Nigeria Lacks Heroes To Inspire Young People, Says Chimamanda

A file photo of Chimamanda Adichie.

 

Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie says the country does not have “heroes” who will inspire its younger population. 

Adiche made the comment on Monday in her keynote address at the Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Lagos State.

“We are starved of heroes. Our young people do not find people to look up to anymore,” the award-winning writer said during the event.

According to the author, Nigerians should be open to self-criticism. This, she said, will engender good leadership in the nation.

READ ALSO: Peter Obi, Atiku Abubakar Attend NBA Conference In Lagos

“As long as we refuse to untangle the knot of injustice, peace cannot thrive. If we don’t talk about it, we fail to hold leaders accountable and we turn what should be transparent systems into ugly opaque cults,” Chimamanda noted.

“My experience made me think there’s something dead in us, in our society; a death of self-awareness and ability for self-criticism.

“There’s a need for resurrection. We cannot avoid self-criticism but criticise the government. We cannot hide our own institutional failure while demanding transparency from the government.”


The award-winning writer was one of the several guests at the conference which has the theme ‘Bold Transitions’.

Some of the personalities who graced the event on Monday include the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) Peter Obi and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart Atiku Abubakar.

But the All Progressives Congress (APC) flagbearer Bola Tinubu did not attend. He was instead represented by his running mate Kashim Shettima at the conference which started on August 19 and will end on August 26.

The NBA had earlier said Tinubu and the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso did not confirm their availability for the conference.

Other presidential candidates at the event were that of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) Dumebi Kachikwu and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Prince Adewole Adebayo.

Judges Under Political Pressure To Please Vested Interests, Says Wike

A file photo of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.

 

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has said that judges are under political pressure to please some vested interests in the country.

Wike stated this on Monday at the 61st Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Conference in Port Harcourt, adding that no excellence can be achieved in the nation’s judicial system.

He asked Nigerian lawyers to engage in judicial activism, noting that it is a deliberate measure to address the slow dispensation of justice, and attempts to stifle the rights of the citizenry.

The governor also berated the Nigeria Bar Association for focusing less on promoting and fighting for the values of good governance, democracy, judicial independence, human rights and the rule of law when there is urgent need for them to do so.

According to Wike, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration and security apparatus have violated the rights of the citizens.

“The invasion on personal liberty has been brazen and indiscriminate, such that even judges of the superior courts, including Supreme Court justices, have in the recent past been victims of midnight assaults on their premises and subjection to unlawful arrests and imprisonments,” Wike said.

“Never in our political history has Nigeria been so badly governed and denied of good governance with the federal government woefully failing in its basic duties to provide for the wellbeing and security of its own citizens as we have experienced in the last six years.

“On a daily basis the economic, social and political rights, including the rights to personal security, freedom of speech, association, dissent and peaceful protests, as well as the right to personal liberty are being violated with impunity by the present central administration and its security apparatus.

“Lately, the new devious trend is to tag security risks to innocent Nigerians and opposition elements and use the Immigration Authority to seize their international passports without a prior court order.”

READ ALSO: NLC Asks Workers To Take COVID-19 Vaccine For ‘A Chance To Stay Alive’

Speaking further, Wike said it was time for everybody to work collectively towards building a strong legal system that is well-resourced, independent and effective in the administration of justice.

The governor added that his administration has built, rebuilt, furnished and equipped old and new courthouses, including the Rivers State High Court, the Federal High Court, the National Industrial Court and the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt.

He noted that the Rivers State Government is also spending N16 billion to build the Nabo Graham-Douglas Nigerian Law School campus in Port Harcourt.

In his remarks, the Chief Justice Of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad charged the NBA to lead the crusade to address the poor condition of service of national judicial officers.

He observed that administration of justice is being hampered by assault that litigants, especially politicians and some lawyers, launch on the judiciary when their ends are not met.

Justice Muhammad was represented at the event by Justice Mary Odili.

While urging the NBA to also take measures to discipline its erring members who do not only ridicule the judiciary but also abuse its processes, Justice Muhammad noted that as Nigeria faces the challenges of kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, agitations for secession and resource control.

He believes the peace of the country now rests on the balance of the scale of justice.

Also speaking, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan Kukuh, said it has been difficult to review the nation’s constitution in a manner that meets the current aspirations of Nigerians because of the poor quality of those saddled with such responsibility.

According to him, any tenable constitution should be one that provides a mirror for each Nigerians to recognise him or herself as a citizen and not as an instrument that distributes favours to vested interests, sections or tribes.

