President Goodluck Jonathan has commended the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) in its effort to fight for the rule of law and ensuring a lasting democracy in the country.
Speaking while declaring open the 53rd Annual Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association with the theme, “Law, Leadership and Challenges of Nationhood in the 21st Century Nigeria” in Calabar, Jonathan said the theme was significant to the reality of law as well as Nigeria’s quest for transformation as the nation prepares to celebrate its centenary next year.
Jonathan, who was represented by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) congratulated Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State for hosting the conference as well as executing tremendous development projects across the state while emphasizing that law is a social tool of engineering as seen in the development agenda of the Federal Government.
The President explained that challenges facing the country include insecurity and threat to lives and property which culminated in the declaration of state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, stating that for Nigeria to be fully democratic, there should be freedom of expression, association and thought.
He disclosed that government is determined to improve the living condition of the people by instilling law and order, creating a favorable economic environment and create jobs to fight unemployment, adding that it could be achieved with the support of the public, private sector as well as associations like NBA to enable Nigerians take advantage of the global liberalization and complete favorably.
Jonathan called for an inspirational, sincere, accountable and transparent leadership because government is committed to its transformation agenda as well as addressing the challenges plaguing the nation.
The President commended NBA on its fight for Rule of Law as well as proffering solutions to them.
Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State noted that the hefty implication of situation in the country compelled NBA to reflect on its mood as the theme was apt to conceptualize its leadership content.
Imoke hoped delegates would arise at the end of the conference identifying ethos that will make the nation move as they crossed fertilized ideas and opinions and provide a road map which will ensure a better Nigeria in 21st Century especially in the quality of leadership, and the process which it emerges and its benefits to the nation.
Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, who was represented by his Deputy, Mrs. Valerie Ebbe, noted that lawyers defend and shape the Nigerian goal and that their roles and contributions are well cut as the nation prepares for its 100 years anniversaries.
According to Akpabio, the unification of the people and nation building approach, sound harmony and economic growth are paramount and must be pursued.
The Senate President, Senator David Mark, represented by the leader of the Senate, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, said law and lawyers are central to the development of the country and that law should provide a frame work for social justice and change irrespective of tribe or religion.
Mark disclosed that the National Assembly has passed a lot of legislations to fight corruption and is determined to ensure a just, secured and equitable nation through rule of law and leadership because true leadership can turn challenges into opportunities.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, commended NBA for its contribution to constitutional amendment as well as nation building while saying that there are issues that abound which threaten the existence of the nation in terms of oneness and unity.
Tambuwal assured that the national assembly will not fail to introduce any law reform that will reposition the nation while pledging to partner NBA to achieve its goals of national building through meaningful legislation.
The Chairman and one-time Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice SMA Belgore, described NBA as one united family and noted that over the years, Nigeria has lost a lot through corruption and violence which the conference should address.
Belgore, said current incidents in the country provide them the opportunity to interface, appraise and proffer
The Chairman of NBA, Calabar Branch, Mrs. Nkoyo, O. Amah, noted that to survive as a nation, members of the association must rise up, take the bull by the horn and speak out against the cankerworms of corruption, terrorism, insecurity, brutal killings and destruction of lives and property by terrorists and other challenges staring the nation on the face.
Amah disclosed that as they deliberated and rubbed minds, delegates should remember the destiny of the nation lies squarely upon the rule of law and the entire nation is earnestly looking up to them to demonstrate and show good leadership at the initial period of the nation’s history.
Prof Jonah Isawa Elaigwu, Prof Emeritues of Political Science, in a key note address, noted that quality leadership must provide platform, develop new vision for the yearning of the people, ensure a fair and collective sense of reasoning and conduct as well as build strong institutions.
He listed the challenges of NBA to include engagement in manipulation of judicial process, lawyers, corrupting judges, subversion of electoral process by lawyers and said the judiciary could be productive if pressure mounted on it is reduced.
The professor enjoined NBA to revisit the nation’s old national anthem and reflect on its relevance on Nigeria while calling on the federal government to pay emphasis to education, health, provision of infrastructure and eradication of violence.
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