pre-inform anyone of my returning. I was the only one in my class who did not post any Facebook status update. I had drafted one: ‘Forever is a string of 'right-now's’. It had absolutely nothing to do with my having graduated, and I had not the energy to explain it either.
One of those days I was in bed, very, very, very close to drifting away when Fisayo jumped on me from nowhere. Iska - the part of me that will have none but Danjuma - yanked her off. She landed with a crash, knocking over the side-table. Regret flushed through my insides as I rushed to help her up.
‘Nkemdilim, what’s the matter?’ she asked, confusion in her eyes.
‘Please get up.’  I said as I stood above her, offering her my hand.
Amara came barging into my room. ‘I heard a crash,’ she said
After an awkward moment, and ignoring my outstretched hand, Fisayo struggled up, snatched her bag from the table and left. She heard words that I did not say. That I did not have to. She did not know that my body was now repelling everyone else. She must have thought that she was still the one key that could unlock me. She used to be. That changed.
I was at Combo Hotel that night with Danjuma. He was in town for business engagement. We had agreed to talk about our relationship. I was trying to walk away. We did not have much luck talking. His tongue started a tsunami on my nape. Our hearts lashed out at each other. We were naked as our mothers made us. That night he put ice behind my earlobes and sunk a cold needle through them. The evening should have been a silent sober one but Danjuma wanted more. He is about the only one who can command Iska the way that none other can - in the way that I shamelessly like. Blood trickled down one of my ears. It felt like sweat. The sweetness of his kiss choked the sting as the needle pushed through the cartilage. It was a crazy night. We did not break up as we had planned.
The Iska in me grows less and less afraid with every encounter with Danjuma. I hate them – Iska and Danjuma – when I am sober. But in my wildness, I love Danjuma more than I had ever imagined that a person deserved to be loved, and Iska breaks free and rails like a hurricane at everything.
When I returned home to Amara and our parents the night I was pierced, I still had the taste of Danjuma on my tongue, and the feel of him in me. I would not have anyone tarnish this heaven. I skipped dinner and went straight to bed. No one had noticed the coloured studs in my ear lobes. No one noticed that I walked on clouds.
Iska frightens Fisayo. He is not the boy who had sexted her for two months, not Nkemdilim. But then, Iska is nothing like the rest of me. He is unrealistic, overgrown, crazy but submissive, yearning, in love with Danjuma. Nkemdilim, on the other hand is firm and everything else a man should be. Nkemdilim still wants Fisayo. Part of me still needs to have her. This dynamic drives me crazy. Knowing loving two worlds uncontrollably without either ever sitting down to learn or listen to the other: that I cannot trade this madness for something more unilateral, more comprehensible. Knowing that at every given time I could be one of either peacefully and completely, or both at once savagely, at war.
It’s not about the sex with Danjuma: it is the peaceful certainty in his eyes. He carries on like every moment is all we are about, like I am really part of his world - a world that had been solidly built prior to my arrival, without me but for me.
Whenever I am with him, I find an unshakeable validation that I have found my place and I need not move any further.
Danjuma is my dream, the man I want to be like when I grow up. He is also reality to a devout wife, muse to a trusting daughter and pillar to an observing church. Danjuma is a dream that came true too soon. Yet I love that he marks me the way he does.
 When Fisayo noticed the studs glinting in a selfie I sent to her on Whatsapp, she stopped messaging and called back.
‘Nkemdilim?’ she asked almost in a whisper.
‘Yes babes,’ I answered, thinking we were on whispers now.
‘Are you gay?’
My heart skipped. ‘How can I be gay and in love with you?’ shot out of my mouth before I could think of anything. Danjuma says it so many times.
‘Why are you wearing studs then?’
‘It’s just fashion, babes,’ I said. ‘Lots of men do. Nothing to it.’ I was still, sweating and unable to blink.
When I told Danjuma about our conversation, he asked me to travel to Dubai with him for a week.
‘Didn’t you hear what I just said?’
‘Come with me.’
‘You can’t be serious.’
‘Come with me.’
‘She’s suspicious enough as it is, Dee. Besides I can’t just up and leave, man.’ I said.
‘I’m not asking you to up and leave. I’m asking you to do what you need to do: to come with me.’
I said I thought he was being unreasonable, he asked me whether I had an international passport. Crazy man.
I still have to figure out what it is that we share. Stamp on a label of some sort. Try to keep my life tidy, the way it had been before Abuja. Before he kissed me. Before I kissed him back. Before he made me laugh. Before I had preferred him to my classroom. Visiting from campus every other weekend. Before Aisha, his wife, almost knocked me down on campus with her SUV. Before all three of us had that awkward lunch-date when she bathed me in tomato sauce. And he hit her so hard across the face. Before she cursed me. Before she kissed the floor begging me to leave her happiness alone. Before she offered to trade me all of Abuja for her husband, in tears.
Danjuma has never been mine to keep. He is Aisha’s forever. Yet he is not mine to give up. Initially, when he came after me, I ran. I wanted to go far enough to escape him, to escape all this. But I also wanted to be caught. Now my conscience is ravished by guilt. My heart roars in passion. My life spins in complexities. I hate myself for ever desiring, for wanting this madness, for basking in this mistake.
I have walked away from him one time too many. Not just for Aisha.
I am a man with a girlfriend. Sex with her takes my breath away, It fills my mind with ideas for now and next time. We are smart. We play rough but we play safe- no compromises.
I am a scholar fated to be a star. Structured to be lightning, a standard, even a god.
But being a boy feels light years better. Danjuma says, ‘We are boys naked in the sun, like our mothers made us. Boys who dare to dream, to write their own forevers, live out their creeds! ’
It was Fisayo, my girlfriend, who informed Amara that my ears had been pierced. Amara ran into my room, and took a long stare at me through squinted eyes. She then knelt by me to feel my earlobes. I looked into her eyes, hoping that she would not judge me.
‘Awwww...your studs are pretty’ she said. ‘Do you have them in blue?’
‘I’ll get blue ones for you’
‘Sweet!’ she said as her thumb rubbed gently across one of the studs.
She does not know jack about Danjuma. She knows that I am in love with Fisayo. And she thinks I am Superman. I search for a suitable style to explain that I am not - that I have never been.
My phone rings. It is Danjuma. Fisayo just walked into the room. I feel her eyes stabbing me. I shut my eyes. My heart lashes at the world, pounding my insides. I do not understand anything.
It is the tenth call today. I wrench the battery out of the phone. Saying good bye to Danjuma is not an option, because I have never been successful. God help me. Please, write me this forever. He is calling my second phone.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Nelson Mandela on Prison and Solitary Confinement