“Our politicians must become very careful and more circumspect. If we are going to take a lesson away from Boko Haram, from banditry, from where we find ourselves now, is that there is an urgent need for politicians to become more restraint in their involvement with religion. Because their religious identity remains a very troubling identity,” he said.

Bishop Kukah wondered about the usefulness of having 120,000 membership on NBA list that cannot be harnessed to provide the leadership that is required to save the country from the quagmire of having a workable constitution for Nigeria.

He said Nigerians suffer identity crisis because politics have been immersed in religion and making it difficult to have legal system that can address all issues and promote freedom and justice without any form of discrimination.

FG Will Effectively Deal With Southern Kaduna Crisis, Says Osinbajo

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, gives a speech virtually at the NBA Annual General Conference on August 27, 2020.

 

The Muhammadu Buhari administration will not sweep the major issues underlying the crisis in Southern Kaduna under the carpet, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said.

Professor Osinbajo gave the assurance on Thursday during a special conversation featuring him and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, at the ongoing Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Annual General Conference.

He listed the issues to include ensuring justice, fixing economic marginalisation and the prosecution of persons responsible for the murders.

The Vice President who stated that the government would ensure that the impunity does not worsen urged those who have concerns about the recently signed CAMA legislation to approach the National Assembly for possible amendments.

“I have been involved since 2001 through the work of the Macedonian initiative, an NGO that focused on providing relief materials to displaced persons in Southern Kaduna and several other places, especially in the north-central part of Nigeria,” he said on the way forward in the Southern Kaduna conflict and making reference to his personal experience.

Professor Osinbajo added, “There have been judicial commissions and all sorts, but the problem remains. So, there is the need to address the underlying issues. You can’t sweep under the carpet, justice and the cries of economic marginalisation.

“The fact is that we must prosecute persons responsible for these murders or otherwise impunity will worsen, and also support those who have lost their breadwinners.”

According to the Vice President, the mindless callous killings in Southern Kaduna are heart-breaking and unacceptable as they are avoidable.

He stressed the need to condole those who lost loved ones and those injured or who have suffered loss of property in the crisis.

 

Possible Peace-Making Efforts

Professor Osinbajo highlighted what the Federal Government has done and was doing to deal with the situation.

A file photo of a residential building set ablaze during an attack on a community in Southern Kaduna.

 

He said, “First is the improvement of security in Southern Kaduna. Now, we have a military base there, for the first time. We also have a lot of Air Force surveillance.

“We have about 500 conventional and Mobile Policemen in Zangon-Kataff and Kaura Local Government Areas and then, the combined military team of the army and the navy who are also on ground 24 hours. This is basically to just take care of the volatile situation there.”

The Vice President noted that President Buhari had several security council meetings where the issues were discussed, and the possibilities of engagement have also been discussed.

On a personal note, he revealed that he has engaged community leaders in Southern Kaduna and the state governor to look at what peace-making efforts were possible.

Professor Osinbajo was optimistic that the issues would be resolved, noting that some of the peace-making efforts have been fairly successful.

“But there is also a lot of work going on to ensure that some of these fundamental issues are being addressed and it’s an evolving situation, but it’s something we can’t afford to ignore and it’s gone on for far too long and it’s redressable and possible for us to resolve,” he stated.

On his part, Gbajabiamila spoke about the collaboration between the Executive and the Legislature under the present administration in addressing some of the critical issues facing the country.

He said the actions of the lawmakers would continue to be guided by the legislative agenda adopted by the House at its inauguration in 2019, in line with the vision of the President.

NBA Conference: Sanusi Condemns Disinvitation Of El-Rufai As Speaker

The former Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, visits Governor Nasir El-Rufai at the Government House in Kaduna State on August 23, 2020.

 

The deposed Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, has faulted the disinvitation of Governor Nasir El-Rufai as a speaker in one of the panel sessions at the 2020 conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

Speaking during a visit to the Kaduna State governor at his office in the Government House on Sunday, Sanusi criticised the NBA for taking such a decision by relying on mere hearsay or petition from a few lawyers.

He believes it is wrong to withdraw the invitation the association earlier extended to the governor without given him a fair hearing to defend himself.

The former emir, however, advised that the matter should be handled properly by the leadership of the NBA to prevent it from generating ethnic or religious concerns.

According to him, the association has lost an opportunity to interrogate the governor and collectively rub minds to identify areas that need to be addressed for the purpose of governance.

Sanusi also prayed for peace to return to the troubled Southern Kaduna and other parts of the country where there were security challenges.

He also commended his host for the way he has managed the affairs of Kaduna, especially the effort to resolve the security challenges in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the state.

On his part, Governor El-Rufai described the former emir as a worthy partner and friend to Kaduna State.

