From the CourtPilot Law

Covid-19: Lawyers must look beyond diversification to survive second wave – Adeseko

Olasehinde Adeseko is a 1989 law graduate of the University of Lagos before he was subsequently called to the Nigerian Bar in 1990. He then proceeded to the Southern part of the country and had a stint of legal training with the former Attorney-General of Akwa Ibom State and one time Pro-Chancellor of the University of Benin, Edo State, Effiong Bob. He later joined the chambers of former Kwara State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Olasupo Ashaolu now a Senior Advocates of Nigeria in 1992. Presently the Principal Partner of Olasehinde Adeseko & Co. which was established 1997 in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, he shares with ACTING EDITOR, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM one of his most unforgettable experiences ever had in the legal practice. Excerpts;
Against expectations of majority of Nigerians and other global citizens, the Covid-19 pandemic rather than subsiding after over a year appears to be on the rise with possibility of another lockdown and more devastating variant of the disease. How do you see this affecting the legal sector?
Well, what we initially experienced when the issue first started was very challenging to our existence as legal practitioners and across other sectors in the country. For instance, I have to shut down this office for twelve weeks doing nothing and we have to take to our fate. It was more or less like a total shut down of the economy and it was through the grace of God that some of us could survive it even at the family level. However we have to appreciate God for His grace. From the way things are now, we just have to live with the pandemic as individual, community, state or country and try to keep strictly to the rules guiding the Corona Virus which has devastated the global community claiming the lives of many top citizens in the country. With the controversy that has trailed the launch of the vaccines, there is need for emphasis on the protocols.
Do you think the legal sector and county can survive another lock down in this instance?
The legal sector is not isolated from the rest of the society and the only thing is that some people will suffer. But if other sectors can survive, then the legal circle will also survive it. Although we don’t pray for any other lockdown again but if it is declared, we will all survive it and that was the reason why I said we should just find a way to live with it and not locking the states and country again. Except there is a way the rule can be adequately complied with in school, then the resumption of the schools across the state should be put on hold until further notice when the situation and preparation would have improve. So as long as other sectors would be affected, the legal sector is not exempted including lawyers. Although some of us might be affected economically, but like I noted, we have to live with it.
Should lawyers consider other avenues for revenues streams for diversification in order to stay afloat?
If we are affected in the cause of our practice, that is also the same way the pandemic has affected and shattered other sectors that we think lawyers can also exploit or considered as sources of other streams of funds. The same problem that is affecting the legal profession is also affecting these other areas. Which sector can we say is not being affected now with the pandemic? For instance, we are already living with it because we have to look for our daily bread and same thing I will advice for others working in other sectors.
What is your take on the issue of the minimum wage with the government threatening to issue a no work not pay directive to the striking workers?
This is not the issue of lawfulness or unlawfulness. Now there is a labour law that guides the relationship between the workers and the government. The question that we will ask is who had broken the law between the government and the workers. It is after this has been determined that we can now begin to talk whether it is lawful for the government to continue to pay the striking workers or not. It is not as if the workers deliberately refused to go to work. It is just that they are fighting for the minimum agreement. Then there are some set of civil service rules dealing with the issue of workers not coming to work which include issuing of queries and eventually dismissal. We now take it to level where there is a sort of cooperate aggregate, the workers as a whole now. So was it the deliberate will of the workers not to go to work, this must also be determined. For instance if workers now protest the recent increment in fuel and electricity bills by embarking on strike, are we now saying their salaries should be stopped when they are fighting for the entire populace? The major issue is to determine who has violated the rule.

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