Last night, social media users expressed strong criticism towards the NBA for inviting Portable to perform at their event, which was attended by esteemed individuals.
Following this backlash, the Nigerian Bar Association has offered an explanation for featuring singer Habeeb Okikiola, widely known as Portable, at their 2023 Annual General Conference held on Thursday.
The NBA clarified that Portable was not remunerated for his performance.
Many Nigerians had taken to social media the previous night to chastise the NBA for including Portable in their event, which typically comprises learned professionals.
Some argued that the association’s decision had a negative impact on its reputation and made it appear less sophisticated.
Others considered the event a farce and believed it brought embarrassment to the traditionally conservative legal profession.
In response, the National Publicity Secretary of the NBA, Akorede Lawal, offered insights during an exclusive interview with PUNCH on Friday.
He explained that Portable’s presence at the event was linked to entertainer Obi Cubana’s involvement as the headline sponsor of the program.
Lawal elaborated that the Cubana Group, led by Obi Cubana, brought Portable as he was one of their brand ambassadors for “Odogwu Bitters.” Additionally, being the headline sponsor of the event entailed the responsibility of arranging for a guest artist to perform at the ‘Unbar concert,’ which traditionally features lawyers regardless of their status, as a way to conclude the conference.
“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.
The conference tagged “Getting it right” marked the 63rd and it started on Friday, August 25 to Wednesday, August 30, 2023, with several activities earmarked for the occasion.