He noted that as the Vice Chairman of Kaduna State Investment Promotion Agency, the former traditional ruler would help in turning around the economy of the state.

Following his arrival in Kaduna, Sanusi was received by a crowd of supporters who joined in his motorcade to the Government House.

His visit to Governor El-Rufai, who is his long-time friend for over 40 years, comes more than five months after he was deposed by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State.

NBA Conference: We Didn’t Disinvite El-Rufai For Ethnic, Religious Reasons – Usoro

Court Adjourns Alleged N1.4bn Laundering Case Against Usoro, Others
A file photo of NBA President, Mr Paul Usoro, addressing a press conference in Abuja.

 

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has reacted to the controversy triggered by the decision to disinvite Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, as a speaker in one of the panel sessions at the forthcoming conference of its members.

NBA President, Paul Usoro, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), explained the rationale behind the decision of the National Executive Council of the association in a statement on Friday.

He stressed that the disinvitation of the governor from the event had no ethnic or religious coloration or connotation as being claimed.

Usoro revealed that some of those who spoke against the governor’s attendance share the same faith with him while others came from the northern part of the country.

According to him, NBA NEC is not passing any judgment on Governor El-Rufai by its decision and is not in a position to pass such judgments without having all the facts and hearing from all the sides.

The NBA chairman state that the NEC did not discuss the substance of the issues that have been raised against the governor by the different groups and persons who clamored for his being disinvited, although there was “very considerable clamour” in that regard.

He insisted that the claims that the NEC decision was based on religion and ethnicity were not correct, stressing that they were far from the truth.

A file photo of Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai.

 

Usoro, who stated that neither the NBA nor its NEC belonged to any religious or ethnic group, urged the members of the association to remain united.

This year’s NBA Annual General Conference, which is the 60th, has been scheduled to take place between August 26 to 29.

Read the full statement below:

NBAAGC 2020 – NBA’S NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE’S (“NEC”) DECISION TO DIS-INVITE HIS EXCELLENCY MALLAM NASIR EL-RUFAI AS A SPEAKER IN A PANEL SESSION

1              At its meeting that was held yesterday, 20 August 2020, NEC took the decision to dis-invite HE Mallam Nasir El-Rufai as a Speaker in one of the Panel Sessions that is planned for the NBA 2020 AGC holding from 26-29 August 2020. This morning, I have had telephone discussions with the Director-General of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Mr Asishana Okauru, on the issue and have tendered through him, to HE Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, my sincere apologies and regrets for any unintended embarrassment that he may have been caused by the NBA NEC’s decision.

2              I followed up our telephone discussions with the attached letter which explains the circumstances of the decision by NEC. The letter has been sent to Mr. Okauru, both in hard and soft copies. It is apropos that I reproduce in this Release, paragraphs 5, 6 and 7 of the letter for ease of reference by our members:

“5. In concluding, I must clarify two critical issues. First, NEC’s decision yesterday had no ethnic or religious coloration or connotation howsoever and whatsoever. In discussing the issue at NEC, nobody talked about religion or ethnicity. As I recall, there were no more than 3 (three) advocates for retaining the invitation of the NBA to HE Nasir El-Rufai(not including me) and two of these three gentlemen are from the South of Nigeria and one is a reverend gentleman. Conversely, some of those who spoke against his attendance share the same faith with Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and some others come from the Northern part of Nigeria.

“6. The second point that I must clarify is that, NBA NEC, by its decision was not passing any judgment on Mallam Nasir El-Rufai. NBA NEC is not in a position to pass such judgments without having all the facts and hearing from all the sides and it did not set out to pass any such judgment. NEC merely made a judgment that it was not in the best interest of the Association to be engulfed in the controversy that trailed the invitation of Mallam El-Rufai for the Conference and that it was best if the safety-valve of dis-inviting the Governor was applied. Indeed, NEC did not howsoever or at all discuss the substance of the issues that have been raised against the Governor by the different groups and persons who clamored for his being dis-invited – and there was very considerable clamor in that regard. I perhaps need to mention that, prior to the NEC meeting I had personally taken urgent and strident steps, working with the TCCP, to douse the clamor, but we had no success.

“7. I truly would appreciate your bringing this letter to the attention not just of HE Nasir El-Rufai but also to all the other members of the esteemed Nigerian Governors’ Forum and in particular, the Chairman of the Forum, HE (Dr) Kayode Fayemi. Please, assure Their Excellencies that the Nigerian Bar Association holds all our Governors, including HE Nasir El-Rufai, in the highest esteem and would do nothing intentionally to embarrass them collectively or individually. Once again, I offer my sincere and deepest apologies and regrets for the unintended embarrassment that may have been caused to HE Nasir El-Rufai by the afore-referenced decision of the NBA NEC and would appreciate your passing on my regrets and apologies to him personally.”

