Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo state has faulted the call by the President of the Nigeria Bar Association, Mr. Okey Wali (SAN), for the proscription of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum saying the call negates the provision of the constitution on Freedom of Association.
While declaring open the 2013 Law Week of the NBA, Benin Branch yesterday, the Governor said: “recently I watched the President of the NBA, saying in Yenogoa, Beyelsa State, that the Governors’ Forum should be discarded. I think the factor of location influenced his conclusion. He betrayed his oath to defend Nigerians on the right to associate.
“One of the fundamental rights of every person, including Governors, Presidents, is the right of association. If Presidents have the right to African Union, to United Nation, to all the other formal and informal gathering, how can the President of a learned community suggest that the NGF be proscribed on account of difficulties whether sixteen is more than nineteen, although he is unable to provide the answer. If we unlearned people don’t know, the learned people should know. Then if learned people don’t know that nineteen is more than sixteen, then I suggest that all of you should be proscribed.”
Oshiomhole explained that when a nation is led by characters who won’t stand by the truth, then that nation is doomed.
“I want to submit that the environment and the overall circumstances known and unknown that led the NBA President to call for the freezing of the right of Governors to associate borders on corrupt practice”, he added.
He maintained “I thought that given the role of the Bar in our history, if privileged people like the Governors went for an election and they have voted and the loser is being declared as the winner and the winner is being declared as the loser and NBA says scrap it, then there is a problem.
“Anybody who keeps quite in the face of compelling facts is not doing the nation any good. In any case, I do not need the Governors Forum to do what I have to do. All I need is the Edo Forum”, he said.
Oshiomhole disclosed “in Edo State, all men and women are equal before the law and we must demonstrate it by action. The law must be operated as if there are no rich men, big men or poor men. Everybody, whether corporate or individual must be seen to be equal before the law and the State must be seen to have the capacity and the will to deal with anybody who operates in an environment”
Oshiomhole argued that we can only have an egalitarian society “when those who are privileged to be entrusted with the powers of the State use those powers judiciously.
“I think in Edo we have tried to do that and before my turn is up, I intend to do more, such that by 2016 when I would be out of here, it would be said that when I was here, no one was too big to be dealt with when he infringed the law”, he added.
The Governor reiterated his opposition to the revenue allocation formula saying “we must give Abuja less money”.
He said Nigerians should stop lamenting that fourteen years after, Nigeria’s democracy is not delivering to the people, saying the beauty of democracy is that the people have the power to hire and fire and since Nigerians know the party that has been at the helm since 1999, it is in their hands to decide if they still want the party in power.
In a keynote address delivered by Mr. Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN) on the theme “Democracy and Socio Economic Imbalance in Nigeria; Role of the Law”, he said Democracy has been rated as the best system of Government adding that it is a system that allows citizens to participate directly in governance.
According to him “the courts have a duty to ensure that there is no anarchy in the land. There is a major link between law and democracy. In the first place law establishes democracy and democracy guarantees the availability of law”.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria noted “the impact of the economy on Nigeria is negative. For democracy to thrive we need to have a socio-economic balance. The average Nigerian does not see himself as a Nigeria, but rather as an Hausa, Yoruba or Ibo man”.