The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has provided an explanation for the performance of singer Habeeb Okikiola, widely known as Portable, at their 2023 Annual General Conference. The NBA clarified that Portable wasn’t paid to perform by the association.
There was a significant backlash from netizens who criticized the NBA for featuring Portable at an event attended by “learned” individuals. Some argued that this decision harmed the association’s reputation and reduced its standing to a more informal level.
In response, the National Publicity Secretary of the NBA, Akorede Lawal, revealed in an interview on Friday that Portable’s presence at the event was connected to entertainer Obi Cubana’s partnership with the conference as the headline sponsor.
Lawal further explained that the Cubana Group, headed by Obi Cubana, brought Portable because he served as a brand ambassador for one of their products, Odogwu bitters. Additionally, as the headline sponsor, Obi Cubana was responsible for bringing a guest artiste to perform at the ‘Unbarred concert,’ a tradition that usually features lawyers regardless of their professional 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.
The publicity secretary said Lawyers didn’t stage a walkout on Portable at the event, “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.