Mr. Austin Okere, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Computer Warehouse Group (CWG Plc) has urged legal practitioners in the country to adopt technology innovation that will enable them perform their duties with ease, as well as aid the quick dispensation of justice.
Mr. Okere made this known in a keynote address at the official commissioning of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch’s Website, held at the Bar Centre at the High Court in Lagos.
Enumerating the advantages of the website, Mr. Okere stated, “The Association could use this website to create a database of lawyers practicing in Lagos and also as a platform for publicizing her activities and promoting the skills and knowledge of her members by publishing their articles on the website. It could serve as a reference point for users of legal services and also as a medium to achieve significant online presence by simply linking her social media handles such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram”.
He observed that lawyers in the country are still seen carrying large files to court premises for judicial process despite the possibility of having the files on portable devices. According to him, they can make their jobs easier by “employing the service of a competent IT service provider that can help create applications that can transform their huge files into digital format that can be taken everywhere and accessed with convenience.” “In addition, with technology you can file your proceedings online from the convenience of your office and make your services available to more people online”, he added.
Mr. Okere commended the branch for taking the bold step towards bridging the gap between legal practitioners and the society by creating a website for interaction, and pledged to partner the Association in the area of ICT Training to ensure that they take advantage of technology to optimise their work. He however, charged them to extend their scope of influence to other critical areas of the society outside their sphere of practice.
According to him, one of such critical concerns is the development of quality education in Nigeria. Mr. Okere highlighted the fallout of a weakened education system in the country: “as we speak, about 30,000 Nigerians are schooling in the UK alone. Similarly, the nation loses about 2 billion dollars annually to neighbouring Ghana as school fees of Nigerians schooling in that country. The nation is experiencing this massive financial and intellectual drain because our educational system has not leveraged technology to groom its best. The Nigerian Education Research Network (NgREN) which was very helpful has been down for the past 11 months due to nonpayment of bandwidth fees. Yet this laudable project was a big step in the right direction towards narrowing the gap with peer universities and empowering our youth in the emerging digital economy.”
He explained that “the NgREN which was conceptualized by the committee of vice chancellors and the Nigerian Universities Commission was built by a consortium of indigenous technology companies including CWG Plc to provide affordable broadband to Nigerian universities and their communities as well as serve as a collaborative network that will allow for knowledge sharing and research collaboration. The World Bank and the Federal Government had financed the project and it received international acclaim at the 2014 World Economic Forum summit in Tianjin, China. It was to be implemented in stages with the first phase of the project, which was completed and launched in 2013 connecting 27 universities and about 1 million staff members, faculty and students, with the potential to connect over 12 million at full rollout to the over 600 institutions of higher learning in the country.”
“Today, Nigerians are not reaping the benefits of the project because the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) has for some reason not paid for its bandwidth renewal. We all should be concerned that this great idea is being allowed to suffer on the account of something as trivial as bandwidth renewal fees. We implore all lawyers in the country to add their voice to the call for the resuscitation of this laudable project for the benefit of our children and the coming generation”, he concluded.
Speaking on behalf of the association, Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN), a former commissioner in Lagos and a member of NBA Ikeja branch, lauded CWG Plc for supporting the branch and the legal profession in Nigeria. Dr. Banire noted that the branch will offer its support to any effort that aims at the development of education in Nigeria using technology innovation. “We commend your effort towards educating us about the NgREN project. We will lend our voices towards its revival both in our personal capacities and as a body”, he concluded.