By Ogechi Okorie
The Nigerian Bar Association has linked Portable’s presence at the association’s 2023 Annual General Conference held on Thursday to entertainer Obi Cubana’s partnership with the programme as the headline sponsor.
Some lawyers staged a walkout at the concert of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) tagged ‘Unbarred’ when the star street singer, Habeeb Olalomi popularly known as Portable appeared on stage as the guest performer.
The incident happened early Thursday at the Velodrome of the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja, the country’s capital, where some legal practitioners had fun with the vibes as they danced to ‘Zah Zuh’ crooner’s performance.
Netizens lashed out at the NBA for inviting Portable to perform at their show that consisted of “learned” individuals adding that the association had by that singular act not helped its reputation and reduced themselves to “razz”.
Others say the show was a joke and an embarrassment to the law profession known for conservatism.
The lawyers had a one-week long NBA annual conference which started on Sunday with the theme: “Getting it Right and Charting the Course for Nigeria’s Nation Building.”
However, the National Publicity Secretary of the NBA, Akorede Lawal, in his reaction during an interview with PUNCH on Friday, dismissed the rumour making the rounds that the artiste was paid to perform.
He explained that latter’s Cubana Group brought Portable because he was one of his products (Odogwu bitters) brand ambassadors and because being the headline sponsor came with bringing a guest artiste to perform at the ‘Unbarred concert’ that usually has lawyers irrespective of their status to close the conference.
Lawal said, “We did not pay a dime to Portable for the concert. It is the largest gathering of lawyers anywhere in the world and so to that extent, we always write to sponsors to finance every level of our events.
“We have partners from America, Chile, and a host of other countries who pride in what we do and take it upon themselves to get the programme financed annually.
Speaking on whether lawyers staged a walkout on Portable at the event, the publicity secretary said, “No, they did not. The Friendship Centre is the customary place where all lawyers go to unwind, network and do all other social activities.
“So, the concert was meant to take place there but we later told the lawyers to move to the ‘Unbarred concert’ at the Velodrome of the National Stadium in Abuja because we don’t want two events at the same time given that that place (Friendship Centre) had been decorated already to promote their brands.
“They were the headline sponsor of the centre and that’s where the DJs and every other social activities had been going on since the start of the event. So we closed the place down to have a unified event,” he added.
He further appreciated the Cubana Group for sponsoring the event.