3              I draw attention to those paragraphs of my letter in particular in order to douse the ethnic and religious passions that seem to have been inflamed amongst our members by the NEC decision. I have received several messages from our members that have attributed ethnic and religious considerations to the decision. That is not correct and is very far from the truth. Neither the NBA nor NEC belong to any religious or ethnic group. We are lawyers and professionals dedicated to the ideals and the promotion and preservation of the Rule of Law and we belong to one indivisible family of the NBA.

4              Did NEC infringe the audi alteram partem principle – a cardinal principle of the Rule of the Law – by dis-inviting HE Mallam Nasir El-Rufai? No, it did not. As I point out in my letter, neither the NBA nor NEC set out to sit in judgment against Mallam El-Rufai and even from that prism, the principle of fair hearing does not apply. None of the persons or parties who are opposed to the invitation of Mallam El- Rufai to the AGC has been offered the NBA or AGC platform to advocate or propagate their viewpoints and positions and so, the principle of not hearing the other side does not arise.

5              Indeed, as at date, neither the NBA as a body nor NEC has interrogated the issues raised by persons who are opposed to HE El-Rufai’s invitation to the AGC and, therefore, the issues of fair hearing do not also arise. NBA is not even equipped to play that role of an arbiter or court in respect of the issues raised by persons opposed to HE El-Rufai’s invitation and has never pretended to be so equipped and/or mandated.

6              I am hoping that this Release would assist in clarifying issues for our members and placing the NEC decision in its correct perspective. I implore all our members to please not view this issue howsoever from an ethnic or religious perspective. Those were not the issues considered by NEC yesterday. We are one united Nigerian Bar Association with no religious or ethnic bias or predisposition and shall ever so remain.

Paul Usoro, SAN

NBA President

El-Rufai Reacts To NBA’s Decision To Drop Him As Speaker At 2020 Conference

File photo: Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai

 

 

Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State says he is not deterred by the decision of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to remove him as one of its speakers for the body’s 2020 Conference.

The NBA had, following a petition against the governor by some lawyers – due to security issues in Kaduna –  removed El-Rufai as a speaker in the event scheduled to hold virtually from August 24-26, 2020.

But in a statement on behalf of the governor, Special Adviser to the former Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Muyiwa Adekeye said his principal will continue to speak on matters of national importance.

 

“When lawyer friends requested Malam Nasir El-Rufai to accept the invitation of the NBA to participate in a panel discussion on national identity, he accepted as part of his commitment to having a national conversation and the evolution of a national consensus,” Muyiwa said.

“NBA platform or not, these worthy conversations must continue. He will continue to make his voice heard on the things our country needs to do for its progress.”

READ ALSO: NBA Withdraws Invitation To Gov El-Rufai

‘Not Agitated’

While the NBA has the right to determine who speaks at its event, El-Rufai says he did not seek the lawyers’ platform and do not see the development as enough reason to be agitated.

 

NBA president-elect, Olumide Akpata. Photo: [email protected] Akpata

 

El-Rufai believes with happenings in the lead up to the NBA’s decision, there is a need to clear the air just as he accused the lawyers’ body of following what he described as a “one-sided narrative.”

The NBA leadership, as far as the Kaduna leader is concerned, have by removing him as a speaker in the conference, embraced injustice, unfairness and an indifference to the rule of law.

“For an association, whose bread and butter is about justice to make a ruling based on the stridency of people who lampoon judicial processes against certain individuals without hearing the other side is odd,” the statement explained.

“It bears noting that in its response to pressure, the NBA leadership has signalled an unfortunate embrace of injustice, unfairness, absence of fair hearing and total disregard for the rule of law.”

Although he claims there are several defamatory statements in the petition that led to his withdrawal from the conference, the statement noted that it is a matter that will be treated differently.

‘Constituency For Peace’

While reeling out his principal’s efforts in peace-building and his development strides, El-Rufai’s aide said Kaduna is not the only state experiencing security challenges in the country and assured that in spite of the challenges, the Kaduna governor will not be deterred in his quest to address the situation.

“His investments in building a constituency for peace, anchored on the rule of law, respect for the citizenship rights of everyone and an embrace of the obligations of a common humanity will continue,” he added.

“Those who have chosen to pretend that it is only Kaduna State that is experiencing the security challenges in North-West, or that it is only one part of the state that is affected can enjoy the illusion.

“Malam El-Rufai remains focused on the tough and hard work of stopping the bleeding and the needless breaking of bones.”