In a bid to quell the controversy surrounding the participation of singer Habeeb Okikiola, known as Portable, at the 2023 Annual General Conference, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has come forward to explain its decision. Contrary to rumors suggesting that Portable was financially compensated for his performance, the NBA clarified that his appearance was linked to a sponsorship deal.
Late on Thursday night, social media users criticized the NBA for featuring Portable in an event attended by legal professionals, suggesting that it tarnished the association’s reputation and professionalism.
The National Publicity Secretary of the NBA, Akorede Lawal, addressed the matter in an exclusive interview with PUNCH on Friday. He stated that Portable’s presence at the conference was tied to a partnership between the NBA and Obi Cubana’s Cubana Group, which served as the headline sponsor for the event. Portable was selected to perform as he is a brand ambassador for one of Cubana Group’s products, Odogwu bitters.
Lawal clarified, “We did not pay a dime to Portable for the concert. It is the largest gathering of lawyers anywhere in the world, and we always seek sponsors to finance our events.”
Regarding claims that lawyers walked out during Portable’s performance, Lawal denied such reports. He explained that the Friendship Centre, where the concert was initially planned, is a customary venue for lawyers to unwind and socialize during the conference. However, due to the clash of events, the NBA decided to move the lawyers to the ‘Unbarred concert’ at the Velodrome of the National Stadium in Abuja, where Portable performed.
The NBA expressed gratitude to the Cubana Group for sponsoring the event, emphasizing that partnerships with sponsors are crucial for financing the conference.
The conference, themed “Getting it right,” marked its 63rd edition and took place from Friday, August 25, to Wednesday, August 30, 2023, with various activities scheduled throughout the occasion.