Time: 1962
Place: Pretoria Local, South Africa

'I was issued a standard prison uniform for Africans: a pair of short trousers, a rough khaki shirt, a canvas jacket, socks, sandals an a khaki cloth cap. Only Africans are given short trousers, for only African men are deemed 'boys' by the authorities.

I informed the authorities that I would under no circumstances  wear shorts and told them I was prepared to go to court to protest. Later, when I was brought dinner, stiff cold porridge with a half tea spoonful of sugar, I refused to eat it. Colonel Jacobs pondered this and came up with a solution: I could wear long trousers and have my own food, if I agreed to be put in isolation. 'We were going to put you with the other politicals', he said, 'but now you will be alone. I hope you an enjoy it.' I assured him that solitary confinement would be fine as long as I could wear and eat what I chose.

For the next few weeks, I was completely and utterly isolated. I did not see the face or hear the voice of another prisoner. I was locked up for twenty-three hours a day, with thirty minutes of exercise in the morning and again in the afternoon. I had never been in isolation before, and every hour seemed like a year. There was no natural light in my cell; a single bulb burned overhead twenty-four hours a day. I did not have a wrist watch and I often thought it was the middle of the night when it was only late afternoon. I had nothing to read, nothing to write on or with, no one to talk to. The mind begins to turn on itself and one desperately wants something outside if oneself on which to fix one's attention. I have known men who took half a dozen lashes in preference to being locked up alone. After a time in solitary, I relished the company of even the insects in my cell, and found myself on the verge of initiating conversations with a cockroach.

I had one middle-aged African warder whom I occasionally was able to see, and one day I tried to bribe him to talk to me. 'Baba' I said, which means Father, and is a term of respect, 'can I give you an apple?' He turned away and met all my subsequent overtures with silence. Finally , he said that 'Man, you wanted long trousers and better food and now you have them and you are still not happy.' He was right. Nothing is more dehumanizing than the absence of human companionship. After a few weeks, I was ready to swallow my pride and tell Colonelt Jacobs that I would trade in my long trousers for some company...The place of the freedom fighter is beside his people, not behind bars. '


Sourced from Page 334 of
Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Happy Independence Day, My Nigeria

Dear Naija,

It's 55 years already. By God's Grace we are still an existing nation, fabulously flaunted in the face of the world. With you, its been like everything is to be feared, and in some sweet way, expected. Loving you has taught us that faith is everything in the face of challenges that seemingly have no solution. Being with you has given us the hope that possibilities are only a dream and an action away.

Today, we recall that inspite of the imperfections that humble us, we have a rich history. We have a great story that is similar and perhaps more interesting than those of seemingly greater nations. It was argued to my hearing once that we are richer without knowing because we measure our success against the parameters of civilisations external to ours. I have also caught myself thinking that because we are not so aware of our individual strengths as citizens, and the boundless possibilities that could stream from channeling our strenghts and abilities towards one version of one purpose, our sustainable development, we help each other delay us.

On Winnie Mandela's wedding to the late Nelson Mandela, her father adviced her accordingly. He said, 'If your man is a wizard, you must become witch!'. Nelson argued, in his book, Long Walk to Freedom, that it means that 'you must follow your man on whatever path he takes'. Our man, our president. Our man, our expectations as individuals. Our man, our dreams and visions as a people. Our man, our 'unity of purpose' like our president puts it. 

The last thing I shall expect from the human race, or Nigeria, is an over night success. An overnight success has no story, and is often no success at all. 

My naija, I love you in a way that commands my heart not to give up on the promise that the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain. I love you in a way that I can't help the certainty that we are unto something and somewhere more glorious than what we have seen or are now seeing, and where we have been and now  are.

Nigeria is not just the two-colour flag, coat of arms or history books. Nigeria: the hardworking men and women who insist on being Nigerians, shamelessly, bravely and proudly, doing the right things even in the heat of seeming impossibilities and dire threats. Nigeria: the little children I saw yesterday wading firmly and powerfully through thigh deep flooded community roads hard as half-cooked oatmeal  in Owerri. Nigeria: the lesbian mother who has to deny her liberation and wear all the caps to put food on her children's table. Nigeria: the handicapped dad who has to make shoes manually in the scorging Port Harcourt sun. Nigeria: the albino who has to squint in the sun and cope with the several people staring at him. Nigeria: the retired civil servants who spend their pension and lives funding and fueling the dreams of their children. Nigeria: the black man with a master's degree who sold his car to pay his way to scrub floors and sweep streets in the west because that's the most accessible version of success that has been preached to him. Nigeria: the school leaver in Italy who prostitutes involuntarily, lost every night, beside herself, because she can't find her way home. Nigeria: the secondary school girls who are yet to be found. Nigeria: the Nigerian graduates still insisting on making it, exceptionally, here or anywhere else in the world, in the best of styles and methods, in the best of things. Nigeria: the entrepreneurs, the artists, artistes, film makers, authors, scientists. Nigeria: the government.

Nigeria: our independent state. Happy Independence Day my Naija. It really only gets better. Days after today. Years, perhaps this one. Gradually, progressively, sustainably. Inshallah.

Warm regards,
Nnanna.