President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Monday urged lawyers to uphold and defend the integrity of the legal profession at all times.
He said they had the singular responsibility to save the profession from decline – to play their avowed role of promoting and upholding the rule of law relentlessly to deliver justice to the people.
He was addressing the 58th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja, Nigeria.
President Akufo-Addo noted that whereas the legal fraternity had played its role in promoting democracy, many lawyers, by their conduct, had sullied the image of the profession.
He described as unfortunate the professional vanity that made lawyers ready to justify some very undesirable developments, which attracted cynical comments from society.
“It is not uncommon in everyday life to hear disparaging comment on the legal profession, our fees charged for our services being the regular source of unhappiness, or the judicial process, which many feel does not deliver justice to them.”
He reminded the lawyers to be mindful of the criticism against their vocation and to promote their sphere of influence by responding “in a manner that asserts the integrity of the legal profession and its determination to uphold the rule of law”.
He underlined the importance of the legal profession for achieving national development outcomes, especially that of the countries on the Continent, saying, “None of these things can be done effectively without engaging the long, octopus arms of the legal profession in one way or the other”.
President Akufo-Addo noted that most often than not, the cost of public works was an issue that ought embarrass “our architects, engineers, quantity surveyors and, yes, lawyers”, who “surely have to answer why it cost more for the state to build everything in Ghana and Nigeria than it does in other parts of the world”.
“Why is the cost of building a simple classroom block so high when the government is doing it, and so remarkably different when it is being done by the private sector?”
He told the meeting that his administration was making efforts to deal with phenomenon in Ghana by enhancing the country’s procurement processes.
“Simply reviewing contracts brought before the Public Procurement Authority for approval, under either sole sourcing or restrictive tendering, we have, in the past 18 months, saved the country some GH¢1.6 billion, approximately $400 million.
The whole of 2016, the year before I took Office, the Authority made zero savings. We will continue with this development.”
The four-day conference of is being held under the theme: “Transition, Transformation and Sustainable Institutions”. Some 10,000 lawyers drawn from the over 160,000-member of the NBA are attending the meeting.
President Akufo-Addo said until Africa transformed its economies to better serve its needs and eradicate poverty, the continent could not join the international comity of nations on an equal basis.
“We have a great battle to fight and win, and that is the battle to provide our people with a good quality of life. We must transform our economies to serve better our own needs.”
“The time has come for us to trade in the world economy not on the basis of raw materials, but on the basis of things we make. The good Lord has blessed our lands, and we should exploit these resources to benefit our peoples,” he said, calling for increased intra-African trade.