Taylor reveals issues facing African lawyers

Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor

Liberia’s Vice President Chief Dr. Jewel Howard-Taylor recently addressed this year’s Annual Conference of the African Bar Association (AFBA) in Lilongwe, Malawi emphasizing that the issue of transparency and accountable governance in Africa is more about the total disrespect and disregard of the social contract.

She said the social contract which propels governments, organizations, and institutions into existence is disregarded and flippantly tossed aside once the objective is achieved.

The vice president added: “Therefore so as they consider the Way Forward;  may each of us keep in mind that issues of transparency and accountable governance in Africa are more than just about round pegs in square holes; or wasted opportunities, or lack of political will, mismanagement, blatant disregard of governance systems and broad daylight corruption and impunity.  

But more so about the total disrespect and disregard of the social contract which propels governments, organizations, and institutions into existence; which is disregarded and flippantly toss aside once the objective is achieved.”

VP Howard-Taylor, who was presented a medal of merit in leadership by the AFBA, noted further that the failure to follow rules and regulations, personal aggrandizement, greed, power, lack of patriotism, and other vices lead to the lack of trust and respect by the majority and a total breakdown of systems of governance.

In a keynote address the Liberian Vice President also outlined three critical points that she considered negative perception that must be dealt with by AFBA.

She identified access to justice by all, freedom of expression by members of the bar and the disciplinary proceedings and punishment by rogue elements within.

Speaking on the theme “Instituting an enduring Legacy of transparent and accountable governance in Africa: Basic Issues and Road- map,” Vice President Howard- Taylor, who herself is a lawyer, told the conference that society can only function properly if the people accept, abide, uphold and protect agreed-upon rules and regulations for civilized societies with the firm belief that the final judgments therefrom should normally be predictable, just and acceptable as right.

She recommended that to avoid painting members of the legal fraternity black, the AFBA must, among other things, examine the impact of the negative trends on the majority whom the profession is sworn to help; provide an opportunity for internal cleansing, purging, correction and punishment of the wayward members of our fraternity; to regain the public trust and creates a new platform which restores public trust, raises the bar for the political will to then deal with both the internal and external environment.

She extolled the leadership of the AFBA, under the extraordinary stewardship of Barrister Hannibal Uwaifo, for convening the 2022 Annual Conference and affording her the unique opportunity to be a part of the august occasion as a female lawyer and keynote speaker.

She holds that this opportunity is a rare privilege which she doesn’t take lightly while raining praises on the AFBA for seeking to transform AFRICA’s Legal Landscape in preparation for the Green African Industrial Revolution.