SOME eminent citizens, including Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos and the legal luminary, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) yesterday reiterated the need for a sovereign national conference as a major step towards addressing socio-political challenges facing the country.
Speaking at the 50th anniversary lecture series organised by the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, yesterday, Akiolu traced Nigeria’s problem to greed and lack of honesty, warning that the situation may get worse if those in position of authority refuse to embrace complete honesty and practice the rule of law.
He said: “It is high time we stopped robbing Peter to pay Paul. It is very critical at this stage of national development for all stakeholders to sit down and talk. Nobody wants the country to be divided or broken down, but we should embrace dialogue by sitting down to tell ourselves the truth”.
The traditional ruler, who expressed regrets that the country has still not been blessed with good leadership that would bring about positive changes, insisted that Nigerians must wake up and hold their leaders accountable.
“As followers, it is also time to search our conscience and have a moment of sober reflection to pray for the unity of this country. For the Boko Haram, even if they have a reason for their action, the way they are going about it is wrong. Nigeria belongs to all of us, so, we must all work hard to sustain our unity and not allow any individual or group destroy that unity,” he noted.
Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), in his lecture titled: “Challenges to Governance in Emerging Democracies” pointed put that the main obstacles to good governance in Nigeria include total disregard for the rule of law, corruption, leadership, poverty, illiteracy, crime, terrorism and over-concentration of power at the centre.
Proffering solutions, he observed that issues of accountability, a rule-based system, participatory roles of citizens, institution building, electoral reform, convocation of a sovereign national conference and making government and governance less attractive and lucrative, were desirable.
His words: “Politics in Nigeria is the highest paying business in the world. It is the only business that can transform a jobless man of yesterday to a multi-millionaire tomorrow, without anyone asking questions about the source of the wealth.”
To Babalola, members of the National Assembly cannot solve all the problems facing the country despite the fact that he gave tacit support for the review of the 1999 Constitution, which he says is defective. Babalola expressed regret that the “fiercest opposition against sovereign national conference was from the members of the National Assembly”.
The founder of Afe Babalola University Ado Ekiti (ABUAD) spoke yesterday at a lecture entitled: “Legislative in Troubled Times: National Assembly and Challenges of Good Governance in Nigeria” to mark the 49th birthday anniversary and 5th yearly lecture of a member of House of Representatives, Opeyemi Bamidele. He said the ongoing constitution review should look at the devolution of powers, insecurity in the country, the gloomy state of the Nigerian economy, corruption and decay in infrastructure.
Babalola, who expressed concern that politics remains the only lucrative business in Nigeria, argued that convocation of national confab would solve major problems, which politicians would not want to dabble into.
Delivering the lecture, a university teacher, Prof. Kunle Ajayi, urged the electorate to always stop any candidate with dual citizenship from gunning for the National Assembly or any elective position in the country.
Ajayi, a professor of Political Science at the Ekiti State University (EKSU), Ado-Ekiti, posited that possession of dual citizenship has been breeding disloyalty and unpatriotic act at the federal legislature, a situation he described as dangerous to the development of the nation.
The don advised the National Assembly to always work with the executive arm in reworking the constitution to strengthen the anti-corruption agencies to be able to tackle corruption, which he branded as endemic in the nation’s body polity.
Ajayi advised NASS to fashion out constitution that would stipulate stiff penalty against backers and financiers of terror groups in Nigeria as a way of disentangling the nation from barrage of attacks being experienced in the hands of the Boko Haram sect members